Why I don’t celebrate “Pinktober”


Image courtesy of metup.org.

I admit, before going through cancer, and right after finishing treatments, I did a few cancer walks. I believed I was helping a great cause. As I did more and more walks, I felt sadder inside. I survived cancer, so how come I am not like one of the happy-go-lucky girls all dressed in pink ribbons, celebrating their triumphs?

For me, I just haven’t been able to get past what I’ve learned and what I’ve seen in relation to breast cancer.

When I was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer, my doctors didn’t speak to me about metastatic breast cancer. They figure I wasn’t dealing with that at the time so why overwhelm me with all the possibilities. I was too scared to ask questions that didn’t apply to my case. I did think I was going to die, like all of us do at the beginning of this process — but when my doctors told me “you will be fine,” I held on to that, which isn’t a bad thing. I do have a family history of cancers and a few of my family members have died from metastatic breast cancer. In my mind, I thought their cancer was caught late. But later I found out that wasn’t the case. A couple of them had caught their cancers early but then their cancer metastasized. Now I am not too sure I will be OK, because no one really knows.

I joined an online forum during my treatments — a group of over 200 ladies and a few men (yes, men get breast cancer too). I knew their stories. Some were very similar to mine. Some of them eventually faced stage 4, and then died. I was exposed to a lot of information doctors don’t always tell you — how sometimes tests aren’t accurate, or how having clear lymph nodes doesn’t mean your cancer won’t spread, for example. I found myself coming back to my oncologist and asking a lot of questions about my case, but she didn’t have all the answers. All my doctors can do is monitor me closely, but the truth is, they don’t know if I will be one of those “30% of patients” (note, numbers may be higher) who go from early stage to having metastatic breast cancer—stage 4. They also can’t stop a metastasis from occurring.

But I am doing well so far, so why is it that I can’t be at peace with that knowledge and move on? Because there is no cure for breast cancer and none of us are truly ever done after treatments.

And there is another reason:

There isn’t enough funding for stage 4 research, which is why we now have 110 women dying every day from metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. alone— About 40,290 women in the U.S. are expected to die this year (breastcancer.org).

After learning more about breast cancer, and after seeing so many people die from it, including family members, I just don’t feel like celebrating. This doesn’t mean I am ungrateful for being alive or that I feel bitter. It means I am sad others have died from the same disease I have. I am also worried about OUR future, because of the limited amount of funding there is to find a cure.

I understand every patient is entitled to handle their cancer as they please — and it is not my intention to take away hope, because I have some hope too. But please educate yourself about the disease. Educate others. Get involved. Know which organizations are focusing on finding the cure — Metavivor is a great start. There are others too. However, I am not so confident of some other well-known organizations that wrapped themselves in pink ribbons every October but don’t contribute much to advance cancer research. Metastatic breast cancer needs more research. We have enough awareness about cancer— it is the second leading cause of death in the U.S., so by now we all know it exists.

What we need is a cure so we can all be truly done with cancer and have more reasons to celebrate, in more colors than just pink.

Posted in Awareness | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Sweet things that happened to me during my cancer treatments

Today I thought of my chemo days. It’s the kind of event you can’t completely forget about. As I reflected I realized it was not all bad during my cancer mess. I received great support, and those were the memories that came to mind – some of the sweetest things that happened to me during my cancer treatments that contributed to my recovery.

So before my chemo brain gets the best of me, I thought I would write them down so I can always remember them and feel grateful.

My fiancé’s mornings’ notes: Every morning when I opened my eyes there was always a note written by my guy before he left for work.

DSC_0007My mom’s persistence on how bathtubs are full of germs: I stayed in her house during treatments, and she would clean the bathtub everyday so I did not catch an infection in my toe nails – due to my weak immune system. Even after 3 months of being finished with chemo, I would still catch her cleaning the bathtub for me.

My sister’s correction of physics: I was wrapped in a blanket in the chemo room because I was always cold. She noticed the blanket, which was pulled up under my chin, had started to slip down my neck. She made sure to tuck it back up where it belonged and patted it gently.

