This is a post I have put off for a some time, mainly because I don’t like others knowing I am struggling, I am a little prideful. And, I don’t want to come off as seeking pity or like I am the only one dealing with such feelings, I know I have been blessed and have much to be grateful for, and I recognize this daily, But I have many people contact me regularly, requesting info about this topic. A big reason for even writing this is to help others who may be feeling these same feelings, thinking they are alone in this, also, maybe in some way, it’s therapeutic. I can’t say what other cancer survivors feel or if they go through what I do on a regular basis but I know many people struggle with anxiety, depression etc. As a brain cancer survivor, I battle each of those periodically, it’s a regular battle. Many veterans and veterans spouses I have spoken with regarding PTSD, have mentioned anger, depression, withdrawing from others etc. As a brain cancer survivor, I experience many of those symptoms regularly, no matter how hard I try to get past them, it’s a constant battle, especially being quick to anger and feeling down, not wanting to be around others etc… I enjoy my time alone. If I had not written this post, there are many who would never know the battle within, I hide it very well, however my family, unfortunately, feels the brunt of it at times. I have been asked many times, “what is the hardest part of cancer?” Well, there are a few but for me, the hardest is the mental aspect. The beginning, which I call the survival phase, is the easiest, if there is such a thing. You are in such a haze of bewilderment, it is so surreal and the crazy thing is, I felt really good physically so the thought of cancer was unimaginable but, in the beginning, I was so focused on winning the war, it didn’t have much time to set in. That being said, as time goes by and once things settle in, that’s when the mind-games begin. The fear of dying, and in my case, leaving behind a young family…I had just turned 33 when I was diagnosed, with a pregnant wife due in two weeks following my first brain surgery, and 3 other children, the oldest being five. Many people don’t know the night before my first brain surgery I sat down and wrote letters to each of my children not knowing if they would be without a father, and leaving my wife to care for our four young children, that was the hardest thing I have ever done, but for me, it was my driving force….my family saved my life!
The physical side of this was not too bad, other than some nerve damage to my left hand and left foot, and short term memory loss, everything worked out pretty well. Because of this, I never thought much about the mental issues that would come later, like I mentioned earlier, I was so focused on crushing cancer, I would push negative thoughts aside. I once heard, shortly after my treatments, a guy on the radio saying how he had never had a bad day since surviving cancer, my thought was, “you liar!” Maybe I am just a weaker individual. I think the hardest feeling, if I were to say one thing, it would be not being able to do things like I used to, strengths I once had are now weaknesses, and at times feeling worthless because of it. Feeling as if you can’t do anything well. Although the thoughts and fears of dying have diminished considerably, the other thoughts roll on. But no matter how difficult the battle, I never give up trying to find ways to combat these feelings. I have found, outside of nutrition, listening to positive messages, one of my favorites is Joel Osteen, training for triathlons and spartan races, and helping others recently diagnosed with cancer, has been a great help. But, there a days where I am angry and and down and sometimes I just want to feel that way for a day or two, it’s almost as if its a cleansing of sorts before I’m back to myself, I don’t know if that makes any sense but it seems to work for now. But if there is anything I can say to anyone dealing with these thoughts and struggling as I do, DON’T GIVE UP!
Anyway, below is a video, #Like a broken vessel, my wife recently sent me, which really is what drove me to actually sit down and write this post, I hope any of you who may be dealing with these feelings will find some comfort as I have. You don’t have to be of any religious affiliation, it’s a good message for all…check it out!