Fear is a funny thing. I found that there are two types. “Good fear” in the sense that you have fear about taking a new leap (for example), and you’re so nervous about it, but they’re good nerves. They’re butterflies in your stomach and you’re excited! Or, fear can be the total opposite. “Bad fear” where it controls your life and stops you from doing things that you love (for example). Because you are scared of what might happen. Or you may think you aren’t good enough. Rooting you to the spot where you currently are, and not continuing to move forward.
I realised I’m not one to discuss a lot of my fears very openly. I may drop little fears here and there when I’m talking but most of the time I struggle to bring them up to my friends and even to my family. Simply because I either don’t know how to say it or bring it up in conversation. And because I know it can be quite confronting for others on the outside to hear these fears, therefore I don’t want to put them in an awkward situation of not knowing what to say back to me. Sometimes, I feel as though I need to protect others from hearing them. How does one drop a bombshell like “I’m scared I’m going to die” to someone. It really is quite hard to get those words out and I completely understand where people might not know what to say back to something like that.
I’ve recently started to try and build up the courage to be open about them. It’s slow progress but I’m going to try my best. I know how important it is to do and I’ve been told already by many of my friends that it’s okay to do and honestly, it is such a relief to hear that.
Through out this journey I have experienced many fears. Obviously all my fears are in relation to cancer. Some I haven’t told anyone. I want to keep this post as real, and raw as possible mainly for other cancer patients out there who may be experiencing these fears. I understand if some of you do find hearing certain things confronting and by all means, you don’t need to read on. This is just me trying to be as open as possible. It’s part of my life for me right now. And maybe getting all this out on here will offer me some sort of relief.
Death. This one has affected me majorly this year.
No one wants to die. But we all know it’s going to happen one day. One day when we are old and wrinkly and we have lived our whole lives to the fullest. That’s how it’s supposed to happen right? I fear that I will die, too soon, without having lived out my beautiful, long life. I fear that cancer may claim my life. How do I know that it won’t? Nothing is set in stone. And my life isn’t guarantee’d. It’s such an awful feeling not knowing.
Sometimes I sit around at home just thinking and thinking. When is this going to end? Is it even going to end? How is it going to end? Sometime’s I feel like I’m just waiting around. Waiting around for either the news that I’m in remission, or the news that nothing is working and there isn’t anything they can do. These thoughts truly play with your mind. It can be hard to control them. But I have to say, I’ve been pretty damn good with it. Considering.
Honestly, I’m terrified of death. I’ve been told not to fear it and to accept it, because everyone dies. Sure, I can accept that I’m going to die when I’m ready and in my 90’s. But how does one accept it if their lives were to be taken from them, from a nasty disease and in their 20’s? That isn’t the way it should be. And I’m not ready to go. I have so much I want to do and experience in this lifetime, I just need to give cancer the boot!
If I feel anything at all on my body, like an itch or a sore back/hip. I freak out. As these were my initial symptoms. I think, shit, is the cancer spreading? Or is this all in my head? Why is my back still sore? Is it just damaged from cancer? I don’t know! As for the lumps that are in the left side of my neck. It’s hard to not constantly feel them all the time. Are they getting smaller? Are they smaller than they were 15 minutes ago? I have definitely cut down on feeling them. I had to force myself to stop. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t do it. I’d be lying if I said I stopped completely. But I most definitely don’t do it as much! Let’s just say, cancer is a real mental battle.
Sometimes when I’m in bed ready to go to sleep, I will force myself to stay awake. This happens because I don’t want to close my eyes in fear that I won’t wake up in the morning. I know it sounds fucking crazy. This fear is honestly just a mind game. I know it’s not real, but at the time of this happening I truly think that it is. It terrifies me so much! I will sometimes get mum to sleep in my bed with me and eventually I must just doze off because I wake in the morning and I’m like, fuck. Thank goodness. This honestly doesn’t happen often. It’s extremely rare. I feel like it happens when I’m just super exhausted and the anxiety creeps in. To be honest, this fear embarrass’s me. I don’t talk about it at all because I just think I must sound so ridiculous. But here we are! It’s all out in the open now haha.
I fear, when I go into remission that I’ll feel as though I’m always going to be looking over my shoulder. Will I ever feel safe from disease again? Am I going to constantly be thinking the cancer has returned? When I go into remission, am I going to be constantly on edge? Will I feel freedom? I guess I will cross that bridge when it comes to it. But I can’t help but think of these things sometimes.
Pet scans. It may sound super easy and simple. You just go in, get the scan and leave on your merry way. Not for a cancer patient. Pet scans are daunting. They are what tells you an outcome. I dread the call or the appointment every single time. I feel physically sick when it’s time to hear results. A lot of the time, for me, they haven’t been the best of news. I think that this has affected me quite majorly. Scanxiety is real people! It’s not made up, and it’s not all in your head!
During these moments, I feel like I need a lot of comfort and support. If I sit there on my own, whilst these fears are happening, I can spiral downwards. They can play on your mind so much to a point where you start believing them. It’s a shit feeling. I’m lucky that all my friends and families are willing to always be there by my side. To sit with me in silence, to talk it out, to cry, or to hold me. I just need to open up about these more. Maybe a lot more than I do, so maybe when they say they want to be there for me, they can.
I don’t want to live with cancer in my body. And I most certainly do not want to die. I don’t want to be taken away from this beautiful earth yet. From my friends and my family. From all my life experiences that are still yet to happen. The thought of this makes me so scared. It honestly makes me feel sick in the stomach to the point that I just want to scream. It really is a feeling I can’t describe. And if anyone has any suggestions or tips on how I can work through these feelings, please, by all means, write them in the comment box.
This is in no way a post trying to get sympathy. It’s simply just me wanting to be honest and share what life’s like as a cancer patient. I think sharing personal aspects of one’s life is helpful for other people out there, to know that they aren’t going crazy and that other people are experiencing crappy situations as well. I would have loved to of read personal cancer stories like these when I first got diagnosed, to know that these feelings were in fact normal. And now, I finally can! As I have joined a network https://youcan.org.au/h3-blog full of patients and survivors who share their own journey’s and experiences with cancer.
P.s. This blog was inspired because I couldn’t sleep Christmas night. I was so exhausted and I had anxiety. I was feeling fearful for my life. Of the pain in my left hip and the lumps in my neck. It was around 10:00pm that I opened my laptop and started writing up a draft for this. I found it helped a lot! I got all these fears out, and onto this resulting in me falling asleep. For the past couple of weeks I haven’t been 100%. I haven’t been in a good headspace and I can’t seem to pull myself out of this one. I’m not sure why this is happening as bad as it is this time. I think possibly, it’s because I know I have a scan coming up. And I also know that I don’t have any options for other treatments left. It’s all riding on this treatment I’m on now and that is starting to freak me the f out!