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

We Understand Each Other

by Logan SteenbergenSurvivor, GlioblastomaAugust 3, 2023View more posts from Logan Steenbergen

There are times in each of our lives that we feel isolated from the people around us. We feel left out, struggle making friends, finding our purpose, but that’s life, right? This is a feeling everyone, no matter your circumstances, understands. The pandemic only intensified those feelings in the majority of people, including myself. I teach, so I was used to being surrounded by 20ish Kindergarten or First grade students. When the world shut down, my world got eerily quiet. I didn’t hear my name a thousand times a day, I didn’t have to tie anyone’s shoes, open snacks, and I wasn’t ALLOWED to give hugs!

In October 2021, I had what I now know was a partial seizure while I was teaching small groups in my classroom. This was the second of these I’d had, so I knew it was time to take it seriously and go to the doctor. My sister came and picked me up and immediately took me to the ER. They initially told me that I was suffering from Complex Migraines which were presenting themselves in seizure-like behavior, but decided to do a CT scan out of extreme precaution. About an hour after the CT scan, the ER doctor came in, cracked a joke to my dad, gave me the finger guns and told me that they had found a large mass on my brain and the Neurosurgeon would be in soon. The next several days were a total blur. Two days after they found the mass, I had surgery to have it removed. During this time of my diagnosis and recovery I had times when I felt completely covered in love and I had times when I had never felt more alone, even in a room full of people.

My family, friends and community gathered around me and covered me in so much love and so many prayers. Although I was really never alone for the first several weeks after my surgery, there were times when I had never felt more alone. Each member of my family understands what the other one is feeling about my diagnosis, because they all experienced it together. I, on the other hand, was experiencing the exact same events as them, but from a completely different perspective. It was and still is such an isolating feeling not having people around you who have experienced what you are experiencing.

I discovered my official diagnosis of Grade 4 Glioblastoma on the app SIX weeks after my surgery, and never got a call from my doctors or care teams. This left my family and I to learn about this terrifying disease alone. I don’t know if you have ever googled Glioblastoma, but don’t, it is terrifying story after terrifying story. In these moments, I knew I had to get a second opinion, but I was so overwhelmed by the fact that the people who had overseen my care thus far would no longer be a part of it. This only furthered the isolating feeling I was experiencing.

As I heal both mentally and physically, I continue to receive clear scans, I am back to some sort of a normal routine and back in the classroom, there are times that the isolating feeling becomes completely overwhelming. I know I am loved. I continue to get good scans. Everything is heading in an extremely positive direction, but as the world moves on day by day, my world pauses every 2 months for scans with the overwhelming fear that my cancer will return.

My advice would be to take every avenue you can to meet people with similar cancer journeys as you. I have found a small group of friends, 4 of us have been diagnosed with brain cancer and one with thyroid cancer, who helped me through every part of my journey. I have learned so much about myself through them and their journeys. While we all come from very different walks of life, there is one thing that bonds us together, we UNDERSTAND each other on a level that very few people ever will! I HATE that cancer brought us together, but I also LOVE that cancer brought us together because when I am feeling my loneliest, when I am feeling the most isolated, I know that I can reach out to them and they truly get each of the emotions I am feeling! That is what makes this lonely journey a little less isolating!

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