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Posted by Haemish on Dec 24, 2020 11:00 pm

First and foremost Merry Christmas to all who read this.  I’m not sure how I feel about writing this but I’m putting it out there anyways because I figure this group, if any, might understand.  So if you read any of my previous posts you might have read that I am cancer free.  Great news right?  You would think that I would be jumping for joy and unleashing a new outlook in life and all of the cliches that go with it.  Instead I am struggling.   I struggle to be positive, happy, and fortunate with what I have.  I think what has gotten me down the most is living my life with “the bag”.  I hate looking in the mirror everyday and seeing that stupid milk bag hanging from me that I am stuck with the rest of my life. I feel sad for feeling this way because there are so many people who are way worse off than me leading great lives.  I was a stocky guy to begin with before surgery and secretly hoped that having to go through would make me lose all kinds of weight.  No such luck.   I wear shorts in the house and track pants outside the house because nothing else fits or feels right.  I try to walk everyday and know I need to exercise way more than just the walking but can’t bring myself to do anything. I feel like I’m stuck in this horrific body forever. That although I’ve beaten cancer, The Beast has still managed to take something from me that is preventing me from being my best self and moving forward.  I cry more than ever and feel completely alone even amongst friends.  How do I get there?  How do get myself to push forward snd make the changes that need to be made to start living again and present The Beast from returning?  Living alone definitely doesn’t help and this covid situation just makes it worse.  I’m sure I need some sort of counselling but how will that even happen during this time?  Anyways, I guess I’m posting to see what advice others have or do I just need to be grateful for what I have, suck it up and stop complaining.  Sorry to be such a downer at Christmas.  

Re: Struggling

Posted by Brighty on Dec 24, 2020 11:36 pm

Haemish‍  i'm glad you reached out and DID post this.    Your feelings are more common than you might think.  After being on the site for almost 4 years now, and reading hundreds of posts, I can tell you are not alone in feeling this way at all.     You went through hell.   You have every right to feel the way you feel.    You don't have to suck it up and no one here will tell you to do that.   I'm glad you are acknowledging your feelings, because it's the first step to dealing with them.    Many cancer patients will not feel back to their usual selves after cancer treatment.    They state a number of reasons from, fear of recurrance.......sometimes the anxiety over that takes over the happiness of being cancer free.    There are physical changes to a persons body after treatment that are sometimes permanent, and very hard for people to accept and get adjusted to.    Some people feel depressed and self concious about these changes.     Other people even have survivors guilt.     There are so many different reasons not to feel yourself after you finish treatment.     I've heard that for some the feelings start to go away as time passes..................for you, it's pretty recent and pretty new.     As each year passes, some have said they just used to their new normal and learn to accept it.     It might just be a matter of time.   You have been through such a frightening and traumatic ordeal.     It just doesn't work that way with cancer.........treatment, surgery, normal again.   No.   It's a very very traumatic experience.    you were dealing with a life threatening illness and that alone is terrifying!!!!!!!!!!!      It might help you to talk to a councellor.   Do you still have contact with the health care team who took care of you?    They could put you in touch with the oncology social worker or a support group with others who are feeling that exact same way, so you don't feel so alone.    I think most hospitals have support groups or some kind of councelling you can connect with.      Most support groups are still happening on line or by phone even through covid.     If that doesn't work, your family doctor can also refer you to someone or a group you can join.       It's not surprising that even with friends you feel alone.    No one truly understands  unless they have been through it.     My friends expected my fiance Dan to be back to normal like 10 seconds after he finished surgery.      They asked 'why can't he eat still?"  Well, it takes months, not 10 minutes for the body to repair itself after such a brutal surgery like that.    It just doesn't happen over night like people think it should.    The emotional toll it took on him also changed him as a person.       If you are not able to find any type of councelling, you may want to dial the cancer info line at 1888-939 3333.   They may also be able to come up with some resources for you to connect with.   I'm so glad you reached out.    You do not have to 'suck it up" nor deal with this alone.        
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: Struggling

Posted by Wendy Tea on Dec 25, 2020 12:13 am

Haemish‍  Oh boy, do I hear you.  And as always Brighty‍ gives sage advice. 

