Cancer Patient

1997 Cancer Patient or survivor?

When I woke up my first morning from the hospital my first question was, was I still a cancer patient? I felt strange. Who was I? When I was in the hospital I was someone who needed care. I was a cancer patient. But I was home and needed care, so what did that make me? Was I a cancer outpatient? Recovering person? Or simply still a patient? I had gone from home to the hospital and back again,

Many thoughts entered my mind, flooding me with anxiety. Who would I be after the big C? I had heard this question before and I certainly thought it. A bewildering question because no one touches on these things to help our fears. Cancer patients are often left to their own devices to find answers to some questions that haven’t been asked.

I had to be different, after all the doctor took a huge chunk out of me. It would affect my breathing, blood flow and other vital organs. It would limit me in my daily life. But how limiting?  Did I have a new label? Was I maybe a survivor?

The sheets felt cool and soft, bringing back memories of having been here before. I didn’t want to hurry this deja vu away. Realizing that I was still the real me was a huge relief. I had the same me-ness that I had always felt; A me feeling, a knowing feeling, a certainty. I had my unique consciousness. Home in one piece, safe and sound. I just might be ok.

When I got out of bed I remembered that I didn’t smoke anymore and that I had a deep, pulsing, throbbing pain on my side, keeping beat with my dog’s panting.

Cancer patient with scar
Open Chest Surgery Scar

My scar looked much like this but smaller. This is not me.


When I went to take my shower I just had to take a good long look at my scars, my whole body. I tore off the bandage and there it was! The remnant of my surgery. It will be my admonition, my forewarning. It was yet another scar on this already scarred, flawed person, who had lived life so far as impetuously as a school of fish changing directions.

I’m old enough to have lost any vanity that would make me care about any scars. I want to make it through my healings, my mendings to a more preferred place.  But I still was discovering other physical things. I noticed that my top right rib was showing more prominently than my left. I knew that my ribs had been spread for access to my right lower lobe. It looked as if were announcing itself. I didn’t like it, I complained. But there were bigger fish to fry, more to worry about than a stupid rib that looked like a shelf.

After drying off and re-dressing my wound I was ready for my first cup of coffee and something to eat. I noticed that my mood had changed. How can I do something normal without smoking? I had had two weeks of it before surgery and it was very tough, even with the patch. Now there was no patch. It was pure cold turkey. but my mind was also in its anticipatory mood that one gets before surgery. Sweaty, clammy dread. It was like when my twin sister and I were sneaking cigarettes, dreading if our mother would find us. I was desperate with my hankering for relief from nicotine enslavement. I felt miserable.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars” Kahlil Gibran

6 thoughts on “Cancer Patient

  1. Maureen says:

    It’s hard for patients when they finish treatment or leave the hospital-it is a state of limbo that I wish and hope care providers work harder to protect from. I hope this blog really takes off, so thousands of others can know they are not alone-and that this state-not knowing who you are, wondering if you’re safe is both agonizing and a gift. The gift is the opportunity to define who you are-to put a point on something often just taken for granted. The fear, loneliness and uncertainty, however often takes over and this opportunity doesn’t always get a chance to present itself. Brava, my friend!

  2. Pingback: Open chest surgery. lobectomy

  3. Pingback: Urge to Smoke with Lung Cancer. broken rib. Scars.

  4. Pingback: Smoking and Lung Cancer. broken rib. Scars. urges to smoke

  5. Pingback: Survivor, lung cancer, chemo, treatments. cancer,

Comments are closed.