Dear Cancer,

 

Love, Vanessa

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Navigating Life after the Storm

Updated: Apr 13

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Dear Cancer,


You’ve made my life very difficult over the last few years, especially after I finished all of my treatment. l really struggled after completing chemo and radiation. During treatment, I was in survival mode; I didn’t have time to think about what was really going on. Once I was all done however, I felt like I should have been happy and excited. I thought that I would finally be able to move on and put all of this behind me. I had quite a few people even say to me “Wow, you’re all done! You must be so happy!”


The truth was that I wasn’t happy at all. I was lost, lonely, and I didn’t know who I was or what my place in this world was anymore. Unfortunately, medical professionals don’t really tell you that the ‘struggle is real’ once you finish treatment, you just kind of have to figure it out on your own. Frankly, I was warned by a few friends that had gone through a cancer diagnosis that this could happen, but I didn’t truly realize the extent of this until I experienced it for myself. Going through all this trauma really messed with my head. I was filled with self-doubt and worry, and lost confidence in who I was.


I think, as with any trauma, you shouldn’t try to go through it alone. It’s so important to reach out to professionals such as your family doctor, a therapist, social worker, or a cancer support group. Not only does your body go through a lot of physical pain and challenges, but your mental health suffers too; keeping it all in is not good for anyone! Finding a safe space to share your feelings and let out the hurt is definitely a way you can help yourself to move on and begin the healing process. The healing process can be quite an epic journey, but just know that asking for help is okay. You do not need to struggle alone—no one should ever have to struggle alone!


So where am I at now? I have come to a place where I’ve realized that I have changed as a person, and I am okay with it. Going through a cancer diagnosis, not once but twice, really opened my eyes up to the world around me. It’s really crazy what life-experiences can do to a person. I no longer care about things like drama between friends or coworkers. To be blunt, I couldn’t care less when someone complains about the time they were late for a hair appointment, or when someone complains that they are too busy to do anything for themselves because they are constantly busy driving their kids to sport events. Do you know why I feel this way? It is because there are more important things in life, and I have learned this first hand. I can’t stand when people complain about simple, easy things, or when they make “problems of solutions”, as my husband says. This may sound harsh to you, but the reality is that going through a life-altering experience truly changes the way you think about everything. There is so much more to life, and I wish I could literally shake the nonsense out of some people who complain just to complain, or to hear the sound of their own voice.


After a lot of hard work, I now know that I have purpose—and that purpose is to help others that are dealing with cancer. I literally just woke up one day and decided I wanted to start to blog about my journey, and you know what? This was the best thing I ever did! Not only am I (hopefully) helping others, but I am also helping myself heal. I have been able to take a step back and realize that there is a reason that I’ve gone through all of this bullsh*t. First, I think it was to make me a stronger person, and to live the best life that I possibly can. More importantly though, I think that I went through cancer twice to use my own experience to help other people who may also be going through something similar, whether it may be cancer related or not. Life is hard, and I think it’s important for others who are struggling to realize that they are not alone in their struggles. We are all human and we all have our own personal battles raging inside.


After being such a private person for the majority of my life, I finally have found my voice, and to be honest, it feels SO damn good! I am no longer embarrassed about my illness or my situation. Obviously, getting diagnosed with cancer was not my fault, and I’ve finally both realized and internalized that. I no longer want to hide behind my scars; I want to embrace them and walk around with pride. I’ve been through some crazy sh*t and I want to embrace it! I am here, and I made it through to the other side!


I also think sharing my experience has given me some closure and the opportunity to move on from these times in my life. I believe that I have changed, and I am a better person. I feel so much more empathy for people who struggle. I have so much more love for the people in my life. I feel happy every single day. Please don’t get me wrong-- I have my days and moments. I am far from perfect, but I am so thankful for my struggle because I have become a better version of myself. I am so thankful for who I am today.


Cancer, I can actually thank you. I’m not sure what my life would look like at the moment, if I didn’t go through these struggles. I do know that if someone told me they could take cancer away from me, I would say no. Cancer has become a large part of me and it took me a while, but I have learned to love myself in spite of it. Cancer was a part of me, but it’s not the ONLY part. You are more than just your illness, and you always will be. I am so grateful that I have been able to take this experience and look at it in a positive light. I know I could sit here, feeling sorry for myself and dwell on the ‘why me’, or eff cancer or just being angry at the world, but I am choosing not to do this anymore! I’ve done a lot of grieving, and I finally am able to move forward and see the world in a different light.


Love,


Vanessa


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