10 Things I Hate About Cancer

Sometimes I hate cancer. I’ve sought a faith attitude during my 10+ year thyroid cancer journey. But part of faith is honesty. If I only shared the victorious moments it would be fake and depress others during their trials, especially those suffering from chronic illness.

I recently had my annual round of testing, with blood work, neck ultrasound, and Dexa Scan. The artificial thyroid hormone is taking its toll. My doctor said she was happy with my blood results “since you have cancer.” WAIT! Last year I was told I didn’t have cancer. This year I do? It’s hard to determine my status since the tumors are there, but don’t give off thyroid antibodies and aren’t growing. (Surgery in 2006 and 2009 to remove tumors, surgery and RAI not an option when cancer returned in 2009.)

Levoxyl is depleting the calcium from my bones. The newest diagnosis? Osteopenia and my choice between three different medications with more horrible side-effects, like liver damage and bone cancer. It’s another faith challenge in my journey. Today I will honestly share some of the trials of having cancer.

 

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10. The Needles and the Wait

I hate needles. Always have, always will. I’ll never get used to them. The “this is just a little poke”  can be followed by a painful bruise if done incorrectly. During a four-vial blood draw at the hospital before surgery the technician held the needle at a painful 90 degree angle, a memory that still makes me squirm. It also increased my trepidation for blood draws.

But, the true agony is that the needle is retrieving an answer from your body. Whether the wait is hours, days, or weeks for the doctor to say  “yes” you have cancer or “no” you don’t, it’s agonizing. People with thyroid cancer also have to seriously watch calcium and D levels, so testing is done several times a year.

 

9. Cancer Words

Survivor

Fighter

Brave

Victim

I had cancer and I’m still alive, but survivor doesn’t fit. It wasn’t a contest I won or a status I deserve, but the grace of God. But, there isn’t a good synonym and the antonym is worse, so it’s used.

We don’t face cancer because we’re brave, but because we want to live.

Who wants to be a victim? Cancer didn’t choose me, the Lord allowed it.

I like the words Mommy, Gwamma, writer, Christian, and friend.

 

8. Secret Sin Doctrine

The Bible is called a Sword and in the hands of the ignorant it damages instead of defends. To be trembling in the midst of the Refiner’s Fire and have Job’s friends accuse you of harboring a secret sin that deserves your cancer is indescribable. I learned to reject the accusation and accept their misguided concern.

When first approached by concerned Christians who felt the severity of my illness justified their boldness, I was shocked. Then hurt. Then annoyed. I remember wondering why they thought I deserved cancer and they didn’t.  I knew they were wrong, but wanted to understand the verse.

One day I wept to the Lord and begged for the answer. “WHAT?  Is my sin so secret that I don’t even know about it?”

He answered, “Yes.” Secret sin isn’t intentional harbored sin that deserves punishment, but subtle unintentional sin that is brought to light when drawn fully into the presence of the Lord through suffering.

 

7. Lack of Faith Doctrine

TweetWeak faith could be a result from cancer, but cancer is not a result from weak faith.

Usually, I choose fellowship over argument with Christians who have different beliefs. When my cancer rears its ugly head, I graciously avoid those who believe cancer is a billboard displaying my lack of faith. I’ve heard often, “Have you prayed?”, “God doesn’t want you to have cancer!”, and “Don’t you believe God can heal you?”

Once I was cornered in a bathroom by a woman I barely knew who was convinced her desire to heal my cancer was greater than my own. She laid hands on me and prayed loudly and with faith. She was convinced my cancer walked out the door with her. I was thankful for her prayers and her obvious concern, but felt guilty for weeks when I wasn’t cured. I tremble for these dear believers and pray they never get cancer, it would devastate their faith. To renew my faith I read about Paul’s thorn and Christ’s crucifixion, and remind myself that if I suffer with Him I will be glorified with Him.

 

6. Premature Aging

Show me a woman who looks older than her husband and I’ll show you a woman who probably has chronic health challenges.  You don’t just surrender your health, but your figure, skin, teeth, eye sight, hair, digestion, and sleep.

I went to Clinique for new makeup to cover some of the tell-tale signs. The consultant listened, looked at my face and said, “Oh, you’re going through cancer.”  Her sympathetic understanding and her kindness brought tears to my eyes. She didn’t deny she saw the effects and lie, “Oh you look wonderful!”  She heard my concerns and helped me find products that helped.

