I am one of those people who has a song for every occasion and also typically relates music to everyday life. When I'm in certain moods I play certain songs on repeat nonstop. Music can make a good day even better, and can get me through a bad one. I've just always loved music and really feel like the lyrics of a song can really connect to me or my situation. That being said, I have had the lyrics of the song "Not Today" by Imagine Dragons on my mind. (Now I know this song is not about cancer at all, but it still feels appropriate)
"It's gotta get easier, oh easier somehow
Cause I'm falling, I'm falling
Oh easier and easier somehow
Oh I'm calling, I'm calling
And it isn't over unless it is over
I don't wanna wait for that
It's gotta get easier and easier somehow
But not today
I feel sometimes like "Life After Cancer" will never get easier. I don't know how to get to that point where I feel like I'm ok, and where I don't get nervous before/during/after scans and oncology appointments. It feels like in an instant, everything can change…AGAIN.
I feel like cancer was some kind of cruel joke the first time, like "Oh, you started to think you were doing good, really rocking this whole “adulting” thing? Joke's on you!" I am trying to move on and trying to rebuild my life and start really living again, but I'm so afraid someone is going to come and rip the rug right under my feet.
My doctors, my friends, my family; they’ve all told me to move on because I am "cured" now. They say there is no reason for me to be scared anymore. I don’t think it is ever that easy to just “move on” and feel like you are going to be ok. I was told that I had “a good cancer”, that I was highly treatable, that I was lucky because my cancer was caught so much sooner than normal. I was told “this cancer will just be a tiny blip on your life, but you can move past it.”
And yet I am still afraid. Constantly afraid. A few months ago, I found three really large lymph nodes in my groin and underarm area. I was convinced that it was back. The terror that I experienced while waiting for my doctor’s office to open the next day was indescribable.
Then, a few weeks ago, one of my friends commented during a yoga class about my bruising (I have never been a bruiser, but post-cancer I am). I had like 30-40 bruises on my legs and arms. And I don’t even know what I did to get them. When I realized how significant the bruising was, I immediately called my doctor. I am sure my doctor hates me, because I really panic at the all these “signs” that the cancer is back, and I regularly ask her to run blood work just in case.
I don't know if the fear ever goes away. I've talked to some ex-cancer patients that say they don't worry at all, that they are past the cancer. Then I've talked to some who said they still get nervous before scans. So maybe it's different for everyone and everyone deals with it in different ways. I am trying to do better. I'm trying to sit with the anxiety and uncertainty and just be ok, but I'm not there yet. And that's ok, too. Honestly, I'm not sure I ever will be completely ok with it. But I am trying, and that is a start.
“It's gotta get easier and easier somehow
But not today
In her own words, Caitlin is a "cancer surviving badass (not at all, but it makes me sound cooler than I am, so we can pretend)." She is a crazy dog mom, Diet Coke addict, travel aficionado. She is a miracle worker (aka social worker) by day and an introvert by night trying to navigate the craziness of life post-cancer, and feels she is "Sometimes succeeding, sometimes not".