My cousin’s vulnerability: My cousin Bryan who visited me from the Dominican Republic sat by my side after I was done with one of my chemo infusions. He is usually a very talkative kid, but on that day he just looked at me and wrapped his arms around me.

My aunt’s and uncle’s visits (from the Dominican Republic): My aunt Rossy took care of me during my two surgeries (for a month)—helped me clean my apartment, fed me, prayed for me every night, helped me shower, came with me to my appts., was with me during my surgeries at the hospital, took me to church. And my uncle who came to be with me for one of the chemo treatments and stayed in the chemo room for the entire infusion. Then, a few weeks later, he sent his three kids to cheer me up.

My younger cousins’ letters: This still makes me smile. There were letters and cards my cousins created just for me. They could not come to visit me but they made sure I received their love.

????????????????????????????????????Religious competitions: There are Christians, Catholics and Saint believers among my friends and family. It was sweet to see each one of them claiming their God/Saint was helping with my recovery and not the others. Hey, as long as I was recovering, it didn’t matter who did the job.

My cousin’s visit from Mexico: Cooking is not her thing but she persistently wanted to cook me a meal. I love to cook so I ended up cooking for the both of us. Why not? I had the energy. So allowing me to be self-sufficient was more than I could ask for.

My great-aunt’s revelations: Although I can’t list them all, there is one I must mention. She said “I love you” to me. If you knew her, you would realize this is a big deal. She is not the kind of person to express her emotions, in any shape or form.

Co-workers: I had a bag full of goodies waiting for me at my desk one morning. All kinds of healthy foods to bring with me during chemo—even Biotene which helped prevent mouth sores. One texted me every day for the whole 5 months of treatment—from asking me how I was doing to sending me stories she made up about how Christopher from the Sopranos and I had a love affair. Another one handled some of my projects at work. They even did a walk in support of me that year.

My cat’s hugs: My cat is not affectionate, but she didn’t leave my side when I finally returned home from treatments.

NellymFor once, I saw winter as a blessing rather than a bad reminder in my life: Everyone who knows me knows I dislike the winter. It’s a combination of things: I’ve received a lot of bad news in the winter, for example – losing my mama and great-aunt, being diagnosed with breast cancer and my aunt being diagnosed with leukemia. One day, it snowed heavily, and I went outside and uncover myself to let the snow touch my face and arms. For that moment I forgot about all the cancer associations and simply enjoyed the experience of being able to see another winter.

My friends: They slept over to be with me. They did not question anything which I appreciated. They were simply there to listen and to help.

Roberto: He took care of my animals for months while I was getting treated – made sure they ate and were OK. He was with me when I shaved my head. I saw his tears when I got diagnosed with cancer, but he always told me that I would be OK.

Roberto’s family: The Santuario Del Quinche is a catholic church in Quito, Ecuador. This church is the home of the Virgen del Quinche who is known to be miraculous. Roberto’s family is devoted to her—many people from Ecuador are. They visit this church every year for the Peregrination. Roberto’s grandparents attended to request my healing.

Other cancer patients: This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the most powerful group of people I’ve ever known, my sisters and brothers who have walked the cancer path. And here’s what I mean by powerful: they were the only people who could truly calm me down and get my head clear about how to proceed. They gave me advice. They listened. Kept my spirit up. Cheered me up. Educated me. Each one of them had a special touch and a way to simply make me feel confident about my situation. I consider them family.

My medical team from MSKCC was and continues to be amazing: Dr. Chau Dang, Dr. Beryl McCormick, Dr. Mahmoud El-Tamer and the wonderful group of nurses who supported me during this difficult transition.

I want to take the time to thank everyone who was there for me during those challenging times. I can’t imagine having to go through those treatments without their support.

Did you have a sweet experience during your cancer treatments you would like to share?

Posted in Family, Reflections, Support | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Who should you tell about your cancer diagnosis?

HeyEveryone_IHCI believe it is the patients’ choice to decide who should know about their cancer diagnosis, but many times we patients don’t have full control over that. Bad news travel fast.

