My Experience with Loss that Accompanied my Cancer Diagnosis.

Posing with Family in 2004 at my Benefit
Posing with Family in 2004 at my Benefit | Source

Lung Cancer Survivor

As a cancer survivor of eight years, I feel it's important to educate people on the issue of loss that goes along with the diagnosis. I was only forty-one years old when I was told I had lung cancer. I'd never even smoked which made the scary diagnosis that much more shocking.

Cancer is a terrible disease any way you look at it. Even a positive, upbeat person like me found it difficult to see beyond the life-altering situation. A cancer diagnosis impacts not only the patient but everyone and everything in the person's life. Learning and educating yourself about the losses that accompany this disease is vital for the patient, loved ones and care-givers.

To help ease the fears of the unknown journey ahead of me, I asked lots of questions with my healthcare providers, attended a support group for other survivors, and met regularly with a oncology therapist.

Losses that can accompany a cancer diagnosis

  • Grieving the loss of innocence and belief that your are invincible. Loss of safety and naivet'e in regards to health. Mortality is no longer in the back of your mind but often in the forefront
  • Loss of Control and inner peace- Much of the loss comes with cancer treatments like chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries. Fear of the unknown journey ahead.
  • Physical Losses-Many cancer patients lose their hair from chemotherapy (I lost all my hair except for the back. I wore hats and you couldn't even tell I was bald underneath), have memory issues, suffer from sleep disturbances like restless leg or numbness of extremities. Weakness and fatigue are also common when going through cancer treatments as well as nausea and loss of appetite. Many health issues can continue for the rest of a cancer survivor's life. I still have issues with restless leg and numbness of feet when I sleep or sit too long. The nausea mostly left after chemotherapy but my stomach is more sensitive to certain foods now. For example, I easily gag when I brush my teeth or take my vitamins.I also have chronic lung issues because they removed the middle lobe of my right lung. My immune system is not as strong as it use to be which causes me to be sick easily or catch whatever 's going around. Let me clear, I am not whining about my health issues after cancer. I'm grateful to be alive. Getting sick is nothing I can't handle and it sure beats the alternative.
  • Loss of independence-There are varying degree's of loss depending on type of cancer and treatments. My twin sister became my Personal Care Attendant when I was diagnosed and helped me through the different levels of the cancer journey.
  • Loss of employment-This can be temporary or permanent depending on the type of cancer. This loss can be devastating for those who have found work as a major part of their self-worth and definition of who they are.
  • Loss of hobbies and activities- While going through the journey of cancer, there are times when doing things you enjoy are no longer possible. It's easy to get depressed when your not doing things that make you happy. It was hard for me to quit my daily power walks. I finally stopped when I was too weak and nauseous from the chemo.
  • Loss of friends or family after diagnosis. I was surprised to learn that it's a common theme to lose friends after a diagnosis. Many people become uncomfortable or afraid when someone gets sick and don't have the skills to cope with the change. The positive side of this is that those that stick around are the true blue friends you can count on. I personally lost three friends that I thought were the real thing. They were the people I spent most of my time with and we'd gone back many years. These friends got together and decided that I didn't deserve a fund raiser that my family put together. I was shocked and deeply hurt at the time but now look back and see they were not friends. It taught me to love myself more and pick my friends wisely.
  • Losing friends to the disease. No one wants to get in the cancer club, but once you are, the friendships become very deep and important. Losing these courageous friends is very painful and lonely. I lost four dear friends in my support group including my oncology therapist who also facilitated the group. In my neighborhood, three of us were surviving cancer. Within the last two years I've lost both friends to the disease. I am reminded by these losses to live every day to the fullest. I am grateful and humbled to be eight years cancer free.

Are you a cancer survivor or care-giver for someone with cancer

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© 2012 Linda Rogers

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Comments 46 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Linda, thank you for writing a sobering article, a truthful hub, and a hub that needs to be read and internalized by all cancer victims and caregivers. Bravo for writing this and bless you my friend.

bill


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

God bless you dear one for sharing such a refreshingly honest write straight from your heart. I am a DCIS breast cancer survivor just last year, and I was healed. Also, my husband's step-dad died from lung cancer a couple of years ago, and that was very difficult to watch. He was a smoker his whole life. It really would be hard to understand having lung cancer when one never smoked, but I now understand about the second and even third-hand smoke dangers. This is excellent and powerful. Such a beautiful photo and a lovely smile. Voted Way Up to the Heavens. In His Love, Faith Reaper


Maria Cecilia profile image

Maria Cecilia 4 years ago from Philippines

Very excellent piece of writing from someone who really knows....I am thankful I don't the have the Big C but this really hits me from the heart...Iet's pray for each other for strength that only our Lord can give... voted up...


