Friday, August 19, 2011
WANTED -- Patience and Understanding...AND Not to Feel Alone.
As I resumed my crying, I told him I was simply worn out, I felt "crummy" and could not pull myself together. (I visualized myself in a boxing ring finishing up a really good match... I have won the fight... I turn around smelling victory...and while raising my fists in celebration, I am blind-sided with a late one-two punch... I know... it makes no sense.) Dr. Koffman continued to comfort me by thoughtfully explaining I was very normal to feel what I am feeling. It takes time. I was not only feeling exhausted but also feeling meek and emotionally fragile, a very frustrating feeling and I was obviously NOT enjoying this knocked down "state of being".
This "chapter" of my journey also reminded me when my father passed. I remember feeling a deep sense of relief that Dad's pain was "done" and he could be at peace. I didn't really feel sadness....I just felt so glad and relieved the suffering was behind him and "it" was finally over.....that was how I felt at the end of my radiation treatments. Then later, whatever IT is... "IT hits". Three months after Dad died, I was suddenly feeling the grief....and for some reason now, I'm feeling similar. I don't get it but I also think life is never quite the same after going through these trials in life.
As I continued my appointment with Dr. Koffman, we discussed my plans, as I was to see my Oncologist for the first time the very next day. I thought my personal decisions regarding my cancer treatments were basically complete, but I have found myself in the last "leg" of decision making regarding medication for the prevention of a cancer recurrence. Things are never as "cut and dry" as you think. Every decision made has it's advantages and disadvantages. Ugh. I feel too tired to think.
After a really good consultation in Oncology with Dr. Burt, both she and Dr. Koffman referred me to their cancer counselor. I continued my melt down with the counselor. I felt knocked down when I should be feeling happy with my medical care, successful cancer treatments, and my excellent prognosis. As I displayed myself in distress, I was hearing the same message from the doctors, oncology nurse, then the counselor...what I am experiencing is so very normal. "I have seen this with hundreds of breast cancer patients" said Naomi Glynn, the cancer counselor for Midwest Cancer Care/Menorah Hospital. Many of these women, she claimed, with early detection breast cancer, and having successful surgery and treatments with great prognosis.....expect to be feeling good and celebrating victory.....but over and over patients feeling exhausted, run down, and "knocked over"... just like me. Hearing that I'm not alone, I found this news to be of some comfort to me. It's not that I wish for anyone to feel this way, but the pure fact that I just might still be on the radar screen as "normal" was sort of good for my mind to know.
The longer I venture this journey, the more I am impressed with the support and help from many in the medical field, including Cancer Centers offering different types of therapy such as massage, touch healing, yoga, nutrition classes, counseling... not to mention my wonderful medical team, and the list goes on. I believe in using all the resources it takes to make life better. As the counselor told me, "Treat yourself the same as you would treat a loved one going through any kind of medical challenge.....and give yourself time." OK, then... I am going to try this....as I continue to "face forward". I realize not only do family and friends need to be patient and understanding, a cancer survivor needs to do the same for herself. I also think it may be a matter of understanding what not to understand. With help, the awareness to get help, and the resources available today, life before, during, and after cancer treatments can be made more tolerable. And I must say to the very kind Dr. Koffman, after the conclusion of my melt down in his office... Thank You. Thanks for your patience and understanding, the advice to see the counselor, and the much needed hug. Sometimes just a small gesture can make such a difference to keep one foot in front of the other. That's a good thing.