Saturday, May 17, 2014

Stereotyping Cancer Survivors. I'm not brave, strong or blessed for beating cancer. It's unfair to expect us to act like we're brave blessed or strong for beating cancer.

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Recently on Facebook, a few pages dedicated to cancer awareness asked patients to describe themselves and how they feel in one word. 


Here's an example. 



I liked how positive people's responses were. I like how these pages are getting groups of people in tough times together. I loved the word "Surthriver".

But there's one that stands out to me. The one with no likes. 

".. Invisible."

People always tell me I'm brave for being so happy and positive through my journey. They admire how I've adapted, and grown, through my experience, and I give off that impression of a "surthriver" on my posts, I'm sure.

But the ugly, not-too-well-known truth about cancer is it's not something that you have for a while that either kills you or spits you out to keep going. 

Cancer affects you long after its left your body... the physical fatigue, maintenance treatments and weariness is just the tip of the iceberg. The emotional drainage of facing your mortality, sometimes multiple times, the frustration of an all-too-slow recovery and the realisation that you may never be your old self again plagues many cancer patients long after their last treatment is over. Not to mention the medical bills...
But surviving cancer is still hailed as a victory. Something to be celebrated.

And cancer survivors, survivors of any tragedy for that matter, are hailed as heroes - symbols of strength - physical embodiments of those words badass, brave and blessed thrown about in that Facebook post above.

It's gotten to a point that survivors are expected to be act that way.... 

Well, that expectation is UNFAIR.

And it's leading to many survivors hiding their true feelings, not talking about it and not getting help. 
It's leading to many feeling ashamed or weak when they don't feel the same way.
And it's leading to people getting depressed when they realise that cancer affects you long after treatment stops...

Telling someone, or expecting them to feel glad that they survived cancer is like telling war veterans with PTSD that they should be glad they're alive...

It's not easy being grateful for the worst thing that's ever happened to you...


And the pressure we, as a society, put on these survivors to feel that way is not helping.

How we're expected to act and behave, despite how we feel
SUCKS.

And if you feel the same way .. or if you, or a loved one are wondering why you're not in that constant state of euphoria everyone talks about for beating cancer, believe me - 

YOU'RE NOT ALONE.

I come off as happy, positive, cheery even in the fact of adversity. As someone who's adapted well to this journey. Someone who's won their battle. 

I don't feel like I've won...

hate that I got cancer. I hated having to suffer through it. 

And to this day I still suffer because of it. I spend more time at the hospital getting treatment and waiting around for appointments than I do at university or hanging out with friends. I get aches, spasms and cramps every day for no apparent reason. I have skin peeling from my body, that itches incessantly and I can't do anything about it. I get tired for no reason, I fall in and out of depressive moods week by week and I've had to go from not being able to walk for all the tiredness to being able to live a normal life 8 times now. 

It's been 3 LONG years...
and I'm STILL not done with this! 

I don't feel like blessed... I don't feel brave... I don't feel proud...
I don't feel "glad to be alive"... not all the time.

More than anything... I Feel Tired.


I'm not alone here either. In fact, I'm representing the majority of survivors here. This reflection by another cancer patient on the untrue, frustrating stereotype that cancer survivors are expected to encapsulate, went viral and had huge support. 56% of cancer patients seek some form of psychological or medical emotional assistance in their treatment. Remember - not everyone is open, or can get access to that help. I'm sure everyone with cancer needs it, at some point in their treatment. 
Even those survivors, like me, who come off as mostly happy and positive don't feel that way all the time.

It seems absurd that I have to say this. But it's perfectly normal to feel bad after cancer... 

You don't have to put up a facade, or berate yourself for the expectations of others. 
And it's okay to feel down and pissed off every now and then. Everyone does. 

And you're not weak to admit that you're going through pain and suffering, physically and emotionally. In fact, it's pretty brave to admit that you are. 

But it shouldn't have to be that way. You shouldn't be ashamed that you're finding things hard. 

I'm writing this to let you know that you don't have to be brave, badass or blessed to beat cancer. You don't have to be those things to get through periods of depression or hardship or to accomplish anything in life for that matter... this part of my message applies to anyone.

