Raging Against Myself
I’ve had many issues arise that are beyond my control but have caused full blown panic attacks. I seem to need more and more time alone in pure silence to calm my breathing and my thoughts. Then I thought about how I’m like that 90’s band name “Raging Against the Machine.” Only, I realized that I seem to be raging against myself.
Going through cancer while single has literally thrown me off the ledge. Let the rage fest begin.
I rage over constantly fighting my body to function properly.
- I can no longer just get up and go anymore. It takes me so long to get ready in the morning because of the chemo induced fibromyalgia and neuropathy. I never thought I would have to deal with this level of chronic pain. There is no real relief from it.
I rage that my life continues to be difficult without breaks. The hits never seem to cease.
- Just when I think the pieces on my path are finally aligning, I get hit with another problem or infection that pushes me three steps backwards instead of letting me take one step forward.
I rage over the never-ending medical bills post-cancer.
- Why aren’t there more financial resources for post treatment? I found so many grants to help during my active treatment. These are lifelong struggles which require many doctors’ appointments, tests and medications. The financial strain on a single income is suffocating.
I rage over always being single with zero strength to even ponder dating again.
- I honestly don’t think I can ever date again. I have zero-sex drive and I’m in menopause! I don’t even want to be touched because it hurts so bad, thanks to the fibromyalgia. Plus, how can I date someone in the regular world ever again? It was hard enough pre-cancer to find a good fit at the right time. I can’t even have regular conversations because somehow, it always reverts to cancer.
I rage that any PTO from work has never been used to take a vacation and have fun. Instead, those days are used for doctor appointments, surgeries or sick days.
- How ironic that I finally had to request a leave of absence from work because my body literally gave up on me. I’ve been hit with an infection and chronic pain every single month since October 2018. No wonder I basically kneeled over and couldn’t go on. Will my immune system ever be semi-decent?
I rage over our healthcare system and having to fight the billing departments from multiple cancer centers and question or review charges.
- The visceral stress from opening the mailbox and seeing a billing statement and/or invoice wears on me daily. Plus, I already pay such a high deductible. I don’t have the strength to work multiple jobs and gain multiple streams of income by myself. It takes everything in me to go to work for 8-10 hours a day.
I rage over the hundreds of times I’ve had to advocate for myself to be heard with doctors.
- I’ve been treated at multiple cancer centers and have seen multiple oncologists and specialists until I was finally heard. I’m sick of everyone saying, “That doesn’t typically happen to cancer patients” or “I don’t think this pain is from your treatments.” When are these providers going to learn that everybody is different? When will they realize they don’t fully understand the long-term side effects that stem from chemo and radiation?
I rage over those inside and outside “cancerland” who try to “fix” my chronic pain with essential oils, supplements and more unsolicited advice.
- I’m disgusted by those who give unsolicited advice and think they have the cure to end my chronic pain or whatever else is going on. It’s like these people think I haven’t already tried many of the things they claim “cured” them. Why can’t I just talk about it? Why do I have to justify to non-medical people why I don’t want their unsolicited advice?
I rage over the family life I never knew I wanted and now can never have thanks to my cancer treatments and being medically induced into menopause years ahead of schedule.
- When your choices are essentially taken away, the grief of wondering what could have been is palpable. It’s so hurtful when people tell me to foster or adopt. It’s like they completely ignore all of my strains, from being alone to being financially pressed! I can barely take care of myself and my cat, let alone be there for a child. Show some sensitivity! Hear my pain instead of trying to make me feel better.
I rage over physically looking like a completely different woman with these chemo curls. They aren’t natural to me.
- I truly struggle over “this hair.” Sure, I know it looks cute like a baby giraffe, but it is NOT my natural hair! I didn’t grow up with naturally curly hair. Chemo did this, not nature. I didn’t ask for this. The PTSD I feel every single time I look in the mirror tightens my chest and causes tears. My thick eyebrows pre-cancer now must be filled in with a brow pencil. No one else sees all the damages cancer brought to me, and I don’t care. But, I am the one who must live with them.
I rage that the treatments, surgeries and pressure to work full-time have visibly aged my face and body by at least five years.
- It took over two years for the dark circles to fade. I’m in a constant state of fatigue. It shows in my face. My former baby face went through an un-welcomed state of war. I regularly see the wear and tear cancer has caused me.
I rage that I no longer know why I’m fighting so hard to stay in this world with no physical legacy.
- I feel survivors’ guilt so deeply after hearing someone is diagnosed as stage IV and have a husband and children. As being single, what do I have to live for if not family? Why should I keep fighting to exist in pain when there is no hope of having any children or grandchildren? Who do I share our memories with? What is my purpose?
Finally, I rage that after all these years on earth, I’ve become what I always feared – alone and ordinary.
- How do I stop having survivors’ envy? I see so many survivors running marathons, jumping out of planes, traveling and other really physical activities when I can barely walk the two-mile trail in the park. Why didn’t my body heal and become stronger? If anything, I feel that I get physically weaker each day. How is that surviving and thriving?
Though I often feel alone with my rage, I know there must be others who suffer through this in silence.
- I wish I had the right coping skills to help all of us get through the daily insanity. That’s the hardest part.
- I want to take action but don’t know how.
- I find it difficult to talk with a therapist who hasn’t been through cancer. They seem to want to make me feel better instead of giving me tools to cope with these unwanted and permanent changes.
I rage because at the end of the day, I just want to matter and be remembered.
Image courtesy of the author.