Can I tell you how I felt? I had a mastectomy so every day I see a large but beautiful scar that saved my life. I too am cancer free. But what I found was that after all that flurry of medical attention,  I felt abandoned.  I was no longer the center of attention.  I had to learn to love myself again. With the start of Covid lockdown in March, I was extremely fortunate to have a friend drag me out walking. When the weather is good I can do over 20 km per week.  Now there is a new problem.  As the weather deteriorates, my body aches if I don't walk!  Well heck, have I created a monster?

Yes our bodies look different.  I have a prosthesis to keep my spine aligned.  But it is not very comfortable and so I don't wear it during all my waking hours. I spent a lot of time trying to disguise my new body shape.  Are you getting more comfortable finding the right position for your bag? My brother has one that he seems to wear high up. His shirts are loose to hid it.

Remember we truly are warriors.  We have gone to battle and come home safe but not sound. Please keep sharing your story. I found helping others really was what helped me get through this challenge. 

Always wishing you the best. For me it was 12 months after surgery before I started to find myself.  Be kind to yourself.  We are here to support you. Message me anytime. 
Wendy Tea

Re: Struggling

Posted by Haemish on Dec 25, 2020 7:18 am

BrightyWendy Tea‍ Thanks so much for replying to my post.  I truly appreciate all that you have to say.  The loneliness is definitely causing me issues.  I find I am way more emotional about things than ever before.  I do feel abandoned since being cancer free.  I actually liked going for radiation treatments everyday because it gave me a chance to be social with the therapists and I felt a part of something. I like going for my follow up blood work so I can stop in and visit the people who helped treat me. The whole end to treatment was so anti climactic.  I was told over the phone and made a special trip into the cancer centre the next day just to ring the bell and get claps from strangers.  It feels like everyone who was so involved with checking in on me have decreased their contact since finding out I am cancer free. It’s like they are saying “he’s better now.  No need to talk to him anymore”.  I have family members who didn’t even acknowledge the fact that I am cancer free when I told them.  
My biggest issue besides loneliness is body image.  I hate how I feel and look. I go for massages and Physio to work on getting my body back on track but it just feels like I am killing time. You would think that with all this time off I would get into the best shape of my life and do nothing but workout.  I got very discouraged early on when I started walking, expecting the weight to drop off and nothing happened.  I know that I need to do more but mentally can’t bring myself to do more.  
@Brighty I did talk to a social worker at the start of treatment when I asked about home care. I think I need to reach out to them and see what they can do for me.  Yes I have experienced survivor guilt and not felt worthy of the title Cancer Survivor.  I felt I handled the physical issues well like treatment and surgery but mentally and emotionally The Beast has taken a huge bite out of me.  When I was teaching, I felt like I had a sense of purpose.  Since not having taught for almost a year now, I am searching for my sense of purpose.  I feel like I can’t go back to work as a phys Ed teacher because I’m a poor model of health.  I contributed to getting my cancer and I am not the model of health the kids need.   I’m hoping I can stay off work till next September not only to avoid the whole covid situation but to get my head right so I can be effective at work and not just go through the motions till I retire in four years.  I visited with people from my school a couple of weeks ago and one person couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t be back at work yet.  Yes people just see the physical and don’t get that just because you are done treatment and “look fine” that you are fine.  
I truly appreciate all of you and thank everyone for this forum to post, vent and hopefully find clarity through all of this.  

Re: Struggling

Posted by Brighty on Dec 25, 2020 10:07 am

Everything  you said makes perfect  sense Haemish‍ .     I'm so glad you  reached out to us.  Please let us know if you were able to connect  with . thst same social  worker.  The isolation  during  covid can be hard.... I live alone too.   I have to find creative ways of connecting with others.     A lot of it is by zoom. .. but I sometimes  'go out'with friends.   We pull up in our separate  cars... get take out and talk from tbe window...things like that.     .. anyway please  don't be so hard on yourself.    You've been through  a hell of an ordeal so give yourself permission  to feel whatever you feel.     We are all rooting for you and we're here for you.  We understand  and you are not alone.    Merry Christmas. ..I hope you get to see your daughter? ? 
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: Struggling

Posted by Lianne_Moderator on Dec 25, 2020 12:01 pm

Hello Haemish‍ 

Thank you so much for sharing what so many feel but don't always feel like they can say it out loud. I posted something about this recently and I will share an exerpt from it here:

Your post resonated with me because when I finished treatment 9 1/2 years ago, I felt the same way. I questioned why I wasn't excited, why there was no celebraton or parade even lol
Truth is for me, the 10 months I spent in treatment was exhasting, replaced my full time job with appointments and treatments etc. Then I felt cast out into the world with no idea of what to expect next and lots of fears of recurrence.  My physical treatment was done but my emotional and mental state needed a lot of work still. I was directed to a couple of books that I found helpful. One was called "Dancing in Limbo" - Making sense of Life after Cancer by Halvorsen-Boyd and Hunter along with  "Picking Up the Pieces: Moving Forward after Surviving Cancer" by  Sherri Magee, Kathy Scalzo .  Likely not everything in them will resonate with you but for me, it gave me validation that what I was feeling was very normal and some of the quotes felt like someone was listening to my thoughts. As you can see by your replies here, people are talking about this post treatment stage more often, but less so when I completed treatment.

The thread that talks about similar feelings to you is here: https://cancerconnection.ca/discussions/viewtopic/79/66824?post_id=336374#p336374

I will say too, though I didn't have the challenges and all that goes along with a bag, I too was not feeling like myself aftertreatment. I had gained 35 punds during treatment, I was bald, couldn't look at myself in the mirror. And while it certainly did not happen overnight, ( in fact it probably was 2-3 years for me ) I started to slowly come out of my cave of sadness, depression,  etc ( I had a bad break up 18 months after treatment ended so there was a lot going on ). I started walking more, eventually joined a gym , and started eating a little better. Nothing happened at once but eventually little pieces started to fall into place. I wish this for you too.

Continue to reach out,  We are listening


Re: Struggling

Posted by Whitelilies on Dec 25, 2020 1:32 pm

Haemish‍ Hello Greg.....first off:  you did NOT "contribute" to your cancer.......push that out the door,,,,,we get it for a variety of reasons.....
You are NOT alone in your thoughts of.....well all you shared...body image, self worth, depression etc.....
I have it too!
Cancer changes us, from the inside out.
Even if people "know" what you "had", they do NOT get it.....they think you ought to do the Happy-Dance or something....they think you can eat like never before.
I forced myself to attend a 90th birthday celebration of a great aunt....kind of had to attend....did not feel up to it....but I went.
Oh, there was lots of food...I wanted to heave, at the sight.  I sat at the end of the long table of guests....and had avocado slices......you bet someone hollered "She eats like a bird".  Well, I wanted to fly-on-out and perch elsewhere.People dont get it.
Bag - I truly understand......in time, you will "make nice".."make friends" with it......my first tip, I recall, sharing with you.....buy a lovely manly sweater, cardigan.....it will cover you....keep you warm, and you can place you hands in pocket to check on bag, fullness etc.  (For summer, buy a light, thin cardigan....NOT grandpa style....you are too young..lol)
Body Image - Again, things have changed, and so will your self image, of body.....try to walk a bit more.....buy weights 1 or 2 lbs for use at home....do stretches.....watch a gentle work out video.....the only exercise that is good for you, is one that you WILL do......do what brings you joy......
Depressed - well heck this time of year, everyone has a bit .....living solo is hard....no one close to talk to....pick up the phone OR post to us!
Covid - it sucks. period. we are all locked down, locked in. locked up.
Guilt to be cancer free?? This is "normal " too.  It is a feeling...you feel it....many do.....when all treatments are done, we are left SOLO....truly solo.....I feel abandoned a lot!
My "care" now comes from the Vitamin C/IV Naturopath Clinic.....I feel cared for.....someone asks me "How are you today?".....When that too closed, due to covid...i felt abandoned, once again......and it closed round #2.....

I thank you for posting....I thank you for sharing....we DO understand.  At my hospital, there was a Psychiatrist, Oncology only, who supported patients.  I thought "Whoah, I do NOT need a shrink !!"....it took me months to reach out to her......and I was thrilled I did....she was SO helpful...a breath of fresh air....I still have appts (virtual now) as I still need her support.....feelings dont disappear...they are here, some linger, some hide, some need attention.
Please see if your hospital has a social worker OR patient navigator, or Shrink, (lol) for support.

Greg: You Amaze Me.....I KNOW what the APR is......I get it....you have been through a lot (of crap - pun intended !).....you are here.....we are glad.