How would I describe myself in 1 word? 
The way I'd handled all of this, how I've adapted and changed after cancer... I'd have to say that I was
 "smart." 

The words I took to heart most when I was diagnosed weren't those cliched "You're strong!" "You're brave!" or "You're a fighter!"...

And also the the words of a nurse who told me, the day after being diagnosed that the next few weeks would be filled with pain, nausea, diarrhea, fevers and tears.

I didn't go into my battle kidding myself. I knew it would be a long haul.

But I realised, when I took a step back and thought about it, that the fact that I knew and could acknowledge the pain that was coming meant that in the future, I wouldn't give up when that pain got real. That I'd be prepared for it. That I would look at what would come after hardship rather than linger on it.

Realising and accepting that I was human, that there were things I couldn't control, that it would take time to get better didn't bring me down into despair... In truth it left me only one way to go. Up.

It was what allowed me to take a step back and look at where I was, without any delusions of grandeur or expectations of miracles. And that allowed me to see where I was and what I what I should do going forward with a startling clear logic.

Accepting that there were hard times to come, acknowleding that I was scared and worried made me focus on how I could get past my issues. And taking a step back and realising that only I could make myself feel down (no-one comes into your head and programs emotions into you - only you can) made me see that I actually had a choice on how I viewed my life and my journey. From there... choosing to have an attitude and living life on the path that made me happiest and healthiest became the only smart thing to do...

Looking in the big picture, and focusing on what I could control rather than what I couldn't was what got me through this. NOT some inner strength or positivity or the blessing of others (though they were always appreciated). 

That's something ANYONE can do. It's not as hard as you think.

In fact - taking a step back and looking at where you are objectively, then acknowledging the hardships and doubts you have and planning your way around them will help you see a second, healthier and happier way of looking at life. And once you do that, choosing to view and live life on that path will be the easy, logical choice.

For me, during treatment, I didn't get bogged down by the pain that chemotherapy, radiation and all my other treatments would bring - I chose to see those things as what they really were - the things that would help me get better in the long run. 

When I started feeling self conscious about my fitness and how I looked, I realised that I was only hurting myself to please others and chose to live my life how I wanted to live it - not by how others told me I should. And that's made me the happiest, most self confident version of myself. 

When I get frustrated about how long it's taking to get back to normal, or at how I'm being held back by this cancer, I choose to see that I'll get there, in time, and how that this whole experience has taught me so much about myself and what I can do, that I'd go beyond that old normal.

These are things that ANYONE can do. 
And you can apply these to any goals you have in life. This isn't just gonna help cancer patients...

You're not WEAK if you think life is hard and painful sometimes. You're definitely not ALONE. 

In fact, You're NORMAL.

You don't have to be strong to get through strife. Strength, motivation and the blessings of others help...
But the best thing on your side in your battle is YOU. 


And I hope this can help you get you on your side.

For those who know others are going through hard times , whether they be cancer survivors or not I hope this lets you know that just because they seem to be coping with it well - doesn't mean they are. That simple question, "Are you okay" saves lives. 
Stopping that unfair expectation and breaking that stereotype of a survivor starts with YOU.

This was a reaction to this post - one of the most awesome reactions to a post of mine ever.

 


And this was a talk I gave on this issue not too long ago:



Another place where this post was shared and the reactions, the almost coming out of other survivors after reading this is amazing. You're not alone.

"Survivors are too often expected to put on a happy face because the cancer is "finished". But that expectation is...
Posted by I Had Cancer on Friday, 23 October 2015

As usual - if you ever wanna talk, about anything I'm here.

Or as usual - email me or comment as anonymous if you'd like to remain that way.

21 comments:

  1. Great post Nikhil :) This reminds me of an essay in the Journal of Clinical Oncology that I read a few years ago, "The burden of Survivorship". I can't find the actual thing but here is a link to an article talking about it: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/705595

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  2. That's a nice little essay and it's awesome of that doctor to continue following up on patients after their initial critical period - something I'm sure the patients appreciate - something I'm sure helps a lot of patients, or at the very least, opens them up to getting help.
    Unfortunately, not every doctor has the time to do this. Cancer clinics are full as it is with patients in the middle of treatment - the priority you should see your patient in becomes simple triage at that point.

