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What Would My Life Be Like Without Cancer?

March 21st, 2015 |

by writersam | Survivor: Colorectal (Bowel) Cancer    Connect

As a 27-year-old colon cancer survivor, Sam often spends time wondering what her like would be like if she never had cancer and developed Lynch syndrome.

It's been five years since I had my bowel removed due to colon cancer, and I'm still dealing with the emotional effects of it. I suppose I've had a long time to come to terms with the fact that it even happened to begin with, but I'm also trying to deal with the fact that I have Lynch syndrome, a hereditary condition which increases the risk of getting certain types of cancer. So not only has it been difficult to come to terms with what happened when I was 22, but it has also been difficult to come to terms with the possibility that it will happen again.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about what my life would be like without cancer...

I wouldn't be paranoid about every lump or bump that may feel a tiny bit different. I wouldn't have annual screenings, acting as a constant reminder that each year that my life may change again, in an instant, if the cancer comes back. My life wouldn't be filled with triggers – things that remind of being in the hospital, surgery, the whole thing in general. I wouldn't have terrifying flashbacks.

I wouldn't feel pressured to be so aware of and responsible for my body. Lynch syndrome causes me to half-expect cancer to happen again – but that means if it does happen and I don't notice it early enough, it will be my fault because I should have seen it coming. At the same time, it feels like it could easily happen again without me knowing because I have no control over it — it's in my genetics. If my life had no cancer, I wouldn't struggle with the pressure of having no control whatsoever, but at the same time feeling completely responsible.

But then I think about how if I never had cancer, my life wouldn't be filled with the gratitude I feel for the very simple things - just for having my partner with me and for both of us being healthy. But to mention the sense of urgency I feel more than ever to DO things. "One day" isn't good enough anymore. If I don't make solid plans to do things, they are just pie-in-the-sky dreams. If I leave it too late to travel to the places I want to see and do the things I want to do, it might be too late. And if I didn't have cancer, I wouldn't be so vigilant with my body and wouldn't have learned how to listen to myself so well.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that anything about getting cancer was good, but I guess I could say I'm proud of the outlook on life that it brought me. Now, more than ever, I'm determined to live...and do anything I want to do. I just need to focus on the positive side of things rather than all the negative things. It's not easy. But I'm trying, and that takes a lot of energy. I have a lot of respect for everyone else who is trying, too.

What are the positive side effects of cancer that you are grateful for? Let us know in the comments below.

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writersam's picture
Sam Rose is a 29 year old colon cancer survivor, diagnosed with Lynch syndrome. She lives in England with her partner and in her spare time she enjoys writing and listening to music. You can find her on IHC under the username writersam, and at her website writersam.co.uk.