How cancer changes the pace of life

Elana Waldman opens up about what really happens to your social life when your days consists of hospital visits and recovery time

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Woman Looking out Window
Photo: Masterfile

So it seems lately that my world has gotten very small. Not quite sure when that happened but I find myself answering the question, “What’s new?” with “nothing” more often than not. I used to multitask. I used to run around doing seven different things at once. Now I spend half my week in bed, and use the other half going to the hospital for appointments, tests and chemo. In between, I can fit in a little socializing and taking care of my daughter Sydney. Otherwise, I really find that my world has shrunk significantly.

Now, I don’t want to complain. I’m tolerating this latest round of chemo very well. Although I experience extreme fatigue, I don’t get sick like I did on previous lines of chemo. I have little energy but I have few side effects other than that. Also, the treatment is working. My tumours have shrunk, my numbers are going down and my cough has significantly diminished.

Why does this bother so much then? Isn’t the goal to stay healthy, to stay alive? Isn’t that all that matters. I need to be able to be here for as long as possible and if this is the price I have to pay, it’s a small one. I think I’m bothered because cancer has taken control. I’m not living life on my terms. Cancer’s dictating my energy level, my activity level, my schedule…everything. I’m not able to do the work that I’ve become so passionate about — fundraising and public speaking — because I don’t have the energy to plan events. I’m not able to do the activities I want to with my daughter because I spend much of the weekend resting. I have to cancel plans all the time because I simply don’t have the energy to get out of bed that day.

I can still speak about world issues. I can still talk with my friends about their lives and their problems. I can have an interesting conversation about life, family and politics. But, I can’t live that interesting conversation right now and it does upset me. I know it shouldn’t. I know I should be grateful for the fact that I’m improving and not suffering horrible side effects. And yet, as much as we always find the silver lining in things, I guess we also find what is lacking. I try to focus on the positive but with so much time to do nothing but think. My mind can’t help but wander…which is not always a good thing.

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