It’s hard to believe that I am at this point where I can say I finally feel content after a cancer diagnosis. It feels like a huge weight is lifted off of my shoulders. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but one day when I was reflecting about life just random stuff, BAM it hit me. I feel good. It’s been almost two years since I finished chemo (it will be two years on July 6th), but ever since then the adjustment to life has been difficult.
Survivor vs. Thriver
I talked earlier this year about life as a cancer survivor; by the way I prefer the terminology ‘thriver’. For some reason, when people hear cancer survivor, they assumed all clear, cancer-free, your life is back to normal. If you look up what it means to be a cancer survivor, it actually means someone who is diagnosed with cancer because every single day of their life they are surviving. I think outside the cancer world, the phrase ‘cancer survivor’ doesn’t have the same magnitude. Plus, I don’t think it fully describes what life with a cancer diagnosis really means. You are doing more than surviving, you are thriving. Every day can be a challenge, even if it is a good or bad one. The battle truly is never over, no matter how far out you are from diagnosis, active treatment or not.
Honestly, there are days when I’m not sure if I could ever feel good about myself or life. It’s hard to describe, but it’s that feeling when you don’t feel like yourself. I thought I knew myself physically and mentally, and now all of that has changed. Just so many changes at once! My life literally flipped a switch in the snap of a finger. Or, that I just feel out of place in the non-cancer world. I could no longer relate to other people, and hearing about other people’s problems irritated me. I keep thinking to myself, “Seriously this is what you are complaining about? How is this a big deal?”, etc.
So you’re probably like, okay Rach we get it, so how are you now feeling content after a cancer diagnosis? Well, I think a lot has to do with acceptance. I have accepted the fact that cancer will forever be part of my life. I have accepted that I can no longer be that ‘before cancer Rach’. I have accepted that cancer has changed my body. I have accepted that not everyone will understand what I am going through. I have accepted the unknown. See the pattern? The key thing was acceptance.
Acceptance doesn’t come easy. For me, it took a lot of self-reflecting, making changes with my life (e.g. career, lifestyle), and seeking help. Thank goodness onco-psycologists exist. I highly recommend seeing one. I would have never known there was a specialized psychiatrist if it wasn’t for my oncologist. I would vent to my oncologist since she genuinely cared about life and wellbeing and she believes how you live your life can affect your life outcome, and directed me to an onco-psychologist.
Feeling Content After A Cancer Diagnosis
Talking about how I perceive life and what irritated me has finally led me to acceptance. The thing about life is that there are aspects of it that we can’t control, but there is also a lot of it we can choose how to handle. I chose happy. I chose me. I chose a good life. The fact that we have options feels so liberating and I no longer feel constrained. And I think that is why Tre and I feel like we can start living our newlywed life. We chose how we want to live our life. Even though I am feeling content after a cancer diagnosis, I know I will still have my bad days. My side effects will irritate me because it is preventing me from what I want to do that day, I will dread going to treatments, stupid chemo brain mid-sentence, and I am still afraid of my cancer spreading.
Moral of it all is that if you are struggling after cancer, you will get there. You will start seeing the beauty in things and you will learn to love the things you love and you will love the new you. It takes time, but remember good things don’t just happen instantly. I think that is why we appreciate them so much. So much work goes into it.
Sending love to all my thrivers out there. You are all beautiful and amazing. Let’s live a wonderful life!
On A Fun Note
On a fun note, and let’s be real, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t talk about fashion. Fashion is what makes me happy! This dress I am wearing is from my all time favorite brand from Spain, Oysho. I have mentioned it in my travel guide to Madrid. Unfortunately, they do not ship to the U.S. (they really need to change that!). But if you ever plan to go to Spain, visit it. I am obsessed with everything they have. Everything is chic yet affordable! So for all the ladies that are into fashion, I was able to find similar dresses, which I shared below!