Family Interrupted


I submitted my last post to Yahoo Associated Content, and it was chosen for publication:  Blindsided: Navigating a Post-Cancer Life.

I waffled about submitting it.  On the one hand, would it be selling out, exploiting a very personal issue for the sake of benefitting my dreams of being recognized as a writer?  On the other hand, it could help someone out there – someone dealing with similar issues and possibly feeling very alone.  The latter won out; I really want to do my small part to raise awareness about the other side of cancer.

With advances in technology and medicine, more and more people are surviving cancer nowadays.  That’s a very, very good thing.  However, with the increasing survival rate, a sector of people is growing with unique issues that just aren’t talked about much.  How to go on from cancer?  How to pick up the pieces of a broken existence?  How to mend hearts and psyches and families who have been bulldozed by cancer and cancer treatment?

The first, and perhaps most important step, I think, is to acknowledge it and talk about it.

Obviously, as I alluded to in that post, my own family is going through a very difficult time.  It’s all rooted in the cancer Michael had two years ago, and the havoc it wreaked on our life long after the cancer was driven out of his body.  For a long time, we just kept hoping that things would get better, that the pieces would fall back into place.  But things continued to grow more and more difficult until we finally reached a breaking point.  Things aren’t going to get better by themselves.  There is help out there, but it requires a humbling of oneself, and reaching out.  We are trying to pick up the pieces now, but it’s not easy.

If you or someone you care about is facing cancer, please be aware of the emotional impact of cancer, and the utter devastation it can inflict, not only on the cancer patient, but on everyone around them.  There is help available, but you have to ask for it.

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4 Comments on “Family Interrupted”

  1. M Beers
    August 26, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Congrats again on getting a VERY important and well written article out there. The mental health of cancer patients and their families is not talked about enough. Even as an adult child with a parent with cancer the diagnosis, treatment and aftermath can be devastating.

  2. Alyson
    August 28, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    Once again I am in awe of how candid you are. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows and things like cancer aren’t ” God’s plan”( that phrase makes me cringe). I appreciate you sharing it all.
    Sometimes I read other people’s blogs and when they only talk about the positive things I either think they are full of shit or I feel worse about myself and how I handle our families struggles.
    I am sorry that you are all going through such a difficult time after Michael was deemed cancer free. I think it’s an important topic because I am willing to bet most people don’t expect that.
    I am sincere in my hopes that someday I am pre-ordering your book. Lots of love from me to you mama. I feel like you are the California version of this New York mom

  3. Lauretta
    August 28, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    My husband and I faced the beast for the first time when we were in our twenties and I was pregnant with our first child. My husband had Hodgkin’s disease at 24 in 1977. Chemo was just being developed for it so we were on a protocol to determine which drugs in what combination worked the best. I was pregnant when he was diagnosed and delivered our daughter about half way through his treatments. The chemo took the rest of our children which was a horrendous loss for me in particular. We went through a very difficult time in our marriage because of all of it.

    The upside for us was that we turned to God and allowed him to be a part of our lives and heal much that was broken. In hindsight we now know that my husband’s recovery from cancer was divine intervention–he had a vision while in the hospital during the time they were trying to decide how to treat his cancer. We were not religious zealots at the time either. Didn’t even know such things happened! The cancer was gone in two months and he had tumors the size of a fist in his chest. We were too ignorant to understand the fullness of what had happened, however, and so he underwent ten months of hell called chemotherapy.

    Now 34 years later we are facing this damned thing again with stage four colon cancer–and signet ring cell to boot, just to make it a little more exciting! We had moved to be near our daughter and her family–five children 8 and under–which makes me in a situation of having no friends as a support through all of this. Not to mention the financial stress we are under since my husband retired early but had decided to go back to work in order to try to recover some of our losses from the economic downturn. Now we are stuck because he will never be employed with stage four cancer.

    I just wanted to write to you to let you know that I understand how you are feeling and to encourage you to be patient. Two years is not very long. It takes time for the body and the emotions to heal from such a deep trauma. We were able to live normal lives again but it did take a while. It was almost ten years from his diagnosis until we were recovered from everything. In our case the infertility was the deepest wound. Your family is a very precious gift and worth fighting for! My father has lived for over ten years after his treatment for stage three colon cancer. He is 83 now and still going strong. Lots of people make it through that stage of cancer and never have a recurrence. Take care and God bless!

  4. Lauretta
    August 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    Hi Lisa,
    I hadn’t read your other posts so I wasn’t aware of your opinion of religion when I posted the previous entry. Please disregard all of the religious comments but the info about cancer recovery is still valid.

    I wanted to mention as well that we knew of a family whose father got multiple myeloma. He went through really rough treatment and was having a lot of anger issues as well. After a while his wife decided she couldn’t deal with it any more and left. I always thought that was so unfortunate because he did settle down even though his cancer was chronic and he had to continue to take periodic chemo. I saw him a few years after their divorce and he was a changed man. Much calmer and more stable. Maybe anger is how some men deal with fear. I hope you are able to be patient and let your husband work through his emotional issues because I do believe he will again be the man you knew before cancer.

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