    What I talk about here is a society wide burden put onto patients that is unfair and leading to a lot of us being stressed and worn out in trying to live up to those qualities we're expected to live by. I personally feel no need to have to succumb to that pressure of being/acting like a survivor - but I see many others who do. My story, and how I dealt with the whole diagnosis may be contributing to the problem. I get told all the time I'm brave or inspirational for doing what I did. I don't feel that way. And I outline how what I did wasn't brave - it was only logical at that point. Labeling that idea as "brave" or calling yourself "strong" and even that word "fighter" implies struggle and conflict to begin with. And I always try and veer away from this idea of being an inspiration beacause it makes it easy for other people to take my advice.
    And the most heartwarming thing I've read after this was the response of a guy I'd met only days ago thruogh Facebook about this issue --> This was what he posted after reading this post (and he's got the full support of his friends for doing it with over like 150 likes in less than 12 hours - who knows how many more).

    "Maybe I don't need to continue on with this facade that I am coping with all this as well as I pretend to be in front of others. Like sure I try to keep a big smile on my face and act like I am the same old happy, go lucky person I always was, even in times of adversity just so people don't start worrying more about me. So I am going to stop lying to everyone and admit that even though things may be looking up, I'm not happy. I'm still quite miserable at times. I am still scared. I don't want to be, but I am. Most importantly, I am not an 'inspiration' or 'admirable' or 'strong' or whatever.
    I should strive to be positive for me, and not for other people. I'm not being depressive here. On the contrary, I feel quite proud that I have come to this realisation and I guess that will help me be actually happy eventually. But I do feel quite silly thinking it was necessary to create this yolo facade."

    ^ That right there is what I love about what I can accomplish by writing. If only it could reach more people (and believe me - I am trying to get this message out there more - it's not easy to do that though, I probably don't know how to do it best, but when I do - hopefully it'll help others reduce that burden they have on themselves and help them to feel happy and positive not to please others but because they actually feel that way).

    I'll be doing a post soon about the best attitude to take into treatment, and the importance of having an internal locus of belief in self rather than basing it on other things - and there's actual evidence to back that idea that people who believe in themselves tend to survive cancer more. Subscribe/like on facebook if you haven't already and you'll see when it comes out.

    In the meantime though - help get my words out and get others to feel happy about themselves =P Share it around for me!

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  3. I feel so much better after reading this. Everyone around act like im back to normal after 1 year of being in remission. Im still in pain. I had apl leukimia. I spelled that wrong sorry...

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am 42, mother of 3 and a new grandmother. I was very recently diagnosed with stage 4 G.I. cancer. I've been through surgery to remove my ovaries. My uterus is attached to my bladder by a tumor. After the initial shock and cry I decided I HAD to be brave, happy and positive. If I have a weak moment, or cry or get angry I actually feel guilty! I am determined to beat this. But I am also scared beyond words. I don't feel like I can be truly open with friends and family about my fears. I feel a huge responsibility to them. To not scare them. To not let them think my fear is lack of determination to beat this.Thank you. Thank you for letting me know it is really okay to feel scared and angry sometimes.

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    1. Another patient I was talking to was exactly the same as you. He was putting on a facade for his friend and family too, and feeling ashamed and weak when he wasn't getting better. I really encourage you to do what he did - be open about it. To yourself and to others around you. It doesn't have to be to everyone, it can be just to a few close friends or family members. It could be me, if you want to talk about your fears or anything. The only people you should have to act strong for are your kids.
      And yes - it is perfectly fine to feel scared and angry. Determination and self belief is great to have behind you in your battle. It'll help you immensely! But an understanding or acknowledgement of the difficulties/hurdles that may come up in your journey will not weaken you or lead you into despair - instead it'll mean you won't break down when things get tough. And remember to smile when you can too.
      Have a read of my story to see how I personally dealt with it, by changing my attitude. It may give you some ideas on how to get through some tough times while still allowing yourself a few moments of "weakness", or, more accurately I believe, being human.
      http://nikhilthegrizzlybear.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/my-story-nd-how-it-can-help-you.html
      Good luck with everything! Wishing you all the best! Feel free to chat anytime. Best place to contact me is on my facebook page for this blog (It just means all your messages don't fall into a spam folder or anything if you message my regular facebook) or just keep commenting here.
      https://www.facebook.com/musingsofamedstudentpatient?fref=ts

