There are very few things in life that can match the emotional roller coaster ride of having a loved one get diagnosed with cancer. When my fiancée was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, I can remember reeling through emotions every minute, every hour, and every day.
That first day of diagnosis my main question was “why him? This isn’t fair.”
Once the reality of the diagnosis set in, the next emotion up on the ride was grief. Mostly we began grieving the future. My fiancée was only in his mid-20’s at the time, and I was unsure what, if any, life experiences cancer might take away from us. Life experiences like having a family together or worse, cutting our time together short.
Things were uncertain in those first couple of days of being diagnosed with cancer, especially what our future looked like. Anyone who has taken a ride on the cancer roller coaster understands the levels of grief and uncertainty. The questions about your future may be different, but the experience is similar.
From uncertainty came fear and worry.
We began worrying about all the things that were going to change in our life. How would it be without being able tot work? Will he be very ill with treatment? Can we get through the stress? What do we tell our friends? When we began to think about all the things that would definitely change to the things that could possibly change in the upcoming weeks, months, and years a sense of anxiety arose from the worry.
From anxiety came the need to do something. We began researching the cancer, empowering ourselves to be active participants in the experience. We began finding resources that provided technical information as well as emotional support. It seemed like if we knew everything about cancer, then we could over come it.
Once treatment started we got into the “just get through this” mode.
We had a count down to each milestone of treatment and used these milestones as proof that we were progressing on the ride, and it would be over soon.
When I think about the emotional roller coaster ride of cancer, I am grateful for learning how to come into the present moment and focus on what is truly important in life, which is love.