Stage IV cancer can look different in each of us. For those of us in treatment and experiencing side effects, cancer is often all too consuming…but for people not currently in treatment (and feeling relatively well), focusing on other life issues and trusting can be a new and unforeseen challenge .
One group member, who has stage IV ovarian cancer, shared that she feels as if she is living in two different worlds…one as a 56-year-old woman (her current age) and one much older. She is currently out of treatment, “feeling pretty good,” and is seeing her oncologist less. She has not been working and since her last treatment ended and she is finding that she has more time for herself. In one world she presents as a healthy 56-year-old woman who thinks about the future…planning trips, wanting to date and meet the “right” man. Her friends tell her she looks so good. In her other world she feels that her body has betrayed her and that she has a harder time doing the things she used to be able to do so easily. She also feels lazy (and that others may view her this way) for not working now that she’s out of treatment. In this “cancer world” she thinks about all of her possessions…not wanting to burden her only child with her things and papers. She finds herself spending a lot of time paring down the things she will no longer need, and which will not be wanted by her son when she’s no longer alive. In her cancer support group, she has permission to ask the bigger questions, like when will her cancer return and what will the next stage look like.
Do you feel that you live in 2 different worlds (some of the time/a lot of the time)? Why or why not? Are there challenges?
***As caregivers we can also live in two different worlds. What does this feel like? How do you juggle both/live between the two? What is this experience like?
I look forward to hearing your experiences!
Stephanie Stern, LCSW-C is an oncology social worker and the moderator of The MetaCancer Foundation’s Mosaic Online Support Community.
The MetaCancer Foundation provides information and resources focused on the unique psychological and emotional aspects of living with metastatic cancer. Mosaic is a free online support service for people living with metastatic cancer and their loved ones.