THE BLOG
08/14/2013 10:40 am ET | Updated Oct 14, 2013

I Don't Know How to Be Anything But a Patient

I was the patient. I was the sick one. I was the one who could've died. I was the one who had the chemo, the surgery, the radiation -- and I was okay with that.

I don't know how to be anything else.

I never once thought it would be joyous to care for a cancer patient, but I really thought that it seemed easy compared to being the patient.

I've never (in my adult life) known someone who was going through cancer treatment, or even having a simple test done to just rule out cancer. I luckily never had to deal with it. I had to deal with my own experience, but that has passed, and if it were to come back, I know that I can get through it again. Since the beginning of the year, I have had a small handful of people I care about either be diagnosed, or have had a "scare." Other survivors may disagree with me, and I'm not saying that cancer treatment is easy in any way -- I'm saying that now that I am on the other end of the spectrum, it really isn't any easier. I guess there is nothing easy about cancer.

I don't know how to be a supportive caretaker or just offer words of ease. When my husband told me he had a bump on his arm, I didn't sleep for weeks. I was convinced that it was a tumor and instead of being by his side and telling him that it'll be okay, I lost my marbles and told him I didn't know how to play this role. It's all new to me. I don't like it. I'd rather be the sick one. Maybe it's a control thing, when I was sick, I held on to a tiny bit of control, but I don't have that when it's not me in the doctor's office. I forced my husband to go to quick care so that in case it was some kind of cancerous mass, it wouldn't spread. That is literally what I told him, and you know what? It was nothing. He's perfectly fine. I overreacted over nothing. I wasn't there for him when it was his time to be scared. I have another person in my life that I care deeply for that has to go in for a bone marrow biopsy in a couple weeks so that a form of bone cancer can be ruled out. This person has been going through all of this, and when I found out about it I literally had to use all of my will power not to tear up and convince myself that they were going to be diagnosed. They need positive words, and they needed me to be strong, but I wasn't. I managed to hold myself together (somewhat), but broke down immediately upon walking into my front door. I barely slept, I cried. I can't deal with it. Honestly, I'd rather go through cancer treatment 100 more times if it meant that someone I love wouldn't have to.

I wish they would've taught me how to deal with this in cancer school.

I feel guilty. I don't know how to feel. I jump to conclusions. I assume the worst will happen. My positive attitude and outlook seems to be a blurry wall that I am constantly chasing after.
I remember having visitors with smiling faces, saying uplifting things to me, keeping my spirits high when I was in the hospital, after the bad news had been delivered. Has my cancer experience taken that ability away from me? Will I ever be able to be there for someone when they really need me without freaking out so badly that I need someone to comfort me?

Maybe it just takes time. It is a constant battle, but I am hoping that someday, I can be strong for someone.

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