Friday, June 27, 2014
I posted the same posts on a few Leukemia/BMT pages on Facebook regarding mood changes (I.e going from being happy to easily becoming angry or highly agitated or irritable) and even touching upon isues regarding social anxiety. I can't believe the overwhelming responses I received about these issues and how common they are.
I'm very aware that these issues are not just related to cancer. But I refer to these issues as a result of the cancer experience and how much emotionally some of us are affected once the treatments are over and while we're in remission. Some survivors/warriors identified it as 'post-traumatic stress disorder' (PTSD), others refer to it as 'normal' and part of the journey post-cancer.
Whatever the reason or label, it's a part of our reality and we are not so abnormal in our thoughts and anxieties, especially in our social relationships and how we respond to others in those relationships.
We are not alone, many of us share a common experience (Cancer) with common emotions, thoughts and reactions. And all of us are just trying to cope and heal, so we can move forward in our journey to our 'new normal'.
Image source: http://www.osteoarthritisblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/mood.jpg
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The above quote couldn't be more accurate. My daily life consists of all three happening simultaneously, although, it's more fear and anxiety than peace. Cancer is so much more than a disease. Cancer not only affects your body physically with its attempt at ending it's life, but the psychological damage it leaves in its wake is just as damaging, if not, at times, worse.
Tomorrow will mark the five year anniversary of my initial diagnosis (June 25, 2009). As I sit here today, I'm still in just as much fear as I was that day. When will it get better, when will this fear go away???
I try to give myself positive pep talks each day when I wake up. Even when I'm nauseous and tired or my eyes feel as though sand has been thrown in them, or I'm up against a limitation after the transplant that I try to search for the good, so I can maintain a balance. But sometimes the 'fear', outweighs it all and the scales I'm trying to balance collapses.
No one knows this, until now, not even my husband, but almost daily I'm subjected to tears, whether it's a limitation from my stem-cell transplant, or an event that triggers a memory of what once was or could eventually be. Many times my crying episodes are in solitude (in the car, the shower, or even in bed in the middle of the night). Usually it's my mind going a mile a minute and I mourn so many thoughts and feelings or losses due to cancer.
Some assume that when the cancer is gone, it's back to living normally. I truly believe this is so far from the truth. I came to the realization in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep that 'fear' has taken ahold of my life. I'm afraid to 'live'. I'm afraid that once I allow myself that happiness and joy of living that it will be ripped from me again. I'm beginning to see the consequences of my relapse and the psychological damage it has left.
I've been to counseling, I've been to support groups, I've spoken to other survivors, warriors, etc. but I still haven't learned a way to cope with all that has changed or has been lost. I wish there was a magic wand to take all the pain and fear away. What may work for someone else may not work for another. I want my 'peace' in the living world. All I can do is hold onto my 'hope' that through this journey I will find the 'peace' I'm looking for and finally be able to 'live'.
Image source: http://definingwonderland.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/past-quote.jpg
Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Well, I've noticed many times this new year that my issues with 'chemo brain' have gotten worse. But I've also noticed that the severity of it varies daily.
For example, I had been removing laundry from the washer and placing it in a basket so that I could place it in the dryer. Please note that my washer & dryer are not side by side due to our house being very old (built in the 1890's) and the outlets are not near each other. So due to the location of the washer and dryer, I needed to place the wet laundry in the basket so that I could easily transfer it to the dryer, which leads me to my chemo brain moment. After I placed the laundry in the basket, I added a dirty load to the washer and added the soap and fabric softner, chose the cycle of wash and water temp and started the new load of dirty wash. Then I went upstairs to start a new chore in the house. After sometime, I heard a few beeps notifying me that my laundry was done. So upon arrival, I went to the dryer and noticed there was no laundry in there. I had completely forgotten to add the wet laundry to the dryer. I stood there wondering how could I forget something like that and how could I forget that I forgot about it. I had gone to the dryer to fold and hang the clothes and I just stood there absolutely in a fog. This has been happening a lot lately.
I am finding myself just standing or sitting somewhere mentally searching for some form of recollection of a specific incidence or attempting to recall a piece of conversation or even the amount of an item that I wrote a check out for and I can't remember!!!
Someone could tell me something and even after 5 minutes, I can't fully recall the details of the conversation, it's like I lost a moment or two in time that I can't remember.
Is this normal??? Are thsee bouts of chemo brain worse some days than others???
Thankfully, I visit my oncologist tomorrow and I will be able to discuss these concerns with him. I just wanted to put it out there for others to read (and before I probably forgot) hoping to have some feedback from anyone else with similar issues after chemotherapy.
The list could go on and as to the things that I forget and I'll save that for my doctor. But if this is common, then I'll just have to figure out how to adjust to this 'new normal' of intermittent lapses in memory and hoping that this brain fog, forgetfulness, lapses in memory will be 'forgotten' and a thing of the past.
Image source: http://maryhardy.com/?p=1891
Sunday, June 1, 2014