it’s 3am. I’m up working on a resume and thought I would share this. reinventing yourself post cancer isn’t easy. I’m not complaining -I’m just lost and trying to get on track and I can’t sleep.
I attached my headshot taken just before I left Austin. I look NOTHING like this. But this picture and my anchoring resume is what I have left to sell who I am? Exactly. I have to now convince others that I may not look like that but I’m still THAT journalist. I lost my hair but not my ability to write with passion, be a damn good journalist, voice over talent or show host. It’s hard to do in an industry where looks are everything. Soon I’ll have my wig for any potential opportunities.
I write the following post the other night because there have been tears as I try to find myself again after feeling lost for so long.
I don’t know if i can speak for ALL cancer survivors but I will try to speak for some of us when I say… the battle isn’t over when we leave the hospital so please don’t stop checking on us. The journey doesn’t end when you check out of the oncology unit and a support system is still needed.
For many of us it may be because of the physical damage the battle left behind or the emotional trauma. We won’t ask for help because after all.. we survived so why are we complaining right? We are too ashamed to speak up and say “Hey I’m struggling” when someone else we care about or you care about didn’t make it at all. So whether it is the survivors guilt or our own pride we often suffer in silence. We put on the face and act like we were the person you knew BEFORE cancer waged it’s war on our bodies, before we cried ourselves to sleep thinking we would never see our kids again, before we stared death in the face every single day… but we are not that person you once knew. We don’t look the same, we certainly don’t feel the same and we are far from the person you knew when we were checked in to fight for our life.
We have physical scars and damage the chemo, radiation, and other treatment left behind. For some of us, that means damage to our organs .. Kidney, liver, heart damage, vision damage, skin damage. We don’t look the same Our bodies don’t feel or operate the same way and our souls have been forever changed/tarnished or damaged in ways few could imagine. We love differently. We care differently. We have the emotional scars.. flashbacks of the horrible fight, nightmares of our children being ripped away from our arms so we can fight, images of loss we witnessed in the hospital and so much more but yet we have to move on like nothing ever happened Pick up the pieces, put on a smile and take on the world again.
Yes… Cancer is behind us -(we pray) what’s our problem right?
Please remember, the fight.. the journey and the impact is ALWAYS a part of us.. and the fear of what could happen again is never far from our minds.
I write this after speaking with a quite a few cancer patients. I know I am not alone. Each day further away from cancer, the more peace we may feel in our hearts. I speak from experience on this struggle. My transition home seemed so much like a fairytale.. I came home Christmas Eve after being gone from my son for 40-68 days at a time for a one year period. I was so excited to come home and so grateful to be alive. But i wasn’t emotionally prepared. . I thought there would be some switch that would flip and I would go back to my life as it used to be. “Oh i’m back” and I would just pick up where I left off but that didn’t happen. I felt like once I got home I had to be the person I used to be but couldn’t find her. I was physically weak when I was once so strong. I was often crying and depressed when i was usually so happy and carefree. Flashbacks played in my head all day of the people I lost. My liver and kidneys were damaged from the fight. My vision was not the same and oh I couldn’t work. I still can’t. At least not the non-stop demanding TV anchor job/heath reporter job I once held. (At least for now) So the girl who had worked her entire 20 year career to be the best journalist she could be -is now missing. The structure in her life is lost. She had no one to report in to. No where to go but she was ALIVE. She made it and kicked cancer’s ass so far! Now what?
You see no one prepares you in the hospital to live. Social workers come around an council you on how to prepare in case you die. Everything is centered around dying. Getting your paperwork ready and your mind ready. Then once you survive.. you thank GOD, celebrate, then you really aren’t sure what to do. (if you don’t have a job to return to) There’s no handbook. Nobody warns you that your body might be broken and your mind might be scarred. You are just sent home to go out and enjoy life and get back on your feet and look over your shoulder just in case. I’m doing plenty of enjoying life especially catching up on lost time with Gabriel and family time with my husband Cesar and Gabriel but getting back on my feet and reinventing myself part isn’t so easy.
If you know a survivor, reach out to him or her, ask how they are doing and how you can help especially as they try to get back on their feet.
Watch their face light up when you ask the question and their hearts fill with joy.
For those who lost loved ones to cancer please know we forever carry the burden of their loss in our hearts and on our minds.
We forever fight for them and for others who may one day walk this path.