These emotions were something that I was only able to express to my counsellor to being with. I felt like a horrible human for thinking the way I was. But I was overcome by thoughts of them both.
Guilt for getting sick. Guilt for getting better! I was feeling guilty because I had not been more sick throughout my treatment. Don’t get me wrong, I was sick enough but when I spoke to people and heard their stories of how unbelievably sick they were, I was telling myself I had cancer light. This was my defense mechanism because I was not able to cope with the fact that I had cancer, I was just not able to deal with it and in classic me style – if I made a joke of it, that would mask what I was really feeling! Everyone’s journey is different but I wasn’t able to see that – I was comparing myself to everyone else – how they reacted after treatment, how they seemed so much stronger than I was. Why wasn’t I able to just get on with it? I had just beaten cancer physically. Why was the mental side of it kicking my ass? Speaking to my counsellor was invaluable. She was able to help me put all these thoughts in order and to talk through them, without fear of any judgement or repercussions. I badly needed to make sense of it all. It was such a safe space and it felt so good to get it all out. Saying it out loud to one person, made it easier to be honest with my family and friends – and again like the fear about work and the tiredness, once I started being honest with how I felt I was able to start working through my mental state of recovery, as opposed to just my physical side.
The Anger. I was angry as to why I was never warned about this side of this disease – what comes after your physical treatment is finished. It felt like I was in some weird hospital bubble and spat out the other side and almost overnight, was left on my own. I was so prepared for the physical fight. I had all the tools in my arsenal but I feel that I was so under prepared for what came once treatment was over. I have never felt so weak. It made me angry. I am 33 years old now – why can’t my young healthy body, mind and soul come back as quickly as I wanted and expected it to? Why am I the one who has to come in to the hospital on a regular basis for check-ups to make sure this rotten disease had not returned – this is not what I thought I would be doing at this stage in my life. But again, I was afraid to voice these thoughts over the fear someone would think I was ungrateful for getting better. I did not want to seem selfish to the outside world but this was my delayed reaction to the whole situation – I was not angry when I was diagnosed, I was not angry when I was having treatment – I knew that was all going to be tough, it was going to be a job in itself to get through that but the aftermath was making me angry and I felt angry at feeling so alone with these thoughts.
Both of these are things that come and go now – a lot less frequently thank god but they are still present sometimes. But I think for me it’s important that when I do have these feelings and emotions, that I allow myself to and I don’t dismiss them or hide them. I have so many great sounding boards around me that I can tell people how I am feeling and I always feel so much better when I do get it off my chest – it’s like I’m acknowledging it but then I’m letting it go!