Things You May Fondly Remember After Cancer Treatment

Since I am now 14 months out from active treatment, it has absolutely shocked me that some days I actually miss certain things about cancer treatment.  You don’t miss it like you want it to happen again, you miss it in “oh gee, that wasn’t so bad”.  For example, during chemo when someone would cut me off in traffic or was driving crazy, I would flip off my wig and expose my bald head instead of being tempted to make finger gestures!  The looks I got were PRICELESS!!

If you are in the middle of active treatment, believe it or not, no matter how awful, grueling and horrible it all is, you may miss and or fondly remember some of the things you are now experiencing!   Here are some thoughts from some gals that I’ve known from the beginning of their treatments.  They have become friends to me and I value their comments!  I know you will too!  Some of them will make you laugh!

From Katie B -. I kinda miss the “chemo spa” experience. My girlfriends would take me. I had one friend that would bring me lunch on China with linen napkins and we would watch “Sex and the City”. The nurses were always bringing me nice warm blankets. I got to know Candace, who was getting chemo too. I wouldn’t recommend chemo for fun, but looking back it wasn’t so bad, in fact a lot of pretty cool things came out of it. I still go every 3 weeks for my Herceptin infusions but I go to the little “chemo spa” where people get the fast infusions. It’s not as fun.

The “nuclear plant”  (radiation) people are very nice but you’re in and out so you don’t have as much time to form any good relationships. My first day of getting nuked was a little disconcerting because I walked in with a pretty pink robe on and there were two young, kinda cute guys, waiting for me to disrobe so they could nuke me. I laughed and said I felt like I was getting ready to make a porn movie.

From Michelle – I was so focused on how difficult chemo was that I never thought ahead. I never worried about the cancer coming back or even the risks associated with having cancer. I was just immersed in my own personal nightmare… focused only on getting through it. After I finished my treatments and began to feel better, thoughts of the cancer coming back began to occupy my mind.  I don’t dwell on those thoughts often but I do think about it. I miss feeling safe. I miss being able to live my life without worrying about health issues. I also miss the comfort in knowing that the chemo and the radiation were killing all the cancer cells. I would visualize the chemo running through my body eating all the cancer cells like Pacman… just chomping away.

From Kelly – I think during my many, many weak moments, I miss being able to hibernate.  Especially right now while I have so much responsibility being piled on me.  Nobody expected anything from me during treatment because everybody has heard the chemo horror stories.  When chemo was done, everyone expected me to be back to normal, both physically and mentally, and it just hasn’t happened.  I’m tired to the bone right now, both physically and mentally, but I can’t hibernate to recuperate.  I don’t miss “having” to hibernate and vegetate, but I miss having the “right” to do it.

From Jeanie –  I’ve thought and thought about it, and have come to the conclusion that there is really nothing I miss about cancer treatment.  It was so difficult and disruptive and damaging.  Yes, I had extremely kind nurses and techs and brilliant oncologists and surgeons, but I am very happy to be away from all of them.  I am still struggling with the aftermath of treatment:  low energy, neuropathy in my feet, bad hair, chemo-brain, dry eyes, scars, fear of recurrence…oh yes, every twinge and ache gives me pause.  My fingernails and toenails have grown back to almost normal.

My way of dealing with the whole ordeal is to move completely past it, and I have resumed my former life as much as I can. . .Every morning when I wake up, I look outside at the trees and consciously appreciate how grateful I am to be in the land of NED today.  How grateful I am for my many blessings:  love, safety, warmth, food, friends, access to life-saving medical care and so much more.  And the cancer card has become a permanent part of me.  My energy is getting better but is still not anywhere near what it was, and people are now used to me opting out.  And, surprisingly, I am happy to do so.  I love being at home.

And from Melissa who always makes me laugh — I miss the nurses and the patients I used to BS with in the waiting area. I miss the big, fat buck-toothed fish I watched while waiting for labs. I miss sleeping from IV Benadryl.

