These Are My Emotions As a Pregnant Cancer Survivor
Getting pregnant as a cancer survivor may bring some back to days when they were fighting cancer, with the change in hormone levels, mood, and experiencing of cells growing in your body. Read more below.
I've passed the "maybe she just ate a burrito?" stage of pregnancy. My belly is round and the pain in my hips forces my gait into a slow-and-steady-almost-waddle.
The cancer centre I go to is divided into different clinics. The clinics each have their own waiting room full of patients in varying states of health. It's difficult to not feel observed when walking through the clinics. The waiting rooms are full of silver-haired patients and patients who were bald long before cancer took hold. Young adult cancer is not rare but it's rare enough to warrant curious glances. I don't begrudge the looky-loos. Whenever I see someone in my age bracket I turn into a looky-look myself.
Now that I’ve finished treatment for Thyroid Cancer, I feel out of place in a cancer centre. I’m not here because I’m sick - I’m here because I’m pregnant. Feeling defensive is not productive or particularly healthy but it's the protective cloak I wrap around myself to survive the (slow) walk through the clinic.
I got pregnant 14 months after I finished treatment. Being pregnant after cancer messes with your mind. I have spent the past few years willing things not to grow in my body. My blood has been tested and my hormones levels have been watched religiously. And then I got pregnant and the things I wanted most in the world were for something foreign to grow in my body and my hormone levels to change.
It's been challenging to be a pregnant cancer survivor. Emotionally, I've had to work hard to not give in to the anxiety of hoping that a fetus grows but my cancer doesn't return. There are also feelings of guilt; during my cancer treatment I connected with other young adult fighters and some of them were not lucky enough to maintain their fertility.
This pregnancy has been a roller coaster ride. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to be pregnant after cancer. I feel frustrated and disheartened that pregnancy after cancer has been so hard on my body that I, along with my family and my medical team, have decided this will be my last pregnancy. I feel like I've been given a gift and had something stolen from me at the same time. I don’t take this gift lightly. But I'd be lying if I said it was easy. It feels like a drawn out science experiment where you wait months for results.
Patience is not something that comes easily for me. I like plans and decisive action. "Watch and wait" is torturous. But I will wait and I will breathe through the anxiety and uncertainty-- and this coming spring this broken body of mine will deliver a baby. I've never felt so lucky.
Did you have or know anyone who had a similar experience with pregnancy and survivorship? Share in the comments below!