NPR logo Adapting to New Realities

Adapting to New Realities

That should get better. As a cancer patient, you hear that a lot. Weakness from the radiation? That should get better when we're done with the treatments. Pain? Same answer. Neuropathy? That constant tingling in your legs and feet? That should get better over time. Unless, of course, it doesn't. When it comes to side effects, sometimes all you can do is wait and see and hope.

I've tried to come to grips with the fact that some of this is permanent. It's not going to get better. If it does, great. But I can't just sit around and wait. One of my nurses was asking me some questions about my history. She asked me to compare how I feel now with how I felt before I got sick. Wow. I don't think I could come up with an answer. I don't think I remember how I felt before the cancer invaded my body.

I guess I've gotten used to feeling bad. Now, I don't mean that to sound like I'm feeling sorry for myself. That's not it. You just get used to your new realities, good or bad. And it is always amazing what we can get used to. That's when you find out how strong you are. Not when you go through a crisis, but when you have to keep going through it day after day after day. When no matter how tough the previous day was, you have to get up and do it all over again. That's when courage comes in.

So maybe some day I'll wake up and feel better. Some side effect will be gone. But I'm not counting on it. I just hope each day that things won't get worse.

And I tell myself that no matter how each day goes — I win, the cancer wins, or it's a draw — I can get through it for another day.

About