Big Hugs

off to the Loo


Re: Struggling

Posted by Pinto on Dec 25, 2020 5:13 pm

Hi Haemish‍ Greg,

I’m currently NED from stage 4 so I can totally relate. When people hear the cancer is gone, they think you’re cured and you can be on your merry way. I have one friend who keeps jokingly saying how normal I look and maybe I didn’t really have cancer in the first place. I didn’t lose my hair on CAPOX but that didn’t make it any less brutal!

I didn’t end up with a bag so I haven’t had that experience but I can relate to looking away when I pass a mirror. Even when I brush my teeth I just look down into the drain. Cancer has a way of either making you feel like a superhero or making you feel like a defective loser. Truth be told, I’ve never felt like I kicked cancer’s a** or slayed the beast, as some like to say. I had low self esteem to begin with so CRC has just amplified that. 

I’d like to think that when you go back to work, the kids will see you as a cancer slayer. A badda** who beat the odds. It’s cool that you have an opportunity to have an impact on kids’ lives. People are getting colon cancer younger these days (I was 42 at dx) so sharing your story could save their life one day or maybe even one of their parents. That’s one way to deal with the stigma of colon cancer - head on. Talk openly. Share. Be honest about how you feel and what you’re doing to become a better person. In an appropriate way, of course! 

And as @whitelilies mentioned, you did NOT contribute to your cancer so just give that one the big old hand ✋. I may have mentioned this before but in addition to being young, I was also slim, fit (mountain biker), mostly vegetarian, non smoker, etc. I don’t even have genetic (inherited) mutations so there’s no good reason why I should have stage 4 CRC at 42. Just bad luck as my oncologist said. 

It’s definitely worthwhile talking to a therapist. In BC teachers’ benefits include 6 free counseling sessions per year which are done on the phone. Maybe your benefits include something like that? 

Re: Struggling

Posted by SpeedyStill on Dec 25, 2020 6:05 pm

It sounds like you have a real interesting job. A teacher which you have done I assume for a few years.
What an important job and not an easy one in our Socioeconomic changing times.
You have been given a lot of great information from other Community members.
I also live alone and feel the pressures of my aloneness.
If you need someone to chat with on this thread I will be around for the next couple of hours. 
If I don't respond there will be other members who will.
I am not 100% dependable these days but I try.
Always believe in yourself even if you are not getting the fuel you need from other people.

Re: Struggling

Posted by jRiffRaff on Dec 25, 2020 7:18 pm


My friend  in Las Vegas had a perforated bowel, followed by a colectomy and an ileostomy.  He struggled, and still does with his bag.  I tried to help him by finding out more information about the bag and came across the term "ostomates".  I don't know if you've heard of that yet but it is a friendly term for people with a bag.  There are plenty of associations (which may be all related).  Here in Canada you can check out https://www.fowc.ca/.  I've even seen people showing how they wear it proudly in fundraising calendars.

It's worth checking out and connecting with the ostomate community via forums or otherwise.  It may help your perspective on the bag and living a full life with your extra accessory.

 Hope that is of some help,
(Stage 3 colon cancer Dx Jul 2020)

Re: Struggling

Posted by jRiffRaff on Dec 26, 2020 5:57 am

Hi Haemish‍,

I think the Canadian site i linked might only be worthwhile for the links page, but here are some other links that might be more helpful:


Re: Struggling

Posted by Haemish on Dec 26, 2020 1:03 pm

Pinto‍ Thank you so much for your supportive words and to everyone else for your info. I think it’s time to maybe reach out to other ostomates and see what connections I can make during this time.  I know there are lots and lots of people who have ostomies , I just haven’t met any yet. I have suffered from low self esteem my entire life and believe me this journey has and hasn’t helped. I have been very independent during the whole journey which has made me stronger but the aftermath of surgery has definitely hurt. The scars, the bag, the fact that I don’t feel comfortable in clothes. It’s all too much sometimes.  

I’m going to look into the social worker at the cancer centre and see if they will even see me now that I am cancer free.  Maybe they only take active cancer patients.  I know I have free counselling I can access through my teachers union but I don’t really want to talk to someone who doesn’t specialize in cancer patients.  I feel like they won’t be able to understand as well. 