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  5. I went into my doctors office crying, told him I feel as if i am failing at Cancer Patient 101. I read all of these stories of other patients, out walking a mile a day, working out, riding a bike and so on and I honestly have to summon all the energy I can to walk from my bed to my bathroom less than 10 feet away. It takes ALL the strength I have to stand back up and walk back to my bed. My legs barely can support my own weight. I asked him, "Seriously, just how in the hell are these people doing this?!" I can't breathe! My throat feels like I have become a fire breathing dragon. I cannot swallow ANYTHING and these people are jogging....REALLY?!?!?! I just had a mini nervous breakdown in his office!
    He said he could assure me they are NOT doing these activities during treatment. But many say that that they are!! It just makes me feel like a failure. Can't we just be REAL?? When did being real become a crime against humanity? I am miserable! I feel miserable and quite frankly I do NOT care who knows this fact!! I am scared and I feel more alone than I ever have at any time in my life!!

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    1. That's the most human, real response you can have to cancer! That expectation we have is NOT fair! Yeah there are some cancer patients who do manage to do all those crazy things... they're the ones that are put up on a pedestal. They're who we have to look up to and associate with.
      The reality is completely different. Cancer sucks. And treatment is NOT easy. You're completely normal for feeling that way, ESPECIALLY during treatment!
      And you're NOT a failure.
      I hope now you understand you're not alone in all of this. Because you aren't.
      It's fine to feel scared and miserable at times. But you don't need to feel that way all the time. And this was written to dispel not only the myth of the reality of cancer, but also the idea that you have to be strong or brave to be happy/positive in its face.
      Because you don't.
      I know I certainly wasn't.
      As you saw further down in the post, I coped and stayed happy by taking a step back and seeing things logically. I acknowledged the pain and struggle that I'd go through. But because I knew it was coming and because I was real, and didn't kid myself, I knew that when the hard times did come (and I know you're going through some now) during treatment, that I'd not fall into despair when they did. Instead I'd look to the future and the fact that I wouldn't be put through all this pain and struggle if my doctors didn't think it had a chance of helping me. That this was all for another shot at life after the hard parts were up. It didn't make the pain less, it didn't cure my nausea, but it did give me the chance to smile every now and then despite them and it gave me the power to stay happy despite it all.

      I'm not an inspiration in that regard. I am starting to do those things like walking and riding a bike and playing basketball now. But it took me a year of slow and steady progress to get there. And you can too. It won't happen now. It'll take time. And first you have to get through the treatment. I hope this helps you in that regard, and feel free to chat anytime! I'm here for you.
      Just keep commenting here, or message me on the facebook page of the blog (it's an easy way to keep in touch and makes sure I actually get your messages stored somewhere and not in some spam folder =P)
      https://www.facebook.com/musingsofamedstudentpatient?fref=ts

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  6. Czippay - I'm sorry you're feeling so bad. You have every right to not feel guilty about yoyr situation. It is so frustrating to see "the face of cancer" these lively 5K running, yoga pretzel, juicing stars that somehow look awesome too. I looked like a bloated little boy on chemo and felt like crap. We've got to stop letting people think cancer is all ribbons and fun awareness. It's ugly and painful. We need to stop shaming the survivors who are just trying to survive.

