If you would like to hear a Podcast Interview with Myself about my battle and Spirit Jump
Life Beyond Treatment
By Kairol Rosenthal
I was diagnosed with cancer at 27. After treatment, I ditched my hospital gown and hit the road. Traveling from the Big Apple to the Bible Belt, I recorded one-on-one conversations with 25 young adult cancer survivors who confessed to me experiences they had never told anyone else.
I was surprised by how many patients said that the hardest part of their cancer experience was life after treatment. Here’s a snippet of my conversation with Geoff Luttrell, a twenty-something survivor interviewed in my book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.
“When you have cancer and you wake up every morning, man, you know what’s happening: chemo, scans, IVs, the whole protocol. Everything else just falls away. There’s no confusion. Life was perfectly clear on chemo. A lot of people recovering from cancer talk about trying to live life like there’s no tomorrow, but you have to work, you have to go grocery shopping, you can’t just walk around 24/7 thinking, I have to make the best of it because I could die in the next five minutes. It’s not realistic.”
Like Geoff, I wanted to be realistic about how to deal with the directionless fray my life had become after treatment. Through my own trial and error, and while talking to other patients for my book Everything Changes, I learned some lessons that made the transition back into daily life just it a bit easier.
After treatment, be kind to yourself. Take it slowly. You don’t have to dive back into life where you left off. In fact you can’t, because life has moved ahead since you were last in it. Step slowly into your life, taking time to learn about what you want from other people and from yourself.
The entire world will want to know how you’re doing. Create a standard yet honest reply – an elevator line, that will educate them about what you are facing, such as, “I’m glad that treatment is over, but it’s pretty common to feel fatigue for a while, so I’m still recovering.”
When I traveled to Alabama, I met Tracy, a 37-year-old breast cancer patient who said, “Some people think that after an experience like cancer, if you are not smiling and doing cartwheels every day, then you’re just sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. I am grateful to be alive, but I have good days and bad days just like I did before cancer. I also believe you can’t help yourself if you deny that you have suffered.”
She’s right. Life after treatment is hard. Maybe you’re dealing with medical bills, adjusting to a missing a body part, or making sense of your work, love, or family life. Perhaps fear, anger, or sadness about your diagnosis or recurrence are smacking you in the face. Don’t pretend that everything is fine if it is not. Being real about how you feel helps relieve tension. Don’t worry - you won’t get stuck here forever. I’m living proof of this.
If you have gone through treatment, what was life like afterwards? What was the biggest challenge you faced and how did you deal with it? Are you surprised that so many people said life after treatment was the hardest part of cancer?
For candid stories, practical tips, and expert advice on 20 and 30-something cancer, check out my book Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s. Visit my blog.
Im sorry I haven't written for a while but I have been so busy and life has been great lately! As many of you know I started a non-profit organization with my good friend Stacy. Spirit Jump has been such a positive part of my life and I want to share it with you.
I started Spirit Jump in November 2008 when I was trying to think of ways to help others who are battling cancer. Donating money was not an option for me but I could connect people who want to give with those who are in need of support. This is how Spirit Jump was born!
Spirit Jump connects the gift giver with men, women and children who are facing cancer and other debilitating diseases. When you join Spirit Jump all you're asked to do is send a card or small gift when and if you can. Its that simple. With a tight economy many people are not able to give as much to charity as they use to but when you are part of Spirit Jump you don't need to send money to help. In fact a simple home made card is priceless when received by a person who is battling such a dreadful disease.
For those of you who have kids Spirit Jump is a great way to involve them in charity. When children who are facing cancer receive a card from another child that can make their day and lift their spirits.
If you are not a jumper and would like to join or learn more please email me at email@example.com If you know someone who could use a Spirit Jump email us and we will give you all the information on how we can help.
We are also on Twitter @spiritjump
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/inbox/readmessage.php?t=1069667546422&f=1&e=-12#/group.php?gid=197520490523
We are planning a big raffle as a way to raise money for Spirit Jump so that we can keep up with our rapid growth. In order to have the raffle we need some donations. Quilts, jewelry, gift certificates etc...would be greatly appreciated for our raffle. All donations are Tax Deductible AND we if you have a shop it will be showcased on our website, twitter and Facebook.
Email us if you can help firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by Meaghan on Monday, June 01, 2009