When push comes to shove, I just have to bare down and get to work in making things better physically.  I have to start doing more to work out and walk and get more physically active. Perhaps I’ll see if I can find people who will help motivate me.  I do have friends I can call who will walk with me but I always hate asking people for stuff like that and then feeling pressured to help. 

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and I was fortunate to spend Christmas Day with my daughter and my parents and have virtual time with my brother’s family.  

Re: Struggling

Posted by Whitelilies on Dec 26, 2020 1:32 pm

Haemish‍ Hi Greg......I am glad you had special family time over Christmas....it helps the emotions and the soul.
Another place to reach out to,,......
Please find:
Connect with Filomena....she is a wealth of knowledge, kindness and connections too, and support.....I reached her many-a-time......she was solid as a rock.
Ostomates, Canada, another great idea!
I believe a social worker/therapist, etc from hospital **will** take you on as their patient, whether you are active patient, or not.....you are with the hospital....I still  talk with Psychiatrist/Onco and I have been arms length from Hospital for a while.......simply say "you wish an appt...the need is there".
We are here, with you.....
VIrtual Hugs

Re: Struggling

Posted by SpeedyStill on Dec 26, 2020 1:38 pm

I had to bail early last night but I am glad you are looking for help.
Associating with people in a similar situation is the best way to approach it. 
People who haven't gone through it have a lot of trouble relating.
This is why I have  found Cancerconnection to be a great support for me.
Finding some happiness is hard but important to our well being.
I wish you all the best

Re: Struggling

Posted by Haemish on Dec 26, 2020 2:07 pm

SpeedyStillWhitelilies‍ Thank you so much for all of your great info. I will definitely work to try and look into all those things. It is definitely hard to get  people to see what is happening especially when I didn’t look sick and didn’t act sick. I think they believe that everything else is fine and can’t understand why I don’t go back to work or carry on and get “back to normal”. They don’t understand that nothing will be normal again.  Yes I look like I did before but am no way the same emotionally, mentally or spiritually.  

Questions  I have to ask and am curious about.  What is your epiphany after all this or during your journey ?  Do you feel the need to give back or volunteer? Are you a vocal survivor who lets everyone know you had cancer and are a survivor or do you just quietly go about your business and look at as a blip on your life’s journey?  

Re: Struggling

Posted by Pinto on Dec 26, 2020 3:26 pm

Haemish‍ have you joined Colontown on Facebook? It’s an amazing community just for CRC patients and caregivers. They have specific neighborhoods for specific purposes. I just checked and they have one called Stoma City. It’s an American organization but there are people from all over the world on there so the volume of content is not lacking! What I like about it is I can post anything and I always get a response from someone (or many) who can relate and have useful advice to offer based on their first hand experiences. 

Re: Struggling

Posted by Whitelilies on Dec 26, 2020 9:32 pm

Haemish‍ Hi Greg.....Sharing.....over time, I have learned that people really do not "get it".....this journey.
Unless you have been there/done that, or, held the hand of a loved one.....they do not understand the depth, of our feelings. Of course, we/patients have changed...we had to!
From the inside, on out.  Our bodies have changed, our worries and focus have changed, and our thoughts are at times, in limbo. "Looking normal" is a passing, fleeting moment...feeling like sh*t, is daily....lol
Epiphany......well........I am the second type you listed.....the one who is more quiet, and not telling the world of my journey.......I told few.....I try to give back to others, and continue to focus on helping families with Autistic children, get the school supports they need.

Perhaps.....you may wish to start something "new" in Sept at your school? An after school program, for the students, to "Make A Difference"...let them choose what they want to change etc....and you can be their support, and guide them.  (It is OK to share with students, if you wish, of your journey....they will be in AWE of you !!...be honest....they may have questions.....they may even share some personal stories they went through/their families etc....you never really know).
You mentioned earlier.....shorts and sweat pants......My Idea: (I should become a Stylist.....lol!!!...order online a NEW pair or 2, of modern, funky, cool, sweat/comfy pants.....new colours are out there, soft brown, faded blue etc)...tapered at the ankle....drawstring on inside.....you can look AND feel terrific.....when we feel that we look "good", then our spirits go UP!  Try a new cologne......the scent may be uplifting for you (or another person).....Buy a new Hoodie.....in your fave colour.....and make it your "Work out Hoodie"....your go-to....

I believe small, simple things can make us feel so much better....stronger to tackle the big-ticket woes.

