Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Cancer threat lurks after cure

Should I read it or should I pass it by? I think I'll take a pass because it will probably upset me. I read a paragraph, then the whole thing. I don't want to be uninformed.

"It" is an essay in today's New York Times headlined "New Cancer Threat Lurks Long After Cure." It talks about the risk of secondary cancers that can spring up as a result of chemotherapy and/or radiation. The writer mentions Robin Roberts, who told viewers of "Good Morning America" last month that the breast cancer treatment she received five years ago caused a new diagnosis, myelodysplastic syndrome, which can lead to leukemia.

The essay was not so much frightening as a call to seize the day. Still, it points out something we already know: You can get sick again. You can't keep that fear in front of you all the time, because then you would not live your life.

But sometimes the subconscious (or the conscious mind) reminds us that it's hard to get away.

Last week I had a relapse nightmare every night. They were all basically the same – a blood test came out badly and a doctor told me I had six months to live. Night after night of this can cast a pall over your day.

I don't know what started it. Maybe Nora Ephron's death from AML. Who knows. I talked to my therapist about it, and she said to stop trying to figure out what started it. She said to instead try a "dream rehearsal" in which, just before bed, you redo the nightmare with a different outcome. In my case, perhaps the bad blood test was a mistake, or perhaps I had a blood test and the results were good.

I tried the second approach. The dreams stopped.

I'm sure that's not the end of it, though. It's just something we have to live with. But hey, we're alive.


PJ said...

I haven't had a nightmare in a while, but not a day goes by when I don't think about secondary cancers, which I've developed but so far have responded to treatment. I'm glad you found a way to have sweet dreams.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Runder-Woman,

Carpe Diem! i too have been suffering from nightmares , but about loss --

we sometimes forget that there are many many cancer survivors! and you are not just one, but a thriver! inspiring all of us...

your honesty about anxiety is also ironically reassuring...

xop! keep up your wondrous work!

Anonymous said...

I was told, when I was diagnosed with my second cancer, that most people who get a cancer at some point get a second, unrelated, cancer.I too have nightmares occasionally but have learned to live with it and am grateful for every day.