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

The loss list goes on and on. I too lost my hair, my job, my investments (savings) and a whole lot more! You can't go back to count how much it's all changed when you recover because it's a different life. I'm 65 this year, too old to go back to work (and I can't be bothered anyway), so basically I'm a lot broker than I thought I'd be. That has a huge affect on how i live. I have other health issues and I need to see a dentist, but I can't really afford any care unless its free health care. The loss goes on and on. Good you wrote about it, thanks.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 4 years ago from Central Oregon

Having gone through this last year with my brother-in-law, Linda you are definitely right on in so many ways. He was devastated by his diagnosis and then the treatments that followed. He is in remission and like you, is hoping and praying for the future. You hit all the nails on the head and as always, I admire your courage and your ability to share so succintly what the "cancer club" means. Take care--thoughts and prayers always with you!


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

Bless you, Linda, for this honest, realistic account of what it means to be a cancer survivor and the many losses that often accompany the disease. May you ever remain cancer-free. Also, give a God Bless to your sweet sister, Laura, for me.


kashmir56 profile image

kashmir56 4 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi my friend great well written and interesting hub, my dad died of cancer in 2003 i was his care giver. I will ask our Lord to give you the strength you need daily, take care my friend !


ImKarn23 profile image

ImKarn23 4 years ago

sigh..i freaking hate cancer! You may or may not be aware that my cousin was diagnosed with stage 4 colon/liver cancer about 6 months ago - and has just undergone 9 hours of surgery to remove 2/3 of her liver and parts of her colon..

my sister has had it twice - once at the age of 19 - and once at the age of 33..(she's 54 now...)

Your hub is right on the money as far as what we lose, but - sometimes - we gain as well, yes?

my cousins cancer - as horrible as it is - has brought us closer than we've ever been...along with another family member..

any silver lining is a blessing...

voting every which way including loose!

shared forward..


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

The only loss you may have added was that special food that you really enjoyed, but no longer like either by association or change of taste buds.

Blessings friend, very good.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

So great to see you Billy and thanks so much for your kind comment. It was very healing to write about all the loss. I wasn't trying to whine but just put out the issues that go along with diagnosis of cancer. I also hope it can help others going through it themselves, or family, friends and care-givers. Have a lovely day Billy.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Dear Faith Reaper~you always make me smile with your thoughtful comments. I am so glad to hear you are healed of the cancer. Isn't the scariest thing to hear you have cancer. I never thought it would happen to me. So sorry you lost your husband's step dad to lung cancer. I guess the one good thing for me was I wasn't a smoker and had the less aggressive type of lung cancer because of that. I was however a stage 3A and they gave e a 20-25% chance of making it to five years. God had other plans for me and I know a big part of it is helping my sister raise her two children. I am blessed and so are you. Love Linda


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Maria. God gave me strength I never knew I had. My lord, family and friends were the reason I got through it. God Bless you Maria for your caring comment. I am very blessed to be doing great and the more time that goes by, the better my chances I'm in the clear forever. I guess the type of lung cancer I had usually comes back within three years. My oncologist is very optimistic and tells me it would be rare if it came back now after 8 years. WOO HOO!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Dear GoodLady-I am really glad you wrote about some of your losses too as it helps people understand how life altering the disease is. A friend of mine who is a colon cancer survivor always says, "my new normal." I think that's so fitting, as everything is different. Thankfully I have changes that are positive. I've learned to live my life better and to the fullest and I've learned to love myself more and that includes choosing friends that are true. Thx again for sharing your journey here.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Dear akirchner-thank you very much for your kind words. I totally relate to how your brother in-law felt when he was diagnosed. I will pray that he is forever cancer free. I really appreciate your thoughts and prayers.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Dear drbj: you are such a sweetie. Thanks for the sweet comment and for praying I'm cancer free for life. I am optimistic that I'm all good and so does my oncologist now that I'm eight years out. I just told Laura hello from you and she says to bless you right back :-)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Dear Kashmir~so sorry to hear you lost your dad to this darn disease. I'm giving you a big hub hug. Thanks so much for your nice well wishes. I feel confident these days that I kicked it's butt.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Oh my lmkarn-you are so right that cancer stinks. You sure have seen a lot in your family. Can I ask you what kind of cancer your sister had? So glad to hear she is cancer free these days. I also agree that there are always silver linings with the diagnosis. You grow up real fast, learn to live life to the fullest and more in the moment, don't waste time on people that aren't true friends, etc etc...Thanks for sharing how cancer has touched your life.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi tirelesstraveler-I can't believe I forgot that one. I do have different tastes now. I also get nauseous really easy now after all the chemo. When I take my vitamins and supplements, I do the gag thing a lot and at times, throw up all the expensive pills. Thanks for coming by and hope all is well with you these days.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

