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Cancer is a horrible disease and there are many different forms. Remission does not mean that your cancer is cured and that your body is the same as it was. This post is about my husband's battle with stage 4 Cancer.
I have posted about McFly's battle with a mental illness. What you don't know, is he is also in remission of Stage 4 Large Diffused B-Cell Non-Hopkin's Lymphoma (try saying that 3 times fast). Thankfully after living in the hospital for 2 and a half years, 1 round of radiation, 16 rounds of chemotherapy and then 4 rounds of maintenance chