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Cancer and Emotions 101: How to feel fear and not freak out

KairolRosenthalby Kairol Rosenthal, Living with Cancer

As a young adult cancer patient, it is okay to feel ugly, unproductive, and dumb. Cancer might kill you, but so-called “negative” emotions and unpleasant feelings won’t.


When I was diagnosed with cancer at age 27, I went from being a social butterfly with an active dating life, to a homebody dressed in pajamas around the clock.  I didn’t feel pretty.  I also didn’t feel productive.  My career ambitions as a choreographer went on hold.  I crafted dances in my head while I was laying still in MRI machines, but I didn’t have the energy to make it into the studio, and my visions did not make it onto a stage.  I had to reserve my energy for other things like researching my disease and scrutinizing my doctors.  I was becoming a savvy patient educated about biology, pharmacology, and radiology.  Yet, I was so sleep deprived from stress, I sometimes couldn’t hold an intelligible conversation with my friends.  Huge fluctuations in my thyroid hormones caused cancer brain fog, and I didn’t have the mental stamina to read the newspaper or a fiction book.  I was not my snappy intellectual self.  Instead, I felt dumb.


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