 

5. Doctors and Appointments

Do you think your schedule is busy now? Add doctor appointments.  And because cancer also affect eyes and teeth, add ophthalmologist and dentist visits.  Maybe a dermatologist. Chiropractor. Nutritionist. Naturopath. Specialists. Phlebotomist. If you’re a mom with kids, you either drag the kids along or find a babysitter. You drive, find parking, then find your car again in the concrete jungle parking garage. Cancer selfishly takes a lot of time.

 

4. Waiting Rooms

Reading old magazines with recipes containing ingredients I’ve never heard of. Drinking water that bubbles from a big plastic bottle into a flimsy paper cup not because we’re not thirsty, but we’re passing time. The hard chairs. The carpeting that’s either too bland or too brightly-patterned to be a diversion. The starving artist paintings on the walls.

The people. The people waiting for needles and scans and medications and cuttings hoping to fight the enemy invaders. Especially the people sitting alone. They sit with the old magazine and the cup of water and pretend they’re not lonely.

 

3. The Conversations

What’s the right way to call up your Mom and tell her you have cancer?  Your siblings? Your children? The weight of their heartache adds to the pain of your diagnosis and prognosis. Their reaction is strong because they have to  face their own mortality and their inability to help if they live far away. I watched my children accept that their chances of cancer were now greatly increased. It’s been hard, but I’ve been blessed to hear the love and concern poured out from my family.

 

2. The Answers

Other than being accused of sin or lack of faith, the worst answer is when people don’t say anything. They stare.  I want to raise my voice and say, “I just told you I have cancer, don’t you care? My life will never be the same!” But, I never did.The first time someone said, “I’m so sorry” I burst into tears and thanked her. She’d lost a teenage daughter the summer before and knew the pain of silence. I remind myself to answer when someone confides their troubles to me.

If people do talk, they relate their own experience with their uncle’s cancer or their next-door-neighbor’s cancer. The worst stories are when the people died from their cancer. Not quite the news you want to hear when facing your own cancer. But, it’s a way people process their own shock and pain. Read their concern between the stories.

 

1. Survivor’s Guilt

My cancer friends have died. I haven’t. I don’t want to die, but I didn’t want them to die, either. My cancer treatment wasn’t as invasive as chemo or radiation and I’ve survived three rounds. I daily live with the side-effects and the knowledge that cancer is stalking me, but I’m alive. And I’ve outlived women that were younger than me.

I didn’t survive because I was brave or a better fighter. It’s part of the Lord’s plan and I choose to trust Him. But, guilt haunts and taunts.

 

Kari ~ a high school friend who died at 36 years old from brain cancer. I blogged through our story, “I Almost Killed Her Once”, “The Lord’s Plan Unfolds”, “The Beginning of the End”, “The Dreaded and Inevitable End”, and “Kari’s Smile Lives On.”

 

Rebecca ~ who blogged at A Cracked Pot. My husband and I worked with Rebecca at Box T Bible and Saddle Camp for a few summers.  “This is What Keeps Me Going”, I Am Weary”, Not Where I Thought I’d Be.”

 

RivkA ~ a friend I met through cancer blogging. She blogged at Coffee and Chemo. Some of her best posts  “Death Be Not Proud”, “No Droopy Eyes, Please”, and “Living is the Name of the Game.”

 

Two days after I received my test results, a dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s waiting on insurance to schedule testing, but is facing chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.

Yep, some days I hate cancer.

 

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13 Responses to 10 Things I Hate About Cancer

  1. Jan Cine February 9, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    The beauty of it all is that you don’t let it dominate your life. You still serve, love, laugh, support, and thrive. We all appreciate that about you! So many people are dealing with chronic pain, debilitating illnesses, and mental issues, etc.. You are an encouragement to all because you chose to let the light of Christ shine through your disease. Thank you!

    • Mindy Peltier February 9, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

      Thank you so much for your loving encouragement, Jan. I know you have your own personal health struggles and suffer in different ways. I’m thankful for friends like you on the journey. I don’t always have to pretend I’m OK and tell it like it is. Thanks for being there.

  2. Tandis February 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Up for a virtual hug??? ((((((hug)))))) I can’t imagine how hard it must be. Love you, dear friend and sister.