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    1. Definitely agree with you there. The true face of cancer, and how it affects you is much uglier than people make it out to be. We survivors shouldn't be ashamed of that.. but at the same time, we shouldn't let that label of a patient stop us from being as happy and healthy as possible, something I talked about in this post:
      http://nikhilthegrizzlybear.blogspot.com.au/2014/03/the-day-i-stopped-being-patient.html
      We do have a choice on how we view our life. Noone can come into your head and put feelings or thoughts in there for you. Once you realise that, ask yourself why do I feel sad, and eventually you'll see that the only logical thing to do is choose the path that's most helpful to you. The one that makes you happiest and healthiest.
      Something I struggled with post cancer was how it affected my looks too... I know you mentioned it a little bit in your comment, but this post was about how I managed to get over that self consciousness, and it may be of interest to you.
      Hoping you're well and healthy now =] Feel free to talk - I'm happy to!
      http://nikhilthegrizzlybear.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/normal-0-false-false-false-en-au-x-none.html

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  7. My son, 16 years old was diagnosed with ALL. He isn't very open. Don't get me wrong, we sit and laugh and joke. But when it comes to Cancer, I know it really annoys him when people want to be his friend all of a sudden, but I can imagine that everything you are saying is probably how he feels. As his mom, I have been told or asked so many times how am I so strong. I couldn't do it. I would fall apart. As if I don't feel so helpless and in pain watching the chemo destroy what I have protected for so long. I think people sometimes just don't know what to say but, its not really strength. Its getting by each and every second. Hoping he will have more good days than bad. Anyways, I just wanted to express myself a little and let you know that I will be following your BLOG and show it to my son too.

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    1. I believe it's just as hard for the parents of children going through cancer as it is for the patients themselves. I looked at things objectively and logically, and that was what led me to conclude that being as happy, positive and healthy is the best thing I could do for myself in my journey. But if it were happening to my kid, that feeling of helplessness, of just being forced to watch on would be hard to deal with.
      Yes, it's not about strength so much as getting by, second by second, day by day. But I also think you can also benefit from doing what I did, taking a step back and trying to see the best path forward, not only for your son, but also for you, every now and then too. Taking care/time for yourself every now and then, and talking frankly to others who you can trust about your feelings isn't selfish. The happier, healthier and more secure you are - the better you can help your son.

      I think this blog would be great for you and your son. There are already many posts he'd probably be able to relate to in some way. If you guys wanna talk by the way - I'm right here. I believe you already posted on my facebook page - good that you did - it's the easiest place for me to keep track of everyone =P Good luck and chat soon!

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  8. I agree. Its been 11 years and I am terrified to return to my home town. Because in my home town my illness is my identity. I'm greeted as the "miricle" child, or "I prayed for you" as though they were somehow responsible for my recovery. The truth is, cancer was a blip in the long life I plan to lead. It doesn't define me. And I refuse to feel guilty or blessed or special for a rogue pack of cells. You want to praise someone? Praise the doctors who spent hours researchi.g treatments. Praise the surgeons, the anesthesiologists who numbed the pain. Praise the nurses who put up with a steroided up 13 yr old with no hair and a heart of rage to unleash on whoever crossed her path. Praise my parents who stood by me in the worst of all possible times. Praise my life brother who never complained when he was all but forgotten. Praise the person who died and gave me his liver so that I might have a chance at life. Praise his family who in their darkest moment found the strength to look beyond their loss. Cancer takes so much from so many who never get recognized. Dont praise me. I had it easy.

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    1. Beautifully written. I feel exactly the same about those who helped me - especially my bro who was also sometimes ignored while I went through treatment.
      http://nikhilthegrizzlybear.blogspot.com.au/2013/12/to-most-amazing-people-i-know-thanks.html
      Holding us up to a pedestal isn't helping us... first of all it's harming many others. Secondly, it's making others believe that what we did, what we'd been through requires strength or blessings or miracles, which stops others from trying to do the same things we did - whether we have cancer or not. This was written not only to reveal the truth of surviving cancer but also so that other people going through their own problems, whether they be cancer or not, could see that they CAN get through their hardships, and they CAN accomplish whatever they wanted in life.

