I found my social media post about World Cancer Day from last year (before this website existed), where I was finally ready to start opening up about my challenges with post-traumatic stress after cancer. I thought it would take a few months to write up, but it ended up taking all year, and I'm still not done. Writing about PTS after cancer is probably one of the hardest, but most worthwhile things I've ever done. Writing is very cathartic for me, and just being able to express all that I've been through helps me to heal from it all. I ended up having so much to say on PTS after cancer, that I had to split it up into three parts. I got through the first two parts last year, and am finally gearing up to start writing the final part in the coming weeks. The moral of the story is that the challenges we face as cancer fighters and survivors don't end after our treatments do, but can continue on for years.
A teaser from something I'm working on, coming out in a week or two:
"Not a single aspect of life after cancer has been easy. I've struggled in every possible way that one can struggle, physically, mentally, and spiritually. My own body has terrified me and frustrated me in so many ways. It took me years just to feel safe in my own skin again, and I've had to put everything I've had into getting my body back physically. It didn’t just “bounce back” as doctors tend to suggest. I've struggled with my mind, trying to cope with periods of depression from having seen so many changes in my life so suddenly, and with post-traumatic stress from painful memories that have haunted me at times. I’ve struggled spiritually, trying to find ways to overcome my fears, to release the pain that I've felt inside, and to make peace with the past so that I could keep moving forward in life. I'm not the same person that I was before."
The changes that I've had to make in my life from fighting mental health issues after cancer such as depression and post-traumatic stress, has shaped my life after cancer just as much if not more than the experience of the physical fight against cancer itself did. I'm happy to say that this is all behind me now. I've mastered my mind, conquered my demons, and have found ways to heal spiritually from all of this. My mind still doesn't always cooperate with me fully, but there's no longer any question about who's in charge.
These essays are not light reading, but if you really want to know the hell that cancer can put you through, give it a read, and please ask anything. This is why I write. The experience of post-traumatic stress after cancer hurt me and haunted me so badly for years, that I couldn't even talk about it. I just couldn't go there, but I needed to release this pain, and am happy that I've finally started getting it out.
When I started experiencing post-traumatic stress after cancer, I scoured the web trying to find information and perspectives, but couldn't find one single solid account of someone like me experiencing post-traumatic stress after cancer, and what it felt like, and what I could even do about it. In fact, back in 2013 when this happened, cancer survivors weren't even really "allowed" to have PTS yet on the clinical side of things, which was complete rubbish.
So now through my writing on my website, the world has a real first-hand account of what PTS/PTSD can be like for cancer survivors, and thousands of people out there feel just a little less alone. US News & World Report Health even interviewed me about my story, which I was very proud to be able to contribute to at the national level.
It's so important that we all share our stories, from awareness of the diseases we've faced and early detection, to how we've coped with all that cancer has thrown our way in the aftermath. It helps knowledge about the cancer experience spread to the medical community, and it can make the experience for others out there fighting, or just trying to survive in the aftermath, feel a whole lot less alone. There's nothing worse than feeling alone.
Massive group social media hug today to all of my cancer community friends, and to everyone that's been there for me personally through this personal hell of mine. You know who you are, and how much I love you. You are my family, and I thank you.