19th November 2018

My Cancer Is Not Your Cancer

Cancer is one word. Yet the experience so varied.

If you are affected by cancer (including relatives and friends) you will soon find, that other people affected by cancer are in a similar yet also very different boat – my cancer is not your cancer. The cancer experience and journey is as individual as the person affected by cancer.

The illness can vary so much.  Different parts of the body, difficult to diagnose or not, misdiagnosed or not, genetic or not, visible or not, treatable or not, operable or not, body parts can be cut off or not, more treatment, less treatment, you lose your hair or not, you become infertile or not, rare or common, low or promising survival rate, different grades, different stages, empathic medical staff or not, you are treated with respect or not, you are told what to expect or not, old friends disappear and new are found, relationships crumble or get stronger, people cross the road or hug you, you are discriminated against at work, have to stop working or decide on a change (if you have the chance), you may lose your social status, your savings, claim social benefits for the first time in your life, you may no longer be able to live in your home, you start doubting yourself, others, your faith, your beliefs. I could go on.

It is not a competition, but there are differences, and they don’t always matter, but sometimes they do.

But then there is the shared experience of loneliness in dealing with the uncertainty, and the loss and bereavement that starts before death.  After a diagnosis, life is no longer what it was. Even if the cancer is in ‘remission’, the real uncertainty and possibility of … remains. How to live with that is rarely talked about. More about that in another post.

Life with, after, beyond cancer – whatever you want to call it – is about living with extremes of hope and doubt, life and death. The place between those extremes is essential to stay grounded and play an active role in whatever we are dealing with.  That’s our choice and entitlement.

You might also be interested in other posts about cancer.

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