The Fear of Recurrence: A Quiet Storm

This is the sixth installment of the Fear of Recurrence series, written by Glynis Rhodes. Due to the overwhelming response this series has received, LBBC will be hosting a free teleconference, “What If? Managing the Fear of Breast Cancer Recurrence,” on Wednesday, May 19. Our speaker Dr. Sage Bolte, will be able to address some of your questions during the call. Please let us know what’s on your mind and help us craft this program to fulfill your needs. Submit your questions to Jenna@lbbc.org. To register and for more information, visit lbbc.org.

A quiet storm, that’s what the fear of recurrence is. It comes so unexpectedly and is as powerful as it is surprising. Here I am trying to deal with the diagnosis, trying to wrap myself around it and just when it seems I have it under control, someone says “so and so is no longer in remission”, so begins the storm. With all of the life changes that come with Breast Cancer, the fear of recurrence tops the list. It comes into your life unwelcomed and at times takes a seat and gets comfortable. What nerve!

There were days, or should I say weeks that before my eyes opened I could feel the drugs that were in my body to fight the cancer, to make sure it never came back, yet I wondered, what’s going to happen when the drugs are gone? Are they working? There were some painful days, days when I could not walk, could not breathe. The most fear came with the pains in my chest, although I was told it was my nerves trying to reconnect, it sent questions to my head allowing fear to make its presence known.

With all the questions, the stabbing pains and the fears, I moved on because I didn’t know what else to do. I prayed about it a lot. I asked my God, Jehovah to forgive me for praying the same prayer “Father hold me because I can’t stand, Father protect me from my breast, Father let me live another day.” As days turned into months I went downhill with my fear but I could hear a little voice inside say “It won’t always be this way, keep going.” I never knew where that voice came from. Although it was soft and small it was just as powerful as the storm, my first fear of recurrence.

Eventually the voice got louder and stronger, more powerful than the fear. While I had life, I decided to live it, taking every bit of joy I could find. Even if it was only found in being able to get up in the morning, make my bed, only to lie in my favorite chair. I did whatever I could do, I wrote poems, sent cards to friends, whatever I could do to hold the fear back. The fact that I could wake up, get up and move was good enough for me. That little voice inside gave me courage and helped me take the fear of recurrence and place it elsewhere. Sad to say it isn’t something I can throw away. This is my reality.

As I am learning to live with a new me, the fear of recurrence is a part of the package. I have placed it in a good space because it keeps me on track. It reminds me; to be kind to myself, to eat smart, to walk, to exercise, to smile, to laugh more and enjoy my life. I had a choice, to let the fear of recurrence defeat me or help me. I chose the help! Now keep in mind that I shake in my boots every now and then but not for very long. This is my life, and I have too many joys, too many things that matter, too many things to look forward to, the recurrence of Cancer isn’t one of them.

 

Glynis Rhodes

Do you share Glynis’ emotions? Is the fear of recurrence your quiet storm? We want to hear your thoughts either here on this blog or on our Facebook Page.

14 thoughts on “The Fear of Recurrence: A Quiet Storm

  1. All of us, who have been on this journey, have this fear. I was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, and at the time I didn’t think I could live without being paralyzed by fear. But I took one step and then another. And somehow, now days go by and I don’t think about cancer. Recently, though, I had my six-month checkup. The fear is always there on those days, in all its intensity.

    http://graciouslivingdaybyday.com/2010/04/06/six-month-checkup/

    • It’s always good to know you are not alone. I am now three years in remission and like you there are days I live without being paralyzed by fear and I enjoy them to the fullest. Flat tires on the side of the road aren’t that serious any more🙂

      take care
      Glynis

  2. Sweet Glynis, I read your story and cried. It touch my heart so deeply. I have shared your prayer to Jehovah and felt his arms around me through my own journey. How wonderful it is to know that yes, It wont always be this way. But for now we must learn to live. I am almost at the 1 year mark. I am reclaiming my life and learning to live with the new me too. Thank for sharing your story Big Hugs!

    • Aeisele, are you and I spiritual sisters? Please reply. It is wonderful to know it will not always be this way. Those thoughts are what helps me keep going.

      Hope to hear from you soon.
      Glynis

  3. It has been 12 years since my breast cancer diagnosis, and yet I, too, can never be complacent. Statistically, I shouldn’t even be alive with 14 positive nodes, but I fought valiantly to be here for my family (chemo, radiation and stem cell transplant). A cancer diagnosis is a life game changer. It can defeat you or change your entire perspective on life. Whenever I’m feeling vulnerable, my husband reminds me that life is fragile, not only for cancer survivors, but for everyone.

    • Dear Faustina:

      How true are you husbands comments. As we are all fragile, ours just looks back at us each time we undress….. It’s a constant reminder of how precious we all are. 12 years, wow, I look forward to the time when I can say that. My 12 will be 21 for you!

      Stay strong and loved,
      Glynis

  4. Now 4 and a half years from treatment ,I find a life that is richer despite the lingering thoughts that recurrence can occur. I teach mindfulness and poetry healing classes to our over 55 community. I have made some wonderful friends and have had experiences outside of my own box. My writing is often filled with hope and I try to stay in the moment. Aside of helping others, I’m learning to accept help FROM others which is relatively new in my life. Healing the healer is much harder but is life sustaing for me. My spiritual nature is my friend.
    Thank you Glynis for reaching me today.

    • Dear Elaine:

      The road traveled isn’t always hard and I am sure you know that. Writing opens many many doors and brings wonderful people into our live. Let those who love you help you. They are doing it for not only you but themselves. This way, we all benefit. It may be hard but enjoy it.

      Healer, be healed!

  5. All of you have given me words of hope, and I thank you for that. My first year anniversary will be on May 26th of this year. I have fought my battle so far and I intend on coontinuing…to think cancer-free.

    • Hey Francine:

      Almost 13 months and counting. Happy anniversary. One year in remission is like a thousand…

      Live it well and forever!
      Glynis

  6. Each day that goes by, the thoughts and fears of recurrence become more distant. It has been 18 months since my diagnosis, and I have recently enjoyed buying some new cloths on a couple occasions to remind me that I am going to be around for some time to come! The first year I didn’t allow myself to buy anything new. I would wonder too much who it could go to if I died…now I get things for myself with myself in mind, not who it will fit or go to after I am gone…because I am not going anywhere! My husband (Douglass) and dog (Opal) won’t let me! :o)

    • Go Deborah. Sounds like you’ve got a great support team with Douglas and Opal. I used to think of death but I don’t anymore… too much life to be lived!

      Glynis

  7. Glynis, I am so happy I have found this site. I was diagnois in March of 2009 and since finishing treatment in October 2009, the fear has gripped me. I’ve come from not being able to sleep through the night, waking up with night sweats, to just a “what if” on a daily basis. Though the fear is not as strong, my anxiety has lessened a bit, I have not been able to completely shake loose from fear and anxiety. Reading your comments gave me a new way to get through this. Reading these comments, I realize that I am not alone and I am not weird. Thank you very much.

  8. Glynis, I am so happy I have found this site. I was diagnois in March of 2009 and since finishing treatment in October 2009, the fear has gripped me. I’ve come from not being able to sleep through the night, waking up with night sweats, to just a “what if” on a daily basis. Though the fear is not as strong, my anxiety has lessened a bit, I have not been able to completely shake loose from fear and anxiety. Reading your comments gave me a new way to get through this. Reading these comments, I realize that I am not alone and I am not weird. Thank you very much.

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