    • Mindy Peltier February 9, 2015 at 1:44 pm #

      Always up for a hug! Thanks, Tandis. Absorbing the news and making a plan. I know you love to run, but exercise seems like punishment to me. 🙂 Miss you and precious family much.

  3. Vanessa February 9, 2015 at 1:56 pm #

    I hate this post. But I agree with it. I got past my fear if needless for a little while, but once I stated going more than a week or two between pokes, it came back.
    The waiting is so awful. I once had to wait 5 days between my scan and the results. I actually made myself physically sick with worry. I try to tell myself that if the cancer is back, it was back last week too, and I wasn’t freaking out then.

    The worst for me though is that everyone expects it to go away as soon as you get a clean scan. Cancer treatment has do many laying effects, but when active treatment is over, ask if your sort is gone too. Even the regular appointments with my medical team were so helpful, and without them, I felt lost and scared.

    • Mindy Peltier February 9, 2015 at 4:56 pm #

      Thanks for sharing your story, Vanessa. I know you were even younger than I was when you were diagnosed and your kids were very young.

      Yes, the expectation that a clean bill is a clean slate is hard, isn’t it? Because it really does lurk, especially when you’ve had recurrent cancer already. You’re never really free from danger, but you have to live in spiritual freedom. It is a challenge! Love you, Vanessa, and am thankful the Lord crossed our paths at the perfect timing.

  4. Norma Nill February 9, 2015 at 3:20 pm #

    I didn’t know you had cancer, Mindy. What? Yes, it’s true. Of course, I’m still new in writers’ circles and have seen you only a handful of times, if that. Yet your appearance didn’t reveal anything unusual. I thought, and still think, that you look amazing. (I almost asked you if your curls are natural.) You seem to have a ton of energy, too. I’m so sorry you have cancer. Thank you for writing about the hurtful stuff that some of us would never know about unless you told us. Your words encouraged me today.

    • Mindy Peltier February 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm #

      Norma, thank you for visiting today and leaving your sweet words of encouragement. Funny thing is, the two things you noticed about me are partially due to the cancer. I am always pretty high energy, but was on a forced hyperthyroidism regimen for years, so part of that was just hormones. Made me fidget like a kid during a long sermon most of the time.

      And, the curly hair is also partially due to cancer. Because of the thyroid issues, I lost a lot of hair. Between the weather in Seattle, wearing my hair a little shorter, and the new growth, it’s gotten way curlier in the past few years.

      Interesting thing about thyroid cancer is, the majority of my struggles are from the treatment, not the cancer. I’m thankful that despite the long cancer journey, I still have good health. Which also makes me feel guilty…

      Thanks again for your encouraging visit!

  5. Mindy Peltier February 9, 2015 at 4:55 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your story, Vanessa. I know you were even younger than I was when you were diagnosed and your kids were very young.

    Yes, the expectation that a clean bill is a clean slate is hard, isn’t it? Because it really does lurk, especially when you’ve had recurrent cancer already. You’re never really free from danger, but you have to live in spiritual freedom. It is a challenge! Love you, Vanessa, and am thankful the Lord crossed our paths at the perfect timing.

  6. Maureen February 9, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    Wept as I read this, dear sister. Appreciate your honesty so very much. I couldn’t say anything better than Jan did.

    • Mindy Peltier February 13, 2015 at 8:21 am #

      Thank you, Maureen, for always loving me and encouraging me, even from a distance. I’m so thankful for your impact on my life. We’ve shared so many similar heartaches over the past decade, I know you fully understand the power of a broken heart and a broken life. Blessings to you, dear sister.

  7. Deborah February 10, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    It’s taken me an extra day to reply. I really felt your post yesterday, and revisiting today, feeling it still. Just loving the fact that you are still here to share with us. :o)

    • Mindy Peltier February 13, 2015 at 8:30 am #

      Deborah, thank you so much for visiting and leaving a comment. I have missed my Blogger friends so much! Congrats on your latest blessing. I always love seeing how you craft and love your way through homeschooling. I followed many of your Pinterest boards. Thank you! You are so talented and faithful.

      Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. The doctors have told me from the beginning of my journey that I wouldn’t die from it, but I would die with it. Learning to live with it has taken a lot of my body, soul, and mind.

      May the Lord continue to bless you as you minister as a joyful mother of children!

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