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Tag Archives: inspiration

What Happens After?

by Terri Wingham, breast cancer survivor

The moment after you rang the chemo bell to signify the end of treatment or you ate the last crumb on the “Congratulations – You Made It Through Cancer” cake, did you wonder if you could click your heels three times and be transported back into your pre-cancer life? Did you look around in open-mouthed amazement when you realized cancer had forever changed you and that the “end” of treatment signalled the beginning of a brand new post-cancer journey?

Perhaps, like me, the “after cancer” road came complete with some unexpected land-mines like fears of recurrence, lingering side effects, and a volcano of suppressed (because you were too busy battling through pain or nausea to recognize them) emotions. When I wrapped up my final reconstruction surgery (post chemo and double mastectomy), I waited for the streamers, noisemakers, and old-school renditions of Auld Lang Syne to filter through my consciousness as I embraced the brand new, ‘ready for anything because I’d been through cancer’, me.

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What we call ourselves – finding the right term

by Andrew Griffith

reprinted with permission from MD Anderson

Over the past few years, I have reflected on the terms people use to describe their life with cancer. I initially tried to write a ‘glossary’ of the terms: hero, warrior, fighter, veteran, graduate, survivor, victim or living with cancer.

In trying this out with a few friends, one having gone through a comparable experience, one not, it did not work. People adopt different terms at different stages; a journey approach captures this better than an analytical approach.

Rather than the Kubler-Ross1 five stages (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance), written for the terminally ill, I find the William Bridges framework in Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes more helpful. Bridges talks about three phases: ending (or losing and letting go), the neutral zone (in between, or ambiguous phase), and the new beginning (acceptance and embracing). Circumstances change quickly, transitions take time.  This provides a convenient frame for cancer: from ‘normal’ to a new ‘normal’, which we can accept, if not embrace.

 

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