I felt pressured to tell people about my cancer diagnosis and I was not happy about it. I remember having an argument with a childhood friend who I wasn’t close to because she doesn’t live in the U.S. She found out about my diagnosis through a family member and was upset because I was keeping my diagnosis “a secret.” But I really wasn’t keeping it a secret. I was trying to have some level of control over my situation and one way of doing that was to carefully choose who I thought needed to know about my illness. And besides, this old friend and I hadn’t spoken in years. I felt it was inappropriate of her to demand I tell the whole world about my cancer diagnosis. She said “awareness” was important and I wasn’t doing the “right thing” to help other women.

There is no “right way” to do cancer. Patients are entitled to handle their cancer mess the way they wish to. One way to help a patient is to respect their wishes.

Finding out I had breast cancer was overwhelming for me. When you tell someone you have cancer, not only do you have to deal with your own emotional rollercoaster but you deal with people’s reactions too. As many of us know, these reactions can vary and some may have an effect on you that may not necessarily be helpful in your situation. In my case, I wanted to avoid those situations that might have interfered with my inner peace, and welcome those that helped with my recovery, which was my main focus at the time.

There are some people however, I thought needed to know.

I kept my family informed  — but not everyone. Let’s be real, we all know some family members give you energy and others drain it. Some are not as grounded or understanding or cool-headed as others. For example, one of my relatives insinuated I was not “religious” enough, and that I was being taught a lesson in order to redirect my life to a better path. “Preparate!” he said, which translates to “get ready!” Did I have another choice?

My family lives outside the U.S. in a country where it’s more culturally acceptable to say such things to people who don’t follow “celestial” rules. And these are the kinds of people I tried to stay away from. I thought they would bring the wrong energy to my situation. Perhaps it was unrealistic of me to think I could pull this off with my family, to keep some of them uninformed. In a way it was also appropriate for them to know about my diagnosis because they had to learn about their possible cancer risks as well. And regardless of their beliefs and level of ignorance, I still wanted their support and prayers, which I received (and for that I am grateful). So, eventually everyone knew.

I informed my employer — but not everyone. I didn’t really have a choice. My plan was to continue to come into the office during treatments and try to “act normal.” However, after my second chemo infusion, I was not feeling well a lot of the times. But seriously, could I really have gotten away with not telling anyone, and simply show up to work one day with no facial hair and weighing 30 pounds less than what I was? Besides, I also needed their support, which I got.

The closest people I work with knew. My situation could have impacted their workload if I was not able to fully perform my responsibilities. Also, a few of these people were close friends.

Because of my long absence, co-workers started asking where I was, and eventually everyone found out I had cancer – it was expected.

I informed my friends—but not everyone. I have wonderful friends. Some are more sensitive than others. While I was waiting for my biopsy results I remember chatting with a couple of them. They were anxiously waiting for the results too. Once I got “the phone call,” I told them. “I am crying,” one said to me. I immediately signed off from chat without a response. Those who I informed knew me well enough that they knew how to act with me. They also knew when not to take my moods personally. And that was very comforting for me because they allowed me to be myself.

I alerted my doctors—but not everyone. My cancer hospital gave me the option of choosing which of my doctors they should keep informed about my health status. This took some of the burden off me. I let MSKCC inform the doctors I frequently saw for my care— GYN, PCP, and cardiologist. I thought it was important for them to know so they could follow-up and pay more attention to me, which they have been doing.

And friends, this was about all the communication I could handle about my diagnosis, at the time. It wasn’t until I was almost done with chemo that I started to talk to more and more people about my illness. It took me almost 3 years to finally publish my blog, which I started mostly because of my struggles with survivorship. Now I am at a place where I can share my story with everyone.

Some patients feel comfortable telling people about their cancer diagnosis right away and others don’t. Some patients just need time. These are acceptable behaviors because each patient copes differently. I didn’t expect people to understand why I kept my diagnosis semi-private. I only wanted my wishes to be respected. And to me, that’s a meaningful sign of support.