      I know it sucks to be made out to be that "miracle child"... but don't let that phase you, or stop you from doing what you want to do. Let those others back in your hometown feel their little moment of happiness. You have the choice on how you view things. Why be frustrated or scared of them? Educate them to the reality that is cancer survival, tell them exactly what you said so eloquently here or just smile, ignore them and enjoy being back where you grew up, if that's what you wish. You can't change everyone, but you can change yourself. Remember also that some of them really did wish you well. But still - don't be afraid to do what you want to do.

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  9. I agree and feel much better after reading this, thank you One word really stood out to me and how i feel : TIRED. I feel tired. need lots of sleep. the people who live around me are so respectful of that. I know that when people say i look so great they are doing so out of kindness - but i wish they would stop - I have look at myself for 58 years now and know how i look and it is not great! I look tired / worn out. My brothers see it and do give me support and help however they can. I know they are scared - our parents died of cancer. They are older then me, two of them 18 and 16 years. When i had a heart operation to replace a valve and do a triple by-pass in 2007, two of them said i had to do as the doctor said because they did what to have to bury me.Now the starke-truth - they may not have a choice. If this last treatment of chemo does not stop it - i have little chance of making it a year. i will admit i do not look that sick. you would not see it if you seen me on the street or in a store. You would seen someone with a cane - with fingers showing signs of arthritis. But no signs of stupid cancer. But i feel tired - i really do not feel greatfull that i was and am still fighting this but I am greatfull that I do not have to see my loved brothers go through it - I know how they feel about the bury part. being so much older then me i have thought about that over the years as we aged. Praying that none of us would get it as our parents did. Just a few years ago we lost a cousin to cancer. In the 70's just before my mother died in 79' her brother also died of cancer in 77". So many in my family. And it has been a very aggressive type of cancer.
    I feel so bad when i see a child coming to see a the cancer doctor or getting tests. And honest at that point I do feel greatful that I did have 57 years without stupid cancer. My mother lived with it for about 20 years. It returned when she was 57 and she lived a painful 3 more years, in 1979.She passed away on my step-daughter birthday. A little girl of two years old that she loved so much. stupid cancer has taken so much from so many. Someone said to me that they do have a cure, but there is so much money from all different sources that would be effected that it is hidden. I pray this is not the case - and I can not believe it is - especially for all those children.
    But i do thank you for what you wrote. And the chance here to rattle on with my story. At times it is so mixed up - I find myself confused about what is really going on. It seems like a bad dream i will wake up from, but that does not last long because the pain will start or i will need to go empty this bag hook up to my side.Someone even asked me if the pain of it all was worth it - well damn right it was and is. every sun rise i get to see - follow by the sunset - every flower, butterfly, dragonfly, lighting bugs - every bird i get to hear sing or an owl calling out at night, -and i still need to hear a whipper-wills song again as i did jogging at night back in the early 70', every child i see smile, or get cranky in a store because they need a
    nap - or the voice of my family on phone when they call to check up on me, I have met some grand people from doctors, nurses, secretaries, others battling caner. I have found who were true friends or fiends, and have had people step to assist me that i never expected too. Some i never had met, just see on the street. I ask one why and his wife and him said that have always notice that i treat everyone the same - with kindness. ( not believe that is the overall case in my life), Some people have help me with food and rides or gas but wish not be to know that they are doing so, so i have kept that promise. Without all these grand people i really do not know if i would desire to find that strength to keep up the battle. Just can't give up when so many care and are pulling for me. Lots of living to do to share with all the good thing in life.

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    1. That's perfectly alright - don't worry - you're not rattling on.
      There are times when cancer really gets to you - but I can see that you really appreciate life and that keeps you wanting to live more and more.
      I hate the fact that cancer affects so many people like you and me. I get tired too... but I have times where I'm less tired and able to do things normally. Those are the time I live for. That and the chance to make other people happier, to see them smile, whether it be by my writing here or later on by being a doctor or just being kind to anyone and everyone, as you do. Putting a smile on someone else's face is the best way of getting happiness. Unlike money, fame, power and the like, that can never leave you, and it can never seem hollow. Keep that up. And when you do feel down - have a read of my other posts. I'm sure you'd relate to a few of them, or see another way of thinking through them. This was my first post - about how I (and how others can benefit from) stayed happy, positive and always looking towards the future, through rough times.

      http://nikhilthegrizzlybear.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/my-story-nd-how-it-can-help-you.html


      I wish you all the best with your treatment. I'm not a doctor yet, but I am a medical student, so any questions or issues, whether it be medical in nature or whether you want some support/words to help you out in hard times or just someone to talk to - feel free to call.

