It's World Cancer Day once again, and it's just sobering to me when I look back at this huge list of blogs in my archives, over 100,000 words worth, including a few about previous World Cancer Days.
There's no succinct way to put into words what it was like to have been a 33 year old invincible young adult male with two young kids at home, and then suddenly being diagnosed with testicular cancer and having to fight for my life, and then being afraid for my life in the years after because you never really know if it's truly gone or not. But here's 100,000+ that describe it all!
Over the years I finally taught myself to not allow my past to haunt me - we learn very quickly how fleeting and uncertain life can be as cancer fighters and survivors, but I don't really think about the future much either. I've learned to just live in and stay focused on the present, to enjoy my life and my family as much as possible, and whatever's going to happen in the future is going to happen. Could my cancer going to come back? Could I going to get another cancer? Could something else going to happen? We’ve just learned to expect the unexpected in our lives in so many other ways than cancer, and I don't ask myself questions like these anymore, because the only thing they ever succeeded in accomplishing was to terrify me and cause myself needless anxiety and spoil my present. The answer is yes, and of that could happen, but it might not, and I've made peace with never knowing and have stopped being afraid.
Scrolling down this long list of blogs is haunting and sends chills down my spine, knowing full well where I was when I wrote them all, commonly in tears with a bottle of wine next to me. I just have to remind myself that I overcame it all, and that it's all in the past and not happening NOW. That keeps the PTSD at bay, stops the depression from happening, and keeps me on an even keel. It’s sobering to me that this has been my life, but also sobering to know that so many cancer “survivors” continue to suffer in such ways even decades after their cancer fights. You would be shocked to know how many cancer survivors out there remain trapped in post-cancer depressions, cannot overcome their anxieties nor even post-traumatic stress, and never manage to escape it. It’s no way to live a life, and not so easy to just “switch it off” when much of it is in the realm of our subconsciousness, which we have no conscious control over.
Most every single day, random bursts of shooting nerve pain down my legs and into my feet serve as constant reminders of the hell I’ve been through, permanent side effects of four rounds of Cisplatin based chemotherapy that cured me 8 years ago. This random physical pain is a small burden to carry in comparison to having a clear mind and soul that’s free of the chains of PTSD, and other mental health issues that I suffered from for years after cancer. That was the greatest burden of all, having far exceeded the actual physical fight against the cancer itself, and it’s a challenge of our generation to help show others the way forward to thriving after cancer. It’s why I continue to put myself out there and to share my story as a cancer survivor and a mental health advocate, in the hopes that my words will resonate, and that others will be able to free themselves of these post-cancer burdens as well.
Wishing everyone clear scans and tests, and a happy and healthy 2019!