Did you share your cancer diagnosis right away?
Who did you share it with?

Posted in c World, My Wishes, Support | Tagged , | 31 Comments

Survivorship: my life illustrated

Recently, Heather posted a really funny article at Invasive Duct Tales about her cancer feelings in animation (thank you for the laugh and for the idea, Heather!). It made me laugh so much that it inspired me to illustrate my own experience with survivorship, to you.

Can you relate to some of these?

Me waiting to hear from my Oncologist office about my test/scan results, because I refuse to call.

nervous animated GIF


Half celebrating getting good test results right before wondering how accurate they are.

highqualitys animated GIF


Me explaining to my Oncologist that I need to see her more than once a year.

cat animated GIF

My reaction when people tell me I need to move on after cancer.

girls animated GIF


Me when someone tells me I need to live life to the fullest because I survived cancer.

serious animated GIF


My reaction when people tell me my cancer was a gift.

eye roll animated GIF


When my friends ask me to hang out late.

lazy animated GIF


When I read social media threads on miracle cancer cures.

computer animated GIF


How I feel about winter because of cancer associations.

grumpy animated GIF


My state of mind 24/7 because of Tamoxifen.

reaction animated GIF


What I really wish I could be doing at my oncologist’s office.

hoppip animated GIF


Posted in Coping after cancer | Tagged | 27 Comments

Missing my spontaneity

but…Ever since my cancer diagnosis, I find myself having a hard time planning too far ahead. I’ve lost a sense of spontaneity and often have to check my calendar for any upcoming doctor’s appts. before making plans. That didn’t use to be an issue for me because I always thought I was a young, healthy woman. So timing didn’t matter. I am not saying I am not healthy today but once you’re a citizen of cancer-land you feel less confident. At least I do.

Also, priorities change.

Let’s talk about vacations, for example. I schedule all my doctors’ appts. before I go on vacation, because I don’t want to think about them while I am trying to enjoy myself. I even postpone making travel decisions until after my appointments.

When I originally found my breast lump, I saw my GYN right away. I had already booked a trip to go visit my family in the Dominican Republic for Christmas. Three days before my flight, the doctor told me I needed a biopsy because my lump was a solid mass. Of course there were no appointments available for me before my trip. I did not know what else I could have done. I went on my vacation trying to believe that what they had found was a fibroadenoma — my GYN suspected that’s what it was.

But something didn’t feel right. I knew it was something more serious. What prompted me to feel this way was the look on the sonogram technician’s face. She did not say a word to me about what she thought the breast lump could be, since technicians aren’t supposed to give patients a diagnosis. But the look on her face gave it away — it wasn’t a look of fear but a look of “this has to be cancer.” She looked like she was very familiar with cases like mine. And those clicks! She didn’t stop taking pictures of the lump. And after all the weird dreams I was having prior to me finding my lump — yes, I take dreams seriously — I just felt something was about to change about my life. I knew I had cancer.

I had a terrible time while I was away. I didn’t sleep. I had the ocean a few steps away from me and didn’t even go in. The resort was so beautiful and peaceful but that didn’t matter. I had no peace of mind. I couldn’t even smile because I was worried about the biopsy. And of course, I spent countless hours in my room reaching out to Dr. Google about breast biopsies. It was awful. I felt a sense of desperation — a loss of control.

I refuse to experience that feeling ever again while on vacation. So now my travels depend on when those doctor’s appointments are. I also make sure I get the results before going anywhere.

My daydreams about relocating have also been affected by my lack of spontaneity. The thought of experiencing life someplace else, like living on a farm, has always turned me on. Now, because my doctors are here, I find it hard to envision myself ever living outside of NYC and I can’t stand it. I fear losing my medical team at MSKCC. I am aware there are good doctors everywhere, but I am still feeling like a baby bird who doesn’t want to leave her nest — reason why I continue to see my Onco 2x a year despite her telling me this is not necessary.

