The Ups and Downs of Having Cancer

At first you would think that having cancer is just a downer and a struggle. It is that, for sure, but there are also many things that have improved in my life since my diagnosis.When it was time to tell extended family and friends, I decided I wanted to do it in a humorous way that wouldn't make people sad. Here is my facebook post from that time:

The upside of cancer:
1. If you choose to stay in Spongebob Squarepants pajamas (even if they belong to your husband) all day, no one will dare say a word.
2. If you get a chemo port in your chest your grandchildren will think you are part robot, which makes you cool.
3. You will be encouraged to eat more fat and calories.
4. You will fit back in clothes that you "outgrew"
5. Your children will cook, clean, and use appliances that some of them claimed not to understand.
6. Your family has an automatic out for anything they don't want to do, as in "I'm sorry, I can't, my mom has cancer."

I can now add to that message of June 2012.

 7. Having cancer has made "I love you" something my family says a lot more often.
 8. We take more trips and more photos.
 9. Priorities have shifted and we try harder to focus on the important things, like family time.
Ringing the bell on my first 6 courses of chemo.

Of course, there have been times when I have not been able to keep a positive attitude, and I hit another one of those "down" times recently. I know that I will be dealing with this cancer for the rest of my life. Sometimes that just seems like too much, especially as my energy level is low, and chemo brain makes it hard to focus. We are told to keep a positive attitude because it's so important for our recovery.That's a lot of pressure during times when you are throwing up and running a fever, having a bone marrow biopsy, or learning that other friends battling cancer have lost their fight.

I read something about a year ago detailing how an actresses was coping with breast cancer. She told the interviewer how chemo had been easy to deal with, that she had continued her daily walks, and felt wonderful. Again, that is a lot of pressure on the rest of us who needed a loved one to help us bathe, and kept a large trash can next to our beds all night. 

Reading the things I wrote in 2012 has reminded me of the up times, and that this will pass. I hope that during the times I am feeling up, I will remember that others might be having trouble coping. There shouldn't be any pressure on anyone dealing with a chronic illness, we are all just doing the best we can, through all the ups and downs.

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