Make an achieveable To-Do List.......and you will feel great, when you check one off the list!  ie walk 20 min daily.....or  drink green tea daily.....or call 1 old friend a week and re-connect.

Make this new year yours!  You deserve it.
Greg.....you continue, to amaze me.


Duty calls........


Re: Struggling

Posted by Haemish on Dec 26, 2020 10:23 pm

PintoWhitelilies‍ Thanks for more helpful info and advice.  I don’t have Facebook and not sure I want to get it but I will keep the community in mind.  

I have my go to hooded sweatshirt that I wear most of the time when I’m out as it covers my bag completely and is bulky enough so I don’t feel like a pregnant woman walking around. Lol. I did some abdominal work today so that was at least good.  I have been having some pain and firmness around my stoma the last couple of days. I know I don’t have a hernia so perhaps it’s food being agree at me. 

I was thinking about when I go back to work how I will handle things. Part of me wants to tell the kids right off the bat and address things and part just wants me to carry on like nothing happened and only answer questions if they come up.  I have been teaching a leadership class the last several years and thought about doing a big fund raiser for the cancer centre as well as doing colon cancer awareness.  Just to help the people that helped me and make more people aware.  I am worried people will think I’m trying to make things about me and I definitely don’t want that.  Anyways, that’s a way down the road.  I have to get back into the right frame of mind to even feel purposeful again. @whitelillies I don’t know why you keep saying that I amaze you.  There are for more amazing people out here that I read about everyday, yourself included. People who have the ability to inspire and help heal just the way you are all helping me.  I’m grateful to you all and this community. You are right. No one understands unless you have had it.  

Re: Struggling

Posted by Haemish on Dec 27, 2020 3:33 pm

Whitelilies‍ Thanks for the info you gave me Lillian. I reached out to CCRAN yesterday and actually exchanged emails with Frank whom I’ve talked to before when he worked at the Canadian Colorectal alliance.  We are having a FaceTime chat tomorrow and he will be setting me up with a support group that hopefully I can talk to virtually. 

Re: Struggling

Posted by Whitelilies on Dec 27, 2020 4:41 pm

Haemish‍ Hi Greg.....I am glad you connected with CCRAN....Yes I believe Frank was part of the "Shuffle" of these 2 large organizations.
All good.
Wishing you a great evening......
p.s. you amaze me, because of your resilience.....

Re: Struggling

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Dec 28, 2020 8:51 am

Haemish‍ , I am sorry to read that you have been struggling, and hope I can add a different perspective for you. It’s good that you’re “laying out” your thoughts, and I hope that doing that is helping you sort things out. I also hope that the responses you’re getting are helping you feel less isolated.

You get that this “time off” wasn’t for you to get into better physical shape in the way your “phys ed teacher brain” thinks about how that looks, right? It was to get you into better physical shape from a doctor’s perspective (i.e., to remove a cancer from your body). It also appears as though you’re looking at your “model of health” through this lens/ mindset. Were you in terribly bad shape when you got your diagnosis? If so, did you question your “model of health” at that point? And, if you were the “model of health” when you were diagnosed, are you so far away from that that getting back there is unattainable?

Your body did what it needed to do when you were going through treatment to help you survive. So. many. people. have a premonition of what their bodies will experience during treatment (along with all the other scary thoughts), and it usually doesn’t involve gaining or even maintaining weight. My Dad gained weight during treatment, too, and to me, that was a sign that his body was prepared to overtake the disease.

You’ve been questioning your sense of purpose vis a vis being in the classroom, but you also mentioned retiring in four years in your post. I know four years was a long way out, but had you considered what your sense of purpose will be in four years, after you retire? Would it help you to think that between now and the time you go back to work (whether that’s soon or not until September) you’ve got a “trial period” for retirement? 

In another post you said this:

I have been teaching a leadership class the last several years and thought about doing a big fund raiser for the cancer centre as well as doing colon cancer awareness.  Just to help the people that helped me and make more people aware.

And, in writing that I think you may have perhaps answered your own question about purpose. We’re seeing more and more younger adults contract colon cancer (in their late 30s and early 40s), and you’ve got a forum to help at least 200 young people a year hear that message. I hear you when you say you “don’t want it just to be about you,” but you are a “real life” example, and that usually helps drive a message home with a little more “oomph.”

