Life after cancer

MY LIFE WITH CANCER IS SO SIMPLE YET SO HARD

last chemo

Life is tough. There’s no doubt about that. I thought becoming diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at 27 would only make it harder. And it did, initially. A million tests, screenings, doctor appointments, surgery and the treatment afterwards. I felt as if my whole life had crumbled in front of my eyes and I knew I couldn’t do anything about it. I felt insecure, afraid and broken inside. I wanted to run and scream. I became so irritated, I felt like throwing chairs at everyone around me.

My attitude changed completely after I started chemo. I knew instantly that I needed treatment if I wanted to live.

Was it tough? Yes.

Was it as difficult as I expected? More.

Still, I realized there are a million things I can’t control, but what I can do is alter my response towards those things. Slowly, I stopped stressing about things outside of my control and I started being happy about all the little things. I was literally jumping around with joy every time I heard that my blood results were good enough to proceed with my treatment. I was happy beyond measure after I fastened the buttons on my shirt myself, regardless of my chemo brain. I was smiling if I had enough strength to go for a walk or to get out of bed. Of course, I thought about the results of the treatment and what is going to happen next. A lot. But I decided to take one thing at a time and just embrace my new, cancer-dependent life.

Experiences like that can really change your priorities and make you re-evaluate your life.

life after cancer

At this moment, I am on hormone therapy, having finished chemo and radiation about a year ago. When I think back to three years ago, I laugh at how silly my priorities were. I was stressed about the wrong things. I took many things for granted, my health included. I remember how panicked I was at university or work and how depressed I got after making a mistake or not doing well enough. Now, I don’t care about such things. The only thing that matters is my well-being. Cancer brought a different perspective into my life and changed who I was. I am fearful and fearless at the same time. I feel distressed, but also at ease.

My life has never been so simple and so hard.

All the negative emotions I feel right now are related to my fear of metastases or recurrence, but taking that completely out of the picture for a moment – I never felt so peaceful with where I am in my life. I now go for a coffee break at work when I used to stress out. Nobody will be hurt if the items are delivered with a slight delay, right?  Making decisions has never been so easy – what do I have to lose and why not? I am not afraid of getting attached or disappointed. People come and go, whatever happens, happens. So, a certain part of my life has never been easier than now. That normal, everyday aspect. Deep in my heart, I know that I would never have achieved this peace and simplicity if it weren’t for cancer.

The ramifications of my diagnosis are what’s hard though. These are, and, as I am sure, will always stay somewhere at the back of my mind. The key is to keep them back there, which I know isn’t easy. But I’m gonna try anyway. Fingers crossed! – Malgorzata Paskuda


Click here to read how cancer was a “gift” to this Rethinker.

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