After I completed my chemo, surgery, and radiation treatments following my original diagnosis, my life became more normal. I had continued to work part-time during my treatment, but now went back to full-time. My hair grew back. John and I even got Disneyland passes. Life was good and the thought of cancer possibly returning was many years down the road, though I did have regular scans every few months.
It was about two years later that a new tumor was found in my lung and this news really threw our family for a loop. Cancer had again reared it's ugly head and suddenly seemed much more serious. It was no longer "just breast cancer." We were all having a hard time dealing with this new reality and found ourselves short-tempered and fighting with each other. We were each driving away the people we loved and needed most.
One morning as we were driving to my chemo appointment, John and I talked about the fact that we needed to see about getting help. We resolved to ask my doctor if she could recommend a support group or something like that. We weren't handling this struggle well and knew we couldn't go on this way or we would be headed for disaster. Together we prayed that God would send help.
The chemo treatment rooms at my oncologist's office consists of three large adjoining rooms with approximately 20 patient recliners and a central nurses' station. We arrived and I settled into a recliner while John took a chair nearby. In the recliner next to me was a younger woman and her husband was with her also. We started chatting and discovered many similarities in our diagnoses, treatments, our faith in Christ, and our life situations. By the end of our treatments that day we had become good friends and it was apparent that God had placed Kim and Nelson next to us that day as an answer to our prayers just moments earlier! And, Kim turned out to be a Marriage & Family Therapist!
After that day, the four of us spent many Friday mornings chatting away at the "chemo lounge!" We also became acquainted with other couples there who were going through similar struggles. It helped so much to share patient to patient as well as caregiver to caregiver (spouses need support too!). It felt strange to say, but most days we came home and told about "having a good time at chemo today!"
We got some great advice from Kim which helped us through some tough times. Hopefully, I was able to share some helpful wisdom with her also, as one who had already been through treatments once before. I highly recommend striking up a conversation with the patient in the chair next to you, or somehow connecting with other patients.
I have also connected with other cancer warriors through a few different online support sites. We share a common bond that can't be fully understood unless you've walked the path yourself! I've found it can be a great place to find some situational advice as well as discussions on how to deal with side effects, etc.
Help is out there! You are not alone!