This entry was written by Linda Oken. Linda, a dedicated LBBC volunteer, also blogs regularly about her quality-of-life experiences:
Remembering … or NOT
As that time of my life moves further in the past, I find that I have forgotten so many details of what the experience of treatment was like. Starting from the day of the biopsy, the next 7 months of my life included diagnosis of my triple negative breast cancer, then lumpectomy surgery, followed by more than 6 weeks of daily radiation and 6 months of twice a month chemotherapy. All of that was more than 11 years ago!!
Those 7 months came with a lot of anxiety, fatigue, side effects, discomfort and worry. As I focused on each decision (lumpectomy or mastectomy? chemo or no chemo? where to go for treatment?) I read and learned all I could in order to make an informed decision at every step. My mind was filled with information overload. I called it “All this stuff I never wanted to know about.” Often I would wake up in the middle of the night and review the overwhelming amount of info in order to make the next decision, and hope that it would be the right one for me at the time, and for my future.
But today, if you were to ask me about what absorbed me so completely in those days, I am no longer able to remember many of the details. What was the name of that medication I had to take exactly every 6 hours for 3 days after each round of chemo? Who knows anymore? And at this point, why should I care? Because now, if I were to have a recurrence or a new cancer, a lot of what I experienced 11 years ago would be irrelevant today. So much has changed.
How about you? Are you in treatment now? Does it seem to be taking over your life and your thoughts as it seemed to me at times back then? Are you as obsessed with the details as I was back then? When you are finished with your treatment, and I hope you will be soon, these details will fade from memory.
If your treatment is behind you, it is time you work on the process of letting go of that part of your life. Take some time to think about what you now want to do with your time and your energy. Yes, you still have to make follow-up appointments – and show up for them! Yes, you still have to take care of your health.
But you do not have to lie awake at night thinking about all those active treatment concerns any more. At least, that is what I realized after a while.
Since those days I have enjoyed many other life experiences totally different than treatment for breast cancer: for example the marriage of my daughter, the births of my grandchildren. Indeed, these are the memories I cherish and would rather bring to mind. Join me in trying not to remember those days. After all, we want to live, beyond breast cancer.
Of course there have been other unpleasant events in my life as well, but I do try to focus on the good stuff. True, it’s not easy sometimes. And the petty nuisances of daily life too often absorb my attention and drive me nuts, as they do all of us. Then I remind myself that, as annoying as they are, problems like car trouble are definitely preferable to dealing with cancer!
Let us know how and when you decided to move forward after breast cancer treatment. What advice would you offer to women who seem to have a hard time letting go of the ups and downs of treatment? Comment here or on our Facebook page.