This Infernal Racket | my life, after cancer

A Toronto-based lifestyle blog by a 2x cancer survivor

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Moving Forward 5 Years After A Cancer Diagnosis

I feel like I am stuck between two worlds. It's been almost 5 years since I was first diagnosed with cancer. 5 years of good and bad. 5 years of changes. 5 years of learning how to live again.

I wonder or sometimes feel that I am moving away from my cancer....but is that even possible? Does moving forward mean growing apart from this disease? Can I ever leave cancer behind? Part of my life still feels like the cancer patient, with appointments and side effects, but the other part, the part that beats steady, is yearning to move forward and reclaim something new.

And so, I find myself at another crossroads.

This year I turned 26. I have been 'cancer-free' for 3 years. I feel that I am very much into my survivorship, focusing on my personal growth, healing emotionally and physically, and learning how to not overextend myself by saying no (to things I would have always said yes to, or holding myself too accountable for every action and reaction). I am building a sustainable and mindful routine and making time for moments either with myself or others. I am trying to understand how to survive and thrive at the same time. Since my cancer diagnosis, I have had so many positive changes in my life that have helped me grow as a human. However, post-traumatic growth is not the same as resilience. Resilience is about people returning to their previous level of function after some event in their life. Post-traumatic growth refers to positive personal changes in someone's life. I don't really think I have reached my previous level of function, but do I want even want to be who I was previously?

If I look at my life I can say that my relationships with others have improved, my experiences in life have been very fulfilling and I appreciate every little thing so much more. My personal strength has really developed and so has my physical strength. I started anxiety medication and I can honestly say that it has helped clear the clouds out of my mind, giving me a chance to feel whole and human. For me, those small steps have all been attributed to my ability to move forward. Each morning I wake up, and instead of thinking about cancer, I am thinking about my day, what I might do, and who I plan to see. I am thinking about my own happiness.

So....can I actually let go of my cancer? Can I be just Kayla again? Something so huge in my life for so long is now shrinking. The aftermath of cancer is very much present but the "I had cancer" statement is not really at the forefront of my mind anymore. I didn't think a life without cancer could exist for me...but maybe it can.

And so again, I am at this crossroads of feeling happy but not fully feeling fulfilled. I don't think cancer will ever be fully out of my life. It lurks in the corners of my mind and I am reminded of this disease almost daily in some small way or another. How can I survive and thrive as I continue on with my life after cancer? What does moving forward really mean? Is there a Moving Forward Checklist I can refer to I honestly don't have an answer, I don't know what to do and there are no words of wisdom other than this is a process. Healing takes time, there is no set speed and not every answer is everyone's answer.

If you have any tips for moving forward, please share them below for everyone to read.


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