Submitted for your perusal: a partial list of emotional traumas…
… that are piled on top of the many physical traumas already inflicted by Lynch Syndrome, colon cancer, Muire-Torre Syndrome, various skin cancers, leukemia, and prostate cancer or by the treatments, side effects, and side effect mitigation efforts for all the above.
Note: Some fall into the “one and done” category. Alas, most do not.
The ever-present threat of recurrence.
The dark cloud of cancer progression, not because it might happen, but because it already has happened… many times over.
The ever-present threat of new cancers developing.
The ever-present threat of life-threatening side effects.
Not knowing for months if a treatment is going to be effective.
The anxiety of waiting for test results.
Not knowing what is causing a particular pain.
Not knowing enough about the diagnosis and staging to make an informed decision.
Rumination about the best and worst that can happen.
The dread of knowing that something is going to hurt physically.
The dread of knowing that certain side effects are virtually guaranteed to occur.
The dread of all that precious time things will take to heal.
Fear of looking into the toilet every time you pee because you might see blood in your urine.
Fear of looking in the mirror because you might notice a skin lesion you didn’t notice before.
The jolt to your system when you notice an alarming symptom you did not notice just one heartbeat before.
The stress of doing triage on yourself when a new and alarming symptom pops up.
Cancer nightmares that interrupt even the temporary escape of sleep.
The never-ending stress of having multiple time bombs ticking away inside you and not knowing how much time is left on the clock.
The whiplash between hope and despair as you revise your life expectancy up and down and down and up and up and down and down and up and down.
The stress of deciding who, what, when, how, and if to tell family and friends about what’s going on with you—and preparing them for the worst.
Grief for all that precious time and energy lost forever… time you’d rather spend on living, not being a cancer patient.
Doing all this while immunocompromised in the midst of a pandemic and having to deal with anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers.
Regret for anything you should have done differently… not just with respect to your cancer journey, but in your life in general.
The loneliness of it all–because you don’t want to be a burden on anyone.