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9 thoughts on “Things You May Fondly Remember After Cancer Treatment

    • I have really been feeling lonely. Like others have said I don’t want to go out. I would love to surround myself with other young survivors cant find any and the 1 I knew returned to life and doesn’t want to think about cancer. My husband tries but doesn’t understand bless his heart he is Mr fix it so when the chemo/surgery “fixed” me he thinks everything should be as it was. I really miss my couch not letting silly stuff bother me. I thought like the one woman who appreciates life everyday I thought I would. I’m angry at 33 mortality was questioned and right now I just I made it to the otherside but now what? Still have the insecurities like before and now I get to watch my friends have babies while I am in chemopause 7 months after completion of chemo. Sorry to rant sat is my 1 yr since first chemo. Any advice? I hate looking at others having them realize how lucky and blessed they are to have never experienced this. People say we are strong…I don’t feel stronger.

      • As well as having cancer myself I now work as a cancer counsellor I I see many clients when they finish treatment… Talking to someone who understands really does help them … Maybe this would help you .. In Australia we get referrals from the cancer council… Maybe you have something like this… Often after treatment can be the hardest time when you expect to feel “normal” and you don’t … And everyone else expects you to be ok!! Be kind to yourself

  1. I am two months past chemo and still dealing with neuropathy of my hands and feet. I was left with a small permanent ulcer in my mouth. Still hoping it goes away or I will need biopsy . Can chemo really cause a cancer of the mouth ? My hair is coming in. I miss talking to the chemo nurses and other patients. I have remained friends with one and we compare notes weekly. It is comforting during and after chemo when someone else knows exactly what you are going through. Because many don’t have a clue though they want to let on like they do .

  2. Denise,

    Reading some of these are like I wrote them myself. I kindly suggest that eveyone join a support group if you have not already done so. I love mine, we have a great group of men and women in various stages of treatment, some complete and some not. I find our 20+ year survivors most inspiring, along with a 90 year old woman recently diagnosed who has choosen not to receive any treatment. Instead, she spends her time playing golf twice a week and enjoys having her nightly Martini or Bloody Mary, vodka of course.

    Now a little venting –

    What I find very irritating lately is how they (you know, the professionals) say I am no longer going through active chemo, and that instead, I am receiving what they call “targeted therapies”. Targeted because treatment does not destroy my good cells, and instead only targets my cancer cells. They say most patients do fine, are able to work, their hair comes back, their strength comes back and they are no longer nauseated.

    Well first let me say ” I still call it chemo.” I still go to the same center, have my port accessed and sit for 2 1/2 – 3 hours while two different drugs drip into my body. I am receiving Herceptin & Pertuzumab/placebo, (it is believed I am getting the pertuzumab) both of which are supposed to be well tolerated, though not generally together. Maybe this is the difference. So indeed, my hair is growing back, I am less fatigued and less nauseaed, but I still get weak, can’t do anywhere what I used to and always seem to have that uneasy feeling in my stomach and continue to lose weight. So tell me again, that I am not receiving active chemo. I say BS!

    In addition, my MUGA heart rate has dropped from 71 to 57, and I ask here -“If my heart refraction rated has dropped, does it mean my heart is not working as well? Maybe this can account for my fatigue.

    My last vent is I am tired of hearing that “you look good.” I know their intentions are good, but I don’t feel good and I see changes in myself that tell me things have changed everywhere. Isn’t there something we can teach our well intending family and friends to say?

    Surviving,

    Mary

    ________________________________

  3. This might be cheating, but I fondly remember that feeling after chemo ended. My husband and I went to Portugal for a break, and it was the first time we felt ourselves. I remember the sunshine, the coast, the cheese, the exploration. That experience stands out. I know it wasn’t during treatment, but it was because of treatment. ~Catherine

    • Ahh, it sounds wonderful and probably was so much more wonderful
      because of everything you had been through! Thanks for describing
      it so well. I’ve always wanted to go to Portugal. Thanks, Denise

  4. Denise, your post was right on. I loved everyone’s comments. I certainly don’t miss getting the chemo treatments, but I’m kind of glad I’m still going every 3 weeks for my Herceptin treatment. First, I feel like I’m still “safe” as I’m getting some kind of treatment. Second, I love the nurses who have taken care of me for the last year. We laugh, share pictures, tell stories…we’ve become good friends. I will be glad to be done at the end of December, but I will always treasure these women!! I feel good physically and have joined a support group of other women. It is very helpful to have someone to talk to just so you know you’re not alone with your fears.

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