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.
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.