LIFE AFTER CANCER CAN BE CHALLENGING.
After treatment, it’s common to feel excited and anxious about the future.
At this stage, survivors often reflect on their priorities, relationships and goals.
Many survivors say that cancer changes them.
And with time, they often find a new and more meaningful way of living.
Everyone expects survivors to move on and feel grateful. But many people still need our support.
On World Cancer Day, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada is lifting the veil on life after cancer.
WE’RE STARTING CANDID CONVERSATIONS IN COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
We’re here to help survivors talk openly about some of what they’re going through.
Because life after cancer can be complicated, but we can help survivors navigate this part of their journey.
“I DON’T WANT TO BE DEFINED BY CANCER.”
Type of Cancer: Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
Diagnosed at age: 28
Early symptoms: “I first noticed a bump behind my collarbone. At the time, I was preparing for a race, so I left it alone for about a month. Eventually, I had it checked out and during my ultrasound appointment, the radiologist said that he is going to recommend a CT scan and a biopsy “because young people get lymphoma too”. I thought to myself – is this how a medical professional should be having this conversation with me, but before I could say those words out loud, the radiologist said his goodbye and left the room.”
Cancer happens for a reason? “No one knows why cancer happens, it just does. It’s the luck of the draw. Before cancer, I was active and healthy, so it was frustrating to watch people my age treat their bodies poorly and not have cancer. I wasn’t angry, I needed to stay positive to get through this experience.”
Life, interrupted: “The best part about being in your 20s is the independence that comes from having financial freedom. When I was diagnosed, I went on long-term disability and there was a waiting period during which I had to accept some financial help from my parents. That was tough for me.”
Road to recovery: “I started chemotherapy treatments immediately and within six months, I was in the clear. It was almost better than I had expected it to be. I was just bald.”
Personal boundaries: “In between treatments, I was well enough to fly home to see my family. A woman sitting next to me asked whether I was in treatment. She wanted to know virtually everything. Her blatant disregard for personal boundaries made me feel uncomfortable.”
On life after cancer: “My big frustration with this experience is that other people want to wrap it up in a nice bow and refer to it as my cancer journey. I don’t want to be defined by cancer because I am so much more than that. I want to be me.”