Another thing that has been affected by my lack of spontaneity is when and how late I stay out. I used to spend late night hours with friends. I hardly ever felt tired. But I don’t do that anymore. By 10PM I am sleepy. Now my joints are starting to hurt from Tamoxifen too. Some friends call me “old lady” but I know they mean well. Cancer treatments can make you feel older.

One of the expectations people have of cancer patients is that, once you’ve done cancer, you have to live life to the fullest; otherwise you’re doing survivorship the wrong way. I find myself attacking these expectations because it’s the wrong perception. We are regular people and only we know how to handle our challenges the best way we can for us. I am not ashamed to admit I am not a people’s pleaser. I like to stay true to myself especially when it’s related to my health.

But here’s one thing I’ve discovered about me: I am who I am. Recently, when I was at my GYN’s office the doctor said to me, “no matter what I tell you, you will always worry. And I guess that’s OK because it’s who you are.”

To think of it, I remember my student chapter advisor repeatedly telling me during college, “poor mother of yours! You are such a big worrier!” Others have said this to me too.

I’ve realized that the way I handle my cancer has a lot to do with the kind of person that I am. I like to have control over situations — and who doesn’t? Knowing about my health before making plans has nothing to do with “giving power” to cancer, as some people say. It has to do with the fact that I am a worrier and I’ve always been. Peace of mind is extremely important to me.

In a way I wish I could plan my vacations without having to think about my oncology appts. I also wish life circumstances hadn’t drastically change the way I function but I’ve adjusted as best as I can. Although I’ve lost my sense of spontaneity, I didn’t lose my desire to continue living. And that has to count for something.

Do you have a hard time planning too far ahead ever since your cancer diagnosis?
Do you find yourself making more plans than you used to because of your cancer diagnosis?

Posted in Coping after cancer | Tagged , | 22 Comments

My colposcopy results and my constant doubts

My favorite Looney Tunes character is Sylvester the cat, who, as you know, is always trying to eat Tweety bird. Tweety is no angel – perhaps he deserved to be eaten. At least I wanted him to be. But Sylvester always fails.

However, there’s one Sylvester and Tweety cartoon that I’ll never forget because it was such a happy surprise for me. Sylvester chomps the annoying Tweety. I remember jumping off my chair with excitement and yelling, “Yes! Finally you ate that little shit!” I felt so relieved that poor Sylvester had finally accomplished what he always wanted.

But that excitement only lasted a few seconds because Granny, Tweety’s owner, rescues the bird. Sylvester’s excitement is over.

This week, my excitement after receiving a good report about my pap/colposcopy results lasted about the same time as Sylvester’s victory, until my mind started to wonder.

tweety bird animated GIF

I had a reason to feel discouraged when poor Sylvester didn’t get to eat the bird. But I realize that I have no logical reasons to feel discouraged or doubtful about my good test results — so why am I always over-thinking? Let’s just say I know what I am dealing with here: cells are tricky. Plus, I’ve heard too many stories about false test results. My mind often travels to the dark place.

When my GYN informed me that, according to the biopsies performed last week, I do not have cervical cancer, I was so happily surprised and relieved. In a way, I was already preparing myself to deal with another cancer, which is why I had made that appt. with a GYN oncologist at MSK. I am still planning on seeing him in a couple of weeks to get a second opinion. Or is this my third opinion now?

My excitement when receiving the good news about my results only lasted a few seconds because my brain decided to start wondering how accurate those results were.

reb_2If I wasn’t a cancer patient already I would have let denial do his job and allow my mind to rest at peace. I would have held on to the good news and kept going. I do that sometimes. But ever since I’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer I tend to question many of the tests that are done to me and their level of accuracy. I do try to hold on to good news, especially when there’s nothing else that can be done to prove something is wrong with my health. I mean, tests can only go so far, right?

I sometimes have doubts after getting good results and I am not sure if I am being sensible. After hanging up the phone with my GYN this week, I started to wonder if those biopsies were taken from the same spot(s) the original samples were taken from – when the Pap smear was performed. What if she missed the spots? Yes, getting tests done is very important but you also want to get accurate information from those tests. No tests are 100% accurate, are they?

