It’s Sunday night, and I just finished the Breast Cancer Guide. I’m wrapped in a blanket, drinking hot cocoa, and shivering from the flu. Logically, I know it’s the flu because two of the kids had the flu this week, and my symptoms are completely in line with theirs. But emotionally, I’m not sure.
The two-day headache? What if my breast cancer is back, has metastasized, and is now in my brain?
The fatigue? Thinking back to pre-cancer diagnosis, I was so exhausted all the time – like I have been this weekend.
The sore, swollen lymph nodes? The fever and chills? What if it’s not the flu? What if my body is fighting something else?
I’m almost four years out from my breast cancer diagnosis, and part of my post-cancer treatment involves quarterly appointments with oncologists and surgeons. I do self-exams every week. I know the cancer is “gone” and my outlook is great, according to the doctors. But I know the cancer could come back.
I’m starting to realize that the fear will never be completely GONE-GONE.
It’s in my thoughts. Not every day, but when something physically doesn’t feel quite right. It’s something I don’t talk about or like to admit even to myself.
It’s the “what-if” elephant in the room, and I’m scared.
I’m terrified that my cancer will come back. I’m afraid it won’t be as “easy” to defeat this time. I’m worried that I can’t fight it again, that I won’t be as strong physically or mentally. I fear the emotional impact on my family, especially the kids, to have to go through that with me again.
The logical side of me knows this fear is common with cancer survivors, but that’s the thing with mental health. It plays tricks on you, even when you KNOW what’s happening.
So on days like this, when I’m stuffy and sore and tired from (what I know is) the flu, my brain wanders to the Land O’What-Ifs. And it sucks.