I had my first 3 month follow up appointment at the cancer center today. And everything went well! I will go back in another 3 months. Most of my symptoms from chemo are gone now and I feel great. I have quit wearing the scarves to work as I now have a full head of hair. It is dark and straight and goes everywhere due to my cowlick(s) :) But I am happy it's finally growing back and so quickly! People tell me all the time that every time they see me it is a little longer.
So as I was driving to the doctor, I started having some serious anxiety. I'm not sure if it was just the thought of having to go back there or being worried that they would find something. But for whatever reason, I about had a breakdown. Those who know me know that I do not have a very anxious personality so this is pretty unusual for me. But lately, I have been having episodes where I get very panicked about everything. It seems to have gotten worse now that I am done with treatments. What if it comes back? I do NOT want to go through that again. Am I really supposed to wait until I have symptoms from another tumor to know that its back? My doctor says that scans are not really necessary at this point unless there is a reason for one. I almost asked for one anyways just for my peace of mind but I trust my physicians and their judgement. She says I am doing great and I really do feel great!
So back to the anxiety. It's like a quiet that DOESN'T come after the storm. My treatment is over, and my life finally is back to normal. It may be a new normal, but I'm glad to be alive. I look fine, and I feel good, physically. Everyone else is relieved that the worst is behind me. So why am I feeling so scared now? I have been researching this and have come across a lot of web pages and blogs where people in similar situations describe going through the same thing. Nearly everyone who has been treated for breast cancer has doubts about whether the disease might come back. And everybody has a different opinion on how to cope with it, most of them suggesting joining some sort of support group or something. But not everyone, myself included, is comfortable talking to random people about their problems. We all cope with anxieties in our own way and there is no easy answer. So I am going to share with you how I cope and how I deal with the anxiety :)
It can all be summed up in one word. FAITH. I have faith in God's plan for me and I trust in Him. In fact, this belief gets me through most struggles in my life, not just the ones involving breast cancer. Now, as a disclaimer, I am not trying to push my beliefs on anyone. (In fact, it is a daily struggle, even for me, to hold steadfast in my faith and remember that my life here on Earth is not my own) I am simply telling you how I cope with my struggles and you can take from it what you like :) But I can't imagine going through something so life altering and not having a solid foundation to lean on. For me, that's God. Whenever I start getting anxious or uncertain about my future or the cancer, I remind myself that God loves me and He has a plan for my life. And I pray. I pray for peace of mind, continued healing, and that I continue to stay strong in my faith. I'm not saying it's easy. But this is what brings me comfort. I mentioned driving to the doctor earlier and getting very worried. So I turned the radio to my local Christian rock radio station. And the song playing was talking about knowing that God is with you through whatever struggles you may be facing. It was like He was speaking to me personally in that exact moment, and reminding me of His presence.
People say that you should have a least one person in your life whom you can confide in and talk to. And I agree. It's not healthy to shut yourself off and bottle everything up. But sometimes, just talking in general can help. Even if there is not a physical person standing right beside you to whom you're talking. I talk to God. And I talk to you all :) In the beginning, I did sort of retreat into myself. Not because was depressed, just because it was hard for me to find the words when talking to people. So I started blogging. And my friends have all told me that they really feel like it has become a good outlet for me to express myself. For me, it's easier to write than to talk.
So what am I trying to say with all of this? You are never alone in your struggles. There is ALWAYS someone who loves you and is willing to listen. You just have to have faith in that. And remember, whether you believe in God or not, that He loves you and he is always willing to listen, no matter where you stand in your faith. Remember, just as talking about your diagnosis and treatment may have helped you through the early days, talking about your fears relating to recurrence may help you later on. Find whoever or whatever it is that gives you strength and cling to it.