Cancer is a lonely disease. Even though I was surrounded with friends and family everywhere the feeling of being alone was very real. I’ve read other people describe having this same feeling when going through this illness. I felt scared and alone. This is something only another cancer patient can understand. It may be the fear of death and maybe it’s simply the feeling of being the only one at that moment of illness knowing the pain and not knowing one’s own fate.
I lost most of my memory while I was sick but the feeling of lonliness never eludes me. I live with chronic pain. This means from day to day I never know how I am going to feel. I have eliminated most of my stress and my pain level has gone from a nine most days to a four most days. On the days I experience more pain (usually weather or stress related) the more isolate I feel. I have discovered a way to cope with these feelings.
Thank God I am a believer and follower of Jesus Christ because that is the one thing that keeps that feeling from overcoming me. Most days I am upbeat and thankful to be alive. I praise God for the gift of life. This is the first and most important way of coping with the solitary feelings that linger after cancer. I listen to praise music, meditate on God’s word, and give Him praise for being alive. There is something to be cherished in a life that is appreciated.
Painting is my second love next to God. A hobby is the best way to deal with those days of inadequacy. If you don’t have a hobby find something you enjoy doing. It is most important in keeping stress levels down.
Friends are another great way to keep these solitary feelings at bay. Surround yourself with a good support group and network of family and friends. It is proven people live longer who have more friends. Enjoy and laugh with your friends. Laughter lowers stress and boosts the immune system. I have found it helps lessen my pain level, feelings of being alone, and beat depression to hang out with a positive friend once a week. Laughter is a key element! Make sure your friend is upbeat and positive. Negativity will bring you down. There is nothing worse than leaving a friend and feeling worse than when you came to see her.
Even though cancer is a lonely disease there are a few ways to fight these desolate feelings. Turn it around and live. You deserve to live. Live and enjoy the life you have been given.
I recently found my care pages online from when I was sick. I wanted to share some of the unexpected things that I wish someone would have told me to look for when I was sick. I will share more later but for now I will share the worst part of the whole cancer experience. Don’t think it is all bad though. I remained positive throughout the cancer experience and leaned on my faith and that is the reason I am still here. I stay positive today and this is how I will stay healthy (well along with a good diet and regular exercise.)
The worst part was the unexpected; the things the doctors didn’t tell me about. The least expected of the whole head and neck cancer experience was the deterioration of my throat. I remember what the doctors called secretions coming from my throat. Secretions are what I call flesh, blood, and deterioration of the tissues in the throat that came out in long strands. Sometimes after minutes of pulling these disgusting strands from my throat I would vomit and pull more strands. This happened weeks into my radiation treatments and continued for months after treatments were over. Radiation burned my throat from the inside out. I still have scaring on the outside of my throat. Just a warning for those about to endure radiation; it burns the radiated area inside and out. It’s like putting meat in the microwave. It burns. However, keep in mind there are things in life we have to endure. If you want to live endure the treatments with a smile and it will be over soon! Hang in there. It is worth it to have a second chance at life.
There were other unexpected things that happened as well. Flu like symptoms and the constant pain that were side effects of the chemo treatments were something I didn’t fully expect. Vomiting and nausea yes, but every part of my body ached. I went from feelings of extreme cold to hot flashes. There wasn’t a time when I felt comfortable. I was hot and cold at the same time. It was summer and I couldn’t go outside because it was too hot. I couldn’t handle the air conditioner on too cold because I got cold and achy. My caretakers and family couldn’t handle the heat so we kept the air on and I kept myself bundled in a blanket with my feet sticking out. This seemed to work for me. Remember, endure with a smile. Think about things that make you happy and things you are going to do when you feel better. Look to the positive and fight fight fight! You can do it! I’ll write more later.
I love the warm weather. Its difficult for those with chronic pain to adjust to a rapid weather change. It was freezing temps earlier this week and today its in the high thirties and low forties. When anyone suffers chronic pain it makes it difficult to live a normal life. Yesterday, though I hurt I thought about how nice it would be to have a regular job I could go to every day and how much people take it for granted having the ability to go to work. Today, as the pain is more severe the reality sets in why I do not have a job like the average person. Because I am not the average person. I do have blessings in this. When the blessings seem hard to find its best to look to all the positives and ponder all the possibilities. Upbeat music, good coffee, sunlight, and happy thoughts all lesson chronic pain. When I wake with pain I cannot stay in bed. I would think it would help to lay in bed and sleep in if I don’t feel well but my pain is worsened when I lay in bed. So I get out of bed. I shower and dress myself in a way that makes me smile and feel good about how I look. Even if I feel like the utmost worst, looking nice can bring a smile to a gloomy day. I love to write so I head to Starbucks and blog. Some days when the pain is less I make things. Crafting definitely takes one’s mind off pain. For today, I sit in Starbucks and soak up the aromas of all the different coffees, listen to soothing music and type my pain away. Chronic pain is here to stay. It never leaves me. Some days it is a 4 out of 10 and other days (like today) it is an 8 or 9 out of 10. And on those days I press into God and into whatever takes my mind to a better place. Even though I would rather be biking, hiking, running, socializing or working a daily job I will smile and do something that makes my day a sunny day. I could sit and be gloomy and mope for my gloomy day but I do not. I would rather shine and let anyone who understands chronic pain know there is hope. For I am created for something so much more than just me. I am created for the purpose of loving others and showing others love. I am created by God to show His glory in all things, even pain. If my job is surviving pain, then I will survive and let Him shine through me as though it is my full time job that I love. Today, I worship God in my toughest moments and thank Him for these moments. It is these moments that remind me how blessed I am to have the really good time! If this inspires just one person my pain has not been in vein but worth it for today. Be blessed.
- Reduce stress. Stress makes chronic pain worse.
- Play soft music (I use praise music.)
- Meditate (I meditate on God.)
- Guided imagery (I think of my favorite place, the beach.)
- Guided Muscle Relaxation
2. Take care of your body. (Exercise & Diet)
- Exercise naturally boosts your body’s endorphins which reduces pain and depression.
- Exercsie increases blood flow increasing your ability to use prescribed medications, and a healthy heart.
- Exercsie makes your muscles and bones stronger.
- A healthy diet increases your body’s ability to fight cancer and other illnesses
- A healthy diet fights depression (Depression and chronic pain interplay.)
- Try juicing! Juice a colorful variety of fruits and veggies! Juicing naturally extracts natures vitamins and minerals helping fight illness, chronic pain, and makes the body feel better.
- Eating healthy and exercise boosts the immune system making you feel and look better.
- Always ask your dr. before beginning any new diet or exercise routine.
3. Friends, Family & Laughter
- Having friends, family, or a support group increases your lifeline! True! Those with a good network of friends and family are proven to live longer.
- Laughing with friends and family increases longevity!
- Increases the way you feel about life, your situation, and your response to pain.
- Love makes us feel complete and lessons depression and anxiety (which intensifies pain.)
- If you don’t have family close, or a group of friends find a support group online or through your dr. Search for a church or join a fun group of people with like interests (ie: fishing, hunting, running, hiking, bowling, knitting, etc..)
4. Find a hobby, job you enjoy, and donate your time.
- A hobby or a job you enjoy takes the focus of you, and off the pain.
- A job you enjoy will increase your happiness, and refocus your pain.
- Enjoy the job you have. You don’t have to look for a new job. Change your outlook on life and your job. Do it to your best ability God has given you and smile.
5. Find a way to donate your time.
- Help in your community through a homeless shelter, local hospital or church. This will increase your sense of purpose. Life will have more meaning and takes the focus off you. Life is about so much more than just us and our pain. I understand this first hand.