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  10. This post is amazing...so honest and awesome. I was just thinking about how someone needed to start writing about the anxiety, the hurt, and all the other negative feelings that are often hidden away. Seriously, this was so great.
    - Mallory

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    1. I agreed - that was something that wasn't written about enough. The impression everyone gets about cancer survivors is that untrue stereotype of a fighter, an inspiration.
      Cancer sucks. I wanted people to know that when I wrote this post. But at the same time, for those going through hardships of any nature (not just cancer), I wanted them to see that they could still be happy despite that fact, and that they didn't need to be strong or brave either. That if they took a step back and asked why of their doubts, they could see that despite the pain and suffering they were going through. That the best thing they could do for themselves is to view and live life on the pat that made them as healthy and happy as possible. I hope that came through as well.

      Btw - if you ever wanna talk... about anything really, I'm happy to =]

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  11. I had surgery and treatment for stage 3 thyroid cancer in 2012. It offends me that people say 'well at least YOU beat cancer'. Like I should feel bad because I have not lost my battle with cancer. Yes, as of now, they find no more thyroid cancer. That says nothing about how I feel daily without my thyroid. And if you honestly think that the treatments we receive don't harm other parta of the body, you are crazy. Cancer is cancer. It all sucks. One is not worse or better than the other. We learn to ignore certain comments as we are also learning about this new life. We try to get up every day and do healthy things. Cancer sucks. That's all.

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    1. I agree. Cancer sucks. I wanted people to know that when I wrote this post. But at the same time, for those going through hardships of any nature (not just cancer), I wanted them to see that they could still be happy despite that fact, and that they didn't need to be strong or brave either. That if they took a step back and asked why of their doubts, they could see that despite the pain and suffering they were going through. That the best thing they could do for themselves is to view and live life on the pat that made them as healthy and happy as possible. I hope that came through as well.

      How are you doing now? If you ever wanna talk, about anything really, I'm always here.
      http://nikhilthegrizzlybear.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/my-story-nd-how-it-can-help-you.html

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  12. My daughter was 15 when she was dx with ALL. It was hell...we are lucky we all survived her steroid pulses...let alone the rest of it. Not only is there pressure on the survivor but also the parents...I have yet to feel joy again.

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    1. Hey M, another parent posted something very similar a fwew comments above, and I'll copy past what I wrote to her down here. It was hard going through cancer for me. But I belive my parents had it tougher. To see someone you love go through that pain while standing by, almost helpless is something I'd wish on no-one. The copy paste is below, but I believe what I told him should help you out too.

      "I believe it's just as hard for the parents of children going through cancer as it is for the patients themselves. I looked at things objectively and logically, and that was what led me to conclude that being as happy, positive and healthy is the best thing I could do for myself in my journey. But if it were happening to my kid, that feeling of helplessness, of just being forced to watch on would be hard to deal with.
      Yes, getting through these things is not about strength so much as getting by, second by second, day by day. But I also think you can also benefit from doing what I did, taking a step back and trying to see the best path forward, not only for your daughter, but also for you, every now and then too. Taking care/time for yourself every now and then, and talking frankly to others who you can trust about your feelings isn't selfish. The happier, healthier and more secure you are - the better you can help your daughter."

      There are some moments when you can feel that joy - some small bright moments in the middle of the pain and worry and stress. Those times - linger over them. A few posts I've writetn about humour and hospital - I definitely think you should have a read of them. I know they can't do too much to ease your worry and pain - but I hope they make you smile, and make you see that those moments of happiness in the midst of all the suffering are the ones you should linger on.

      http://nikhilthegrizzlybear.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/humour-in-hospital-1-mary-johnson.html

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What are your thoughts? Any similar experiences? Want to talk about something?