And try not to let that person who said, “You look fine, why do you need to be off until September?” fill you with self-doubt. That person means well: they’re trying to bolster you, not make you question what your body needs to be ready to go back to work.

For that matter, don’t let my words sway you, either.  All I’m trying to do here is get you to look at your own thoughts from another angle in the hope that you will feel less off-track. (That was a phys-ed joke)

Do keep coming here and reaching out. I believe that your background as a phys ed teacher has given you most or all of the tools to deal with your current emotional and physical concerns. Allow yourself the time you need to let the pieces come back into place.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Struggling

Posted by Haemish on Dec 28, 2020 11:46 am

Cynthia Mac‍ Thanks so much for the questions for me to think about. Before I got cancer I had always taught what the model of health looked like in terms of physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual well being but never lived it.  I’ve always struggled with self image and how I feel and blamed that for why I got cancer. 

This time off has been a good trial run for what retire might look like and made me realize I need to be involved in things. I plan to get back into golfing again, as well as skiing and travelling and need to get my head wrapped around living with my colostomy to make that happen. 
 @whitelillies I had a good talk with Frank from CCRAN this morning and he is going to set me up with a dietician who can hopefully help me get things sorted out. He is also going to get me someone virtually to talk with as well as set me up with a support group of people I can engage with. I feel so much better after actually talking to someone face to face over the computer.  Hopefully this will get me on track. I super appreciate the info you gave me so I could contact them. I also emailed my social worker at the cancer centre to see what he could arrange for me but he is away till Jan 4th. We will see what he can do and hopefully arrange local stuff for me to be involved in. 

Re: Struggling

Posted by Whitelilies on Dec 28, 2020 4:32 pm

Haemish‍ Hi Greg.....This is all such good news....lots of steps forward.... Frank is helpful and the dietician will guide you too.
I waited TOO long before reaching out to a dietician.....silly me.....
I am sure the support group will be terrific.
They have (CCRAN) one group, on one Sunday a month, with different topics.....they may branch out, and have different groups/different dates as well.
I have joined a few already.  It helps you feel less alone. Period.

Time to make you laugh......I went for a walk in my neighborhood.......and......YUP......got "that feeling".......of "I wont make it home in time for......"......true to my feelings.....yup; "It happened".....now you can laugh......I was not really laughing at that moment.....my lunch was a piece of toast and an apple....and 2.5 hours later:  401 Exit Ramp!


Re: Struggling

Posted by Haemish on Dec 28, 2020 6:53 pm

Whitelilies‍ wow you post everywhere. Lol. You must be on this site 24/7.  

Yes I feel better after talking to Frank and told him that down the road once I get my head on straight I’d like to be a cancer coach if possible. 

I’m interested to see who I can connect with and how they can help.  If anything, it’s someone new to meet who knows what I am going through. 

That was a terrifying story not funny. I forget. Are you on a bag or did you have reversal?  After going through APR surgery I can’t imagine going through reversal surgery.  That would suck.  When I’m out for walks and feel any gurgling I immediate check my bag to make sure I’m not having an overfill and need to get home. Lol

One thing I realized today is that I was very prepared for treatment and had a “playbook” that I followed which got me through.  There is no playbook for survivorship. At least not one anyone has told me about.  I think it should be mandatory that everyone see a social worker or take part in a group once cancer free. For me at least, going through the emotional, psychology and spiritual hardship has been even way worse than the physical hardship I experienced during treatment.  I know Covid has a lot to do with this but if you or anyone can direct me to survivorship strategies it would be helpful. It seems like when you are done treatment they wipe their hands of you (pun intended. Lol) and say see you in six months for follow up.  

Re: Struggling

Posted by Whitelilies on Dec 28, 2020 9:42 pm

Haemish‍ Hi Greg.....
Survivorship Strategies.....I am far from an expert (as I have never been told "NED", nor "Cancer-Free".....I have been tossed on over to the Survivorship Clinic.....5 glorious years worth)...I would hope that a strategy is coming from your heart.....do what makes you happy......celebrate each healthy day.......give back to others/volunteer....travel....fulfill your to-do lists.....make a change......support others.
Why not be a cancer coach?
By the way.....I had Reversal Feb 2019....so it is "off"....and still "action in voiding occurs...." sigh.
Embrace 2 words "Cancer Free".