I know — this is the part where we need to stay “positive” and hope for the best. Keep the faith alive. But it’s a little challenging for me sometimes because I am already a cancer patient.

Why were my cells abnormal to begin with? I asked myself.

I need to be followed up again in 6 months with another pap smear.

I do feel a level of relief that the colposcopy report did not show cervical cancer, of course. Again, I don’t want to sound ungrateful. It is unfortunate that after being diagnosed with breast cancer, I just don’t feel like I can trust my body anymore. But I also need to learn to trust a little more because I am doing everything I possibly can to monitor my heath, while realizing I have no control over what can happen. My medical team is always on top of things, but there are limits to how much they can do as well. This is about all the control I can have when it comes to my health.

I need to hold on to the good news as everything can shift from one day to the next.

Posted in Paranoia | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Sharing a positive experience (because there aren’t enough of them on the internet)

Dr. google

Image credit to KCLR96FM News & Sport

So I admit it, I seek medical advice from Dr. Google. I like to prepare myself mentally before going into any medical procedure. I spend countless hours searching. And even after listening to close friends telling me not to worry, I keep searching. I need to know the worse-case scenario.

Why do I torture myself? The unknown can be scary.

It’s not always wise to look for answers on the internet. Not all sources have accurate information and you can’t trust everything you read. But when it comes to people sharing their experiences with medical procedures on the internet, I find that there are a lot more bad experiences shared than good experiences. I sometimes feel the internet was created so people can complain about everything they are unhappy about. We should share our positive experiences too.

If you recall from one of my previous posts, I decided to go for a second opinion after being told by my onco hospital that I did not need yearly pap smears. Sure enough, after receiving an abnormal pap result early this month, my GYN told me I needed to get a colposcopy to rule out cervical cancer. I felt scared.

I got my colposcopy done yesterday. Going in, I was terrified. I was scared because I did too much reading on the internet about other people’s experiences. Based on that reading, I was expecting this procedure to be painful. I was expecting to faint or throw up, because that’s how I react to pain.

I am happy to report that the procedure was a painless experience. My GYN used iodine to numb my cervix, which I highly recommend if your doctor is performing biopsies. I also took an Advil and an Ativan prior to the procedure. Even if your doctor isn’t performing a biopsy, the procedure itself is just a little uncomfortable, like getting a pap smear without the swab.

The ironic thing — a lesson I wish I would learn for the future — is that my obsessing about the procedure for two weeks online created much more pain and anxiety for me than the procedure did.

As it turned out, my GYN saw some minor spots. Then she took some biopsies from those areas in question. She also performed an endocervical curettage (ECC) to be thorough, because she is just wonderful in that way. ECC is a procedure in which the cervical canal is scraped to test for abnormal, precancerous conditions, or cervical cancer.

I am expecting to receive the results in two weeks, maybe sooner. I have scheduled an appt. to see a GYN oncologist at MSKCC. He specializes in uterine, cervical and ovarian cancers. I may not have cervical cancer but if further treatment is needed for me, he will take over the case from that moment on. I also want to speak to him about the possibility of doing a hysterectomy. Sounds drastic, I know. But, to be honest, I am tired. I already have the anxiety of getting frequently checked for my breast cancer.

I need to understand what getting these results mean for my health moving forward. Do I need to be monitored more frequently for this too? I also need to understand what my risks are if I decide to keep all my reproductive organs. I want a child but I am scared of facing a gynecological cancer. So here I am again, needing to make important big decisions. Who said we’re ever done with cancer?

We all know what the worst part of all of this is, right?


I will be sure to update you all about what challenges I may be facing next.

Now, let me go back to why sharing our positive stories is so important. I am sure there are thousands of those good stories out there but no one seems to spend time writing about them on the internet because most people want to move on after learning they are OK. But I think it is so important to share these good stories too. These are the stories that encourage people to keep going. They bring us hope. So I encourage you, if you have a good story to tell about a medical procedure you experienced, please share it. Go online and look to see who is scared out of their mind wanting to know about other people’s experiences and connect with that person.

