The Elephant in the Room is Cancer. Tea is the Relief Conversation Provides.

Treat Us Gently

by Rebekah PalmerPatient & Survivor, PTLD B-Cell LymphomaMay 17, 2023View more posts from Rebekah Palmer

I wish people knew that once cancer has attacked your body and the treatment ravages your immune system, there is no going back to before, nor do you never think about the cancer again—if it goes into remission.

Every year when flu seasons are at their highest, it’s more significant because now the flu isn’t just time off from other people and life’s routine—the flu could now seriously deplete your body for several more days and weeks. Preventative health is a giant measure in seasons of communal illness. Especially now that flu seasons have doubled up with pandemic precautions since 2020.

Being on top of boosters for COVID, masking in large crowds, and creating more distanced communities online and through Zoom is imperative for cancer survivors. We’ve done the distanced community before the world shut down in 2020, so we should be seen as experts regarding pandemic living while doing school, work, community, and recreation. We should be respected for how to keep healthy during unprecedented times.

I wish people knew watching those St. Jude commercials before a movie at the movie theater or while watching TV at home can be completely triggering. We’re already reminded by our bodies and their scars that we’ve gone through cancer, so it’s hard to be confronted even more that we exist to encourage non-cancer people to fund better treatments. At least, it often feels that our stories are only supposed to impress the world to care that we still need better care and treatment while going through cancer—when it’s also not mentioned that post-cancer care is just as important.

It’s hard to grapple with your existence after being told by medical professionals that death has a specific percentage of certainty while undergoing treatment. Or grappling with other cancer patients being part of that percentage of the dead while you aren’t. More space should be utilized for mental and emotional healthcare post-treatment. Perpetual states of gratitude and thankfulness aren’t full-time jobs or a grand life purpose for survivors. We haven’t received radioactive superpowers to become one-dimensional humans after treatment. We are still human and feel the full spectrum of attitude in being human and are now trying, like everyone else, to create future lives to live. We just now have added more fear, nervousness, grief, worry, and concern of potential relapse and our memories of our time with cancer.

And those memories resurface regularly as long-term side effects from the acute cancer treatment take hold of our bodies as we age into longer survivorship. We have appointments in various increments as well as changing healthcare plans upon other diagnoses that arise according to individual family history. Cancer will always be a part of our health history and revisited if and when other illnesses present themselves.

Please be gentle with survivors of cancer and consider our stories when we offer them to the public.

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