What Cancer Feels Like

An amazing friend recently asked me, “What does it FEEL like to have cancer growing inside you?”

I’ve had lots of time to think about my answer. The best I can come up with is that it feels distracting. It is always there, even when you’re pretending it’s not. It has the opposite effect of pregnancy, which is driven by a constant feeling of optimism and hope. When you tell people you’re pregnant, they smile. When you tell people you have Cancer, they frown (it’s a downer, no doubt).

I sometimes find myself wondering if people can tell, as if I’m emblazoned with a scarlet “C”. Do I wreak of Cancer? Can people sense it? Does my dog sense it? It feels like a deep, dark secret, and secrets take energy whether you’re conscious of them or not.

And while it’s always there, sucking away energy and mental acuity, it also demands seemingly endless questions. Am I going to be OK? What will I have to go through? What questions should I be asking? What treatments should I undertake? Is it OK if I X,Y, Z? Should I live it up now or wait and see what happens (do I really want to let myself go now and then be Cancer-free for 50 years?).

So in many ways, though the surgery and its aftermath will be grueling, I’m looking forward to finally be doing something (other than sitting in waiting and exam rooms) to be better – to have a brighter future and to feel whole again.

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