The following are excerpts from breast cancer survivor Natalie Miller’s thoughts on Dr. Peter Harvey’s speech on life after cancer. I found her words compelling and they really hit home with an intensity that I’ve decided to blame on the impending full moon. What a moment when you discover someone else has found the elusive words for what’s in your head/heart.
“But I’m not sure that he gets the point completely. Like many in the medical profession I don’t think he has covered all that cancer survivors have to go through. If he has, he’s not very good at communicating it.
You Mind: Worry
What I have had to deal with is worry. Worry about the cancer coming back. Worry about a recurrence, worry about the effects the cancer has had on my family, worry about the effect it has had on my future plans. Worry about the genetic issues for future generations.
Your Mind: Anger
I was very angry going through treatment. I had had to fight to be taken seriously. It took 5 months between a GP telling me that what I had, looked suspiciously like cancer, and my local hospital doing a lumpectomy and finding an aggressive tumor. I fought so much during this period to be seen and to be taken seriously, that by the time I was given my diagnosis I was in the “Well I could have told you so, mode”. I was just relieved that a long last we had got to the “I’m afraid I have to tell you that you have got cancer” stage.
Your Mind: Mood
I have also had to deal with my mood. Often. Over and over again. After the razzamatazz of the treatment was over, I originally thought like everyone around me that now treatment was over I was well and all I had to do was to get fit again and get on with my life. But it’s not like that is it? I had absolutely no understanding of this when I stopped writing my blog on the last day of my radiotherapy – well I won’t need the support of all these people around me now that all the treatments over. All I have to do is get better.
The enormity of battling through treatment and the aftermath can be overwhelming, leading to depression. I don’t think I’ve been other than mildly depressed, but I heard something on the radio the other day, which was really eye-opening. “People with depression have just been trying too hard”, this person said. “Wow”, I thought, “Maybe, just maybe, I need to just start being kinder to myself”. Maybe, just maybe I haven’t been truly recognizing the enormity of what I have been through.
In a lot of what I have been through my grey matter has been in too much control. It has refused to listen to what the more inner white matter- the less sophisticated more animal-like part of the brain has been trying to say. It has been wounded. Deeply. It needed to have recognized what it has been through. It needed acknowledgement that part of it has been cut away. Not on an intellectual level – yes I have had a mastectomy, because that is the best way for my body to fight cancer – but on a much more fundamental level. My body is wounded, part of my identity has been taken away. Love me, care for me, because I feel hurt. But not just feeling hurt. I am hurt.”
Read the full story here at: www.cancer-survivors.org