Throughout my journey, I’ve often asked myself that question.
Is there something wrong with me?
Aside from the obvious, of course. I knew I had cancer, but I often wondered if my emotions were off or something.
I didn’t read too much about my disease. I’ve mentioned that before. Mostly because I’m well aware that not everything you read online is true. I’d rather hear it from the medical professionals who know me, my body, and my disease.
But occasionally I’d see blog posts by others with cancer or cancer survivors that pop up on my Facebook wall. If it was a topic that interested me, I’d read it. Sometimes it was a cartoon or a meme. Sometimes I’d read the comments on the post, too.
This is where I’d always sort of question my sanity.
People post and comment a lot about the emotions they felt and feel. There’s a lot of depression and anxiety, anger and sadness. I get all that, I do. As a psych student, I completely understand why someone with a cancer diagnosis would feel all of those things.
I was pretty pissed off when I was diagnosed. I had plans, and cancer really screwed those plans up. I fell behind in school, I couldn’t work as much, had to break commitments. The side effects of chemo were annoying and uncomfortable. It downright pissed me off. I get the anger.
Depression, anxiety, and sadness? I understand those emotions, but I didn’t feel them. Yeah, I was probably sad for a minute when I was given the diagnosis – it’s not exactly a happy time, but I didn’t break down. Not once.
So, that begs the question: is there something wrong with me?
I’ve thought about this a lot because I read where people feel anxiety even after they’re cancer free because they’re constantly worrying about the return of their cancer. I’ve read where people feel depressed because of the hair loss, mastectomy, feeling sick, etc. People often ask how I’m doing, and I always answer “great!” (unless I’m in the sick week of chemo, in which case they’ll get a laundry list of complaints) because it’s true, I have been great! So naturally I’ve wondered why I haven’t felt those things. I’ve even dug deep down inside me to see if maybe I was feeling those things but was in denial about it. But I really haven’t. I haven’t felt much negativity at all during this process.
Well, I have a few ideas.
I tried to keep my schedule and routine as close to what it was as I possibly could. I continued to go to work and go to school as long as I could and as often as I could. I think that helped keep things normal and kept me feeling normal.
I had the mindset that everything I was going through was temporary. Chemo, all it’s side effects, hair loss, hot flashes, surgeries, adjustments to my schedule/routine…none of it was going to last forever.
I have a great support system. My husband is constantly feeding me compliments, which he also did before all this started so I know he’s not just giving me fluff. My parents and sisters and in-laws have all been great. Friends, teammates, and classmates, too. I haven’t wanted or needed for anything.
I have an awesome medical team. From the very first appointment, Dr JB has been the picture of optimism. She hasn’t given me the opportunity to feel sad or unsure. She’s positive and confident, and leaves no room for me to feel wishy washy. And Dr YB is similar. He’s very confident and direct, says “this is what we’re going to do and it’s going to work.” He told me in my first appointment with him to let him do the worrying, I should just focus on healing and getting better.
So I did. I let him do the worrying. I stayed positive and went with the flow. I did what the doctors told me to do, showed up when I was supposed to. I didn’t let myself get all caught up in the doom and gloom, and when people would say something negative or have a negative tone, I’d change the subject or flat out ignore it. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
So yeah…I guess those things have helped me remain positive and, dare I say it, “normal.” Maybe there’s nothing wrong with me after all? Maybe I’m processing everything just as I should be. I like the sound of that.