After treatment ends, real healing begins

I have written many times of my belief that the real healing work of cancer begins after treatment ends. Cancer strikes a severe blow at our sense of self and our sense of past, present and future. The apparent randomness of a cancer diagnosis shakes our sense of identity to its very core and nothing will ever feel certain again.  I came across the following post on Kathy-Ellen Kups’ Life with Breast Cancer blog which perfectly captures this phase of our recovery:

“Healing is a process. When breast cancer assaults our bodies and our lives it is as great an impact personally as Hurricane Katrina was to New Orleans, or the volcano that recently hit Italy is to that nation. Breast cancer affects our lives to that degree. Even though the hurricane is long gone and much of the area is cleaned up and rebuilt, New Orleans is still healing and coming to grips with the change that was wrought. Pretending an impact like breast cancer is only a blip on our life chart is like walking away from the devastation of a disaster and saying “oh well.” Sadly, for most survivors of breast cancer this is what happens. We think we don’t have a choice. Our family is busy, our job is demanding and life goes on. So years later we may battle depression, our bodies may not be as strong as we need them to be, and we struggle with emotional swings. I call these symptoms under the wounds. The scars have healed, but we have not yet fully healed from our battle. Even victors get wounded in the battle; we need time and reflection to heal when the battle is over.”

It is a beautifully written piece which I know will resonate with many of you too.