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The wrong way to deal with cancer

Grandparents and children sharing tips and stories

From Jody Michael

In August of 2004 I was sent in to hospital for a simple test due to bowel problems, it turned out that my test showed that I had cancer. Two tumours, each of a different type. One near my prostate and one in my bladder. Suddenly everything was turned upside down. My urologist referred me to an oncologist who was more than happy to put me on show in front of numerous onlookers as I was 24 years old and my cancer proved to be a rarity of its type for the location, and especially for my age.

I was back and forth for tests, and more tests, biopsies and cameras, and through all of this I could hardly make sense of all that was being said and what I should do to deal with it. At this point I was put on a treatment scheme which included hormonal therapy, and I must say that this had some strange effects on me and my character, but worst of all I had to deal with the decision of whether or not to tell my fiancée and family.

Several years prior I had dealt with the death of someone close to me because of cancer and saw the rippling effects it had on the lives of the people around her, not only family but friends, and most of all on her due to peoples changes in attitude towards her and how they treated her. With this in mind I decided to go at it alone, and try and cope with things so that I did not feel alienated, and so that people treated me for me rather than someone to feel sorry for.

I made other decisions in life, I went beyond my capabilities to start a business and build some kind of legacy to leave behind should everything fail and I was to die. The following 15 months were the most difficult to deal with, my treatment changed three times, I met with Urologists, Oncologists, GP’s and who knows how many other specialists whilst sneaking out of the office for appointments. I didn’t know where my life stood, where it was going and who to talk to. I had to lie to cover it up.

Finally, at the end of October 2006 everything came crashing down around me, My business failed, I lost my home, my money, and to make it worse my specialists wanted to operate on one of the tumours to remove it, whilst on the other hand the other tumour had started to spread and I was informed that I would have to under go Chemotherapy. Suddenly my life had no future to it. Then my stress got to me and I took it out on my friends, family, colleagues, and worst of all my fiancée, so she left me. Then I took it out on myself.

Through all these months my specialists had tried to drum it into me that I need to tell the people close to me what was going on and I refused. Then at the beginning of November after returning from a week in hospital I started my Chemotherapy, I knew immediately that the signs were going to show soon so I had to tell the people close to me. So nearly a week and a half later I did.

Finally it felt wonderful to talk about it, but at the same time I felt ashamed to talk about it, I didn’t want them all to know the intimate details of what went on and what was happening, I wanted them to know there was something going on but I couldn’t tell them all of it, it was just so embarrassing and degrading for me. But everyone was supportive and it did feel good.

But then it all changed, I started to get paranoid that everyone was treating me different now, I knew I looked different and was noticing more than normal the glares from friends and strangers. I had forgotten most of who the real me was and now I was losing the rest, I was becoming a specimen and a lab rat to the people I loved as well as the specialists that treated me. My life was becoming more and more different and I just want to be me. Now because I will not let them see and hear everything, I have lost some friends and family. They don’t feel like I trust them, and in a sense I don’t as this is my situation and though I will let them have what I can, I can’t give it all away straight away, I need to let people in slowly and through my own manner rather than by letting them take over. I feel selfish, but at the same time I feel I need to keep a bit of myself for myself.

I don’t know what is going to happen next, I do know that so far Chemotherapy has been the worst experience of my life, I know that I have many risks along the way, and the next six to nine months are going to dictate the rest of my life, and how long or short that is going to be. Part of me is glad that people know, and the other part regrets anyone knowing. I have to deal with this but sometimes it is not easy.

"As a cancer patient It is hard to deal with this emotionally and physically, if any of you know someone that has cancer, try not to treat them too different, don’t step on their toes but be supportive and let them allow you in at their own pace and will. If they don’t it is not because they don’t trust you though in times of frustration it may seem or come out that way. At the end of the day they feel like they have become a specimen and any normality that they can maintain they will. Letting people in can sometimes be a very hard and slow process, but it is about the ones that you love and that love you that get the first steps through the doorway and into their life and aspects of their treatment. Look after them but leave them some dignity, they are still people and they still like a little privacy."


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Updated: 28 September 2009