A very good point Minnetonka. There are always so many side issues that come along with any illness that people just don't think about. It's not just the disease itself but so many other areas of your life that are affected and this was a great hub pointing that out! Glad you are doing ok!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi catgypsy. Yes, it's not just the cancer itself but the treatments, the after effects etc... There so many upsides too which I plan to write a hub about in the future. You do live different and with more gratitude. I am definitely more in the moment and I've slowed way down and don't take on so much. I've also learned to love myself more and not be so hard on myself. I don't sweat the small things anymore and also choose friends who treat me with equal respect.


catgypsy profile image

catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

I'm so glad that you have made these changes in your life because they are important ones. Yes, sometimes it takes something awful to make us change the way we live. I also was so glad to see this hub as I was just thinking about you the other night...wondering how you were doing and that I hadn't seen any new hubs from you in awhile. Take care.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 4 years ago from California

I have been redoing all my cancer hubs that have idled tonight. I am going to add this to them. This hub is just wonderful and I think we balance each other nicely.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

That's so nice to know you were thinking of me catgypsy. Have a great week my friend.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Thanks tirelesstraveler~I'm honored that you'd add my hub link on yours. Have a great evening.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Thanks for sharing friend. You are quite a conveyor of the truth.

The Frog


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Aww~thanks Frog Prince. I try to keep it real my friend. Hope your having a lovely day :-)


always exploring profile image

always exploring 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

I do sympathize with you. I know the heartache of losing a loved one to cancer. My Sister Bea had a malignant tumor in the brain. It was so difficult to lose her, but a blessing too. Thank's for sharing Linda..So glad you are well..


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi Ruby~it's always great to see you. I love your new profile pic by the way. It's beautiful :-) I am so sorry to hear you lost your sister to brain cancer. It's so painful to lose someone but I agree that it's a blessing when they are so sick. One of the neighbors I spoke of in this hub had brain cancer too. He was actually eight years cancer free. They saw a spot on his brain after his last scan and although they weren't sure it was cancer, they put him back on oral chemotherapy. The med got him very sick and he ended up in the hospital. He eventually died from complications from a virus. This was a shock for the whole neighborhood. I really appreciate you coming by today.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

You are such a strong person, Minnetonka. I am in awe of your positive reflection of cancer. Thanks for sharing from your experience. Your wisdom will help many to face life again.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi teaches-awesome to see you my friend. Thanks for the nice comment and I always hope that my cancer journey can help others affected by the disease. God Bless


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Amen! Your article describes the losses that so many people have to tolerate when cancer rears it's ugly head. You have been an inspiration to me since I discovered you on HP. Wishing you continued good health.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

God bless you sunshine for your warm comment. Thanks very much for putting this link on your hub. That is means a lot to me. I hope my articles on my cancer journey can help others. Your the best. Have an awesome day. Let me know which hub it is as I'd love to go take a look.


Lord De Cross profile image

Lord De Cross 4 years ago

I hope you are fine. I lost an aunt as a secondary smoke lung cancer victim. Cancer should have a cure soon. We know we have a society with this terrible illness, and we must work on a cure. We spend so much in armaments and helping the world. CDC should find ways to get to the root of the problem. Thanks for sharing such an emotional experience. I said you had a beautiful heart, even before reading this article. I have ways to read pics, and I was not wrong again. God Bless you Linda Rogers!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

I take it your intuitive too :-) Your too kind leaving such a heartfelt reply-Life is so precious and I thank God every day that I got a second chance to realize what a gift every day is-Have a great day :-)


healthylife2 profile image

healthylife2 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

This is so well written because it is based on experience and one I relate to. The loss of innocence and feeling safe completely vanished forever. The experience also made aware of who was a true friend and which ones I have no interest in wasting my time on like the two friends you mentioned. It also made me aware of the kind of friends that I really value and I make more of an effort to spend time with them. I also overall spend more time doing what I enjoy and no time at all worrying what other people think:)


