Share Your Experience with Breast Cancer

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • I was speaking with a woman today who’s just begun chemo. She got her diagnosis in April, and after a series of unfortunate encounters with the medical system, she’s feeling pretty angry. One doctor didn’t read her X-ray before operating, and thus missed a major area of cancer. Another forgot to tell a colleague some key information about her diagnosis, which changed her treatment midstream. So she’s aggravated. Upset. Disappointed that her experience didn’t go smoothly. And at the same time, she’s kicking herself for “whining.” “I have to move on,” she said. “I have to get over it.”
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    Does that sound familiar? Even if your experience with treatment was smooth as a pond at daybreak, I’ll bet you found plenty to complain about, even if only internally. Maybe you’re a squeaky wheel, and everyone knew about your discomfort, from your friends and family to the scheduler at the chemo desk to the pharmacist filling your Compazine prescription. Maybe you’re a “put on a happy face” person who was snarling inside, while all the time you were telling everyone that radiation wasn’t nearly as bad as you thought it would be. However we handle it, cancer’s not easy. And we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be anything other than what we all are: human, with all of our natural frailties.

    Treatment is tough. It’s painful, nauseating, skin-burning, fatiguing. It’s unnerving to watch your hair fall out in clumps. It’s boring to stay away from crowds in an attempt to be “healthy” despite a low white cell count. And it’s just plain wretched trying to take a shower with four rubber tubes hanging out of you–drains that aren’t supposed to get wet. What’s a woman to do?!

    Complain! Let it all out. Say every nasty thing you’re feeling. “This really stinks. It’s awful. I hate this. What did I ever do to deserve all this? Why did I bother trying to live right? All that exercise, all that low-fat dieting, and look where it got me! How come SHE has DCIS, and I have stage III? Figures I’d have lymph nodes involved, what’s the chance of that? I’m so unlucky… Cancer is awful; I want my life back…”

    OK, you probably don’t want to burden your friends and family with that kind of rant. After all, they’re upset enough, walking on eggshells half the time because they don’t want top upset you (like you’re not upset already!) But really, this is YOUR pain; why inflict it on those you love, right? But then, how do you get rid of these feelings inside? How do you release them, so that they don’t gnaw at your soul and turn you heartsick and bitter?

    Write down your story. Say everything you want to say–in words. This Web site is the perfect place to do it. You can be 100% anonymous. You can whine, rave, complain, feel sorry for yourself, make endless accusations (no names, please!), and otherwise cleanse your soul of built-up negativity. How lucky we are to have this site, this anonymous soapbox from which to shout. Personally, I’ve chosen to put my name and face behind my words, and you can, too; but you don’t have to. Feeling shy? Choose a screen name. But whatever you do, USE this Web site to vent. To unload your heart of its pain. We’re an appreciative audience, and we’ll applaud your courage in telling your story. Every negative, complaining, self-pitying bit of it!

  • Remember this: your feelings are never “wrong.” They’re simply feelings. Allow yourself to have them; examine them; give them time to develop to their full potential; then gradually, let them go. Speaking them “out loud”–on this site–is a key way to do this. Come on, let yourself go–I dare you! Create a SharePost today.
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Published On: September 10, 2007