The same goes for illnesses such as cancer. If you have a good story to share, please do so.

I had an idea today: I think there should be a website dedicated to only good experiences people have with medical procedures. You can go in and share your story so when others come visit that website, they can read them. The stories can be categorized by procedure type. This can help people with their anxiety and know they are not alone. Does this already exist?

Knowing myself, even if such a site existed, I would still search for worst-case scenarios through Dr. Google.

Posted in Fertility | Tagged , , , | 17 Comments

Caregivers need support too

I sometimes wonder how intensely people worry about me when it comes to my health. Often, others don’t want to show us their real emotions during cancer – and even during post-treatments – so as not to overwhelm us. I am so caught up with my own cancer mess, finding ways to cope and moving forward, that I forget that others around me are also trying to do the same. I am referring to those who hold our hands when we walk the cancer path. We often lean on them, but who do they lean on?

I will always have so much respect for caregivers. It’s a very difficult job and, when someone commits to doing it, it’s not only a sacrifice but a big act of unconditional love. Sometimes the commitment of being a caregiver goes beyond cancer treatments. My fiancé was and continues to be my caregiver.

I often wonder if caregivers get dismissive comments about their emotions and fears, the same way we cancer patients do. My guy does. His loved ones have wondered why he – we— haven’t fully moved on from this cancer mess when treatments are now behind us. But I am not done with cancer and he continues to be my caregiver.

Unless you’ve been a caregiver, I am not sure you fully understand their level of commitment and fear, because they’re scared too. Lately, I’ve been trying to ask more about my partner’s feelings. I don’t recall us ever talking about his emotions because we’ve been focused on my well-being. What I know is that he hasn’t moved on after my cancer diagnosis because he can’t. He struggles the same way I do at times. Every oncology appointment I go to he experiences anxiety with me.

He hasn’t been himself for quite a while now but neither have I. What really prompted me to question his state of mind was something that happened in the middle of the night while we were away recently. We were trying to sleep but the room was chilly. I was too tired to move. He covered us both with the blanket. I still wasn’t moving but I was awake. I noticed he gently touched my shoulders as he leaned forward to see if I was awake. When he saw I didn’t move, he placed his fingers in front of my nose to feel my breathing. He did this for a while too, to make sure. I eventually moved so he would know I was alive.

This made me reflect about his fears and how he really feels about being with someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. Although I have my assumptions, I am not sure I fully understand the complexity of his emotions because I am too busy trying to understand my own.

I worry about his state of mind because he basically doesn’t have anyone to talk to. I am lucky that I have other patients who provide me with a lot of support and understanding. I am also not afraid to reach out but he is the type to keep things inside which can be unhealthy. Could this be a testosterone effect? I don’t know but I need him to be mentally well. I may need to help us reach some level of confidence.

Thinking about my partner’s fears, I’ve come to realize I didn’t know them all – and how intense his feelings were. He is the type to not want to burden anyone with his problems but this isn’t helping us.

I’ve also realized that I have abandoned him in some way. I have even suggested he doesn’t have to be part of this cancer mess if he chooses not to be out of my own frustrations. These words hurt him.

I feel guilty because I am not sure I am there for him as much as he is there for me. I depend on him emotionally and he is so focused on me but I haven’t been able to offer the same level of support. I sometimes hide through my blog and my writing because I guess in a way I am also scared to reach a level of normalcy and get too comfortable in a situation that isn’t promised. Ever since my cancer diagnosis, I am afraid to hold on to anything too tightly. And I am afraid of what might happen to my guy, holding on so tightly to something that may not be there forever.

My guy is afraid of losing me. Everyday. I wasn’t even noticing his deep fears. He says that even when we are home together, I go away. I am often absent from him. I hide on my computer. He is right. I do. This isn’t helpful to our relationship. After some reflection I’ve decided to try to not be afraid to live a normal life with my partner. To hold his hands the same way he held and continues to hold mine.

Do you currently have a caregiver? What things have you done to support your caregiver?

Posted in Coping after cancer, Reflections, Support | Tagged , | 34 Comments