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Hi healthylife2-You so relate to what I wrote about. I guess when you cut it down, we just don't worry anymore about the little things, we simplify life more and learn how to slow down and relax and enjoy life more and no more spending time with people that don't give back in relationships or are toxic. It all seems common sense but once your diagnosed with a disease, it just all comes together. Thanks so much for taking time to read the story that makes sense to you too. Blessings


Anjili profile image

Anjili 4 years ago from planet earth, a humanoid

Thanks for sharing this important information. It goes into supporting those of us who are victims of this scourge. Your words prepare the mind with eventualities that one must confront when faced with the ailment. They also encourage and give strength. A very useful share to all. Voted up and useful.


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Anjili-I thank you very kindly for reading and always hope it will help others to see what its like-I also try to show the hopeful sides too-great to see you here :-) hope your week is wonderful


SarahJayne123 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing your story. Unfortunately breast cancer runs in my family so I have to have regular screenings. I founds loads of information on here http://www.pinehillhospital.co.uk/. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone, it's better to get checked!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Thanks for stopping by sarahJayne-It is wise to be on top of our health-thanks for the great link too


b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 4 years ago

A dear Friend of ours, was just informed he has Lung Cancer, and he too, Never Smoked. Reading your Wonderful and Informative Hub Minnetonka Twin, is enough to lift anyone's "Spirits", and Educate them as well. The Comments you have generated by this Hub are Wonderful...Everyone has a story to tell. Hopefully in our Lifetime there will be a Cure.

You dear Friend, are a Winner and a Survivor, Keep it UP!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Oh no b.Malin-I am so sorry to hear your friend just found out he has it too. Does he know what stage he is yet? They told me at first they thought I was stage one but after surgery they said the path report showed two lymph nodes that were affected. I went from a stage 1A to 3A-Those were really scary days and I am so grateful that I got through it. You tell your friend I am almost nine years cancer-free in March. If I can do it, so can he. My prayers are with him and all his loved ones, including you. Blessings


Seeker7 profile image

Seeker7 4 years ago from Fife, Scotland

MT this is another stunning hub - but also shocking and sad! I'm still sitting with my mouth open stunned at the so called 'friends' who didn't stick around and thought you didn't deserve???? a fund raiser???? I don't understand people at all sometimes I really don't!

As for others, okay, perhaps there are folks who can't cope well with sickness, but rather than just run away and hide, why not be honest to you about it?

Anyway, as you rightly say, they are not true friends at all and the people you have around you are obviously the salt of the earth!!

This hub was awesome and so informative. I've learned so much about the life changing side of cancer that I hadn't really thought about before!

Voted up across the board! Bright Blessings to you and yours!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 4 years ago from Minnesota Author

Dear Seeker-You write the most amazing and thoughtful comments. They give me goosebumps as I can see that your really reading them and understanding what I am trying to convey to my readers. You are a great example of why writing is so healing. Not only do I get to educate others about certain topics but the feedback keeps me inspired to write more. Thank you as it means the world to me.


prospectboy profile image

prospectboy 3 years ago from Texas

Wow Linda! This is a very touching hub. My heart really goes out to you upon hearing that you were diagnosed with cancer. My godmother, who is also my cousin, was diagnosed in the early part of 2012. She had to go through chemotherapy, and lost a lot of weight. She was never a drinker or smoker, but still ended up with ovarian cancer. She is doing much better now, but she definitely had her share of rough times. She lost her hair from chemo, and deals with numbness in her feet. I bring all this up, because reading your hub makes me think of her. and how she has fought and continues to fight to get her life back. I view you, her, and anyone else that have battled and beaten cancer as heroes. I wish you all the best. Excellent hub. Voted up, rated awesome, beautiful and sharing!


Minnetonka Twin profile image

Minnetonka Twin 3 years ago from Minnesota Author

What a warm and loving comment you gave me. It is really tough going through the journey of cancer but it also makes you realize how strong you are. I really learned how much I could handle and how much I loved life. Your Godmother sounds like a strong woman. Let her know that some of these annoying symptoms will be end or become much less intense, in time. I hope she is finished with the worst of times and lives a long and healthy life. Thanks so much for reading my story.

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