There are two kinds of battle wounds, that I know of. There are the wounds we wear on our skin for the whole world to see. And then there are the hidden wounds, the scars that are on the inside. It is the second type of battle wounds I am going to discuss in this post.
Unless you have experienced Cancer there is absolutely no way you can see the hidden battle wounds that it inflicts on its victims. One may be able to see its outlines in the form of a loved ones tears, anger or frustration but that is just the surface. I think these hidden battle wounds have caused the majority of my suffering. Cancer ripped its way through my life reeking havoc on my body and mind. At first my only focus was on my outer wounds. I was so self conscious of visible battle wounds, scars, radiation tattoos, sunken in eyes, blisters, radiation burn etc…I, along with my doctors, worked hard to heal all of these wounds. I was given medication, lotions, food etc…As time went on these wounds healed and I began a long journey of recovery.
It was after my treatments ended that I began to notice the other battle wounds. I had no idea what to expect, why I was feeling the way I was or how to deal with it. This is the moment I began to feel totally and utterly alone. Was I the only person who felt this way? Was I going to go the rest of my life holding onto these wounds, separating myself from the rest of the world more and more each year? Talking to family and friends just made my wounds grow deeper.
People tried to relate, listen and provide me with what I needed but that was impossible. They didn’t have cancer; they couldn’t see what it had done to me beneath my exterior. I am speaking both physical and emotional. The hidden physical wounds were many. Friends and family could only understand what they were seeing, “you look good”. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that, as if by saying it somehow they would make it true. I did NOT feel good. The radiation had burned my organs. Digesting food was horribly painful, making me afraid to eat. I had to pee almost constantly and every time I did the pain was, and still is, blinding. Every time I had sex it was/is painful and I bled. For a long period of time I had no taste buds or sense of when I was suppose to be full or hungry. My vision was blurry, I suffer from hot flashes, cramping, bleeding and anxiety. These are only a few of the hidden physical wounds Cancer left me with.
There are also the hidden emotional wounds. The loss of self, anxiety of the future, fear of the unknown and absolutely terrifying reality that it could come back! These are only a few of the emotional wounds I deal with every day. As I have said in earlier posts I was not dating anyone and had no kids when I got sick. Who would want to date me, never mind marry, when I couldn’t have kids? Who would want to take on the responsibility of having to help me on the bad days, and there are lots of those. And who would want to start dating someone who could get a PET scan that said they were going to go through all that again? I couldn’t imagine, not in my wildest dreams, what person would willingly take on all those things.
I have an emotional wound named GUILT. What I put my family and friends through. How much I changed their lives. My family had to sacrifice so much, they still do. Everyone around me was scared, frustrated, mad, sad, stressed, the list goes on and on. I changed all their lives so much. And I didn’t change their lives for a day, week, month or even a year. I changed them for life. I stole a piece of their innocence and there is nothing I can think of that could ever make up for what I took.
I kicked Cancer’s Ass but it also did a doozy on me! If you are a supporter please understand that just because the cancer appears to be gone it is always a part of our lives.
Cancer has helped shape the woman I am now and because of that it will always be a part of my life. My wounds may begin to heal but they will never be totally gone. We need you to not forget, not try to pretend like it never happened and to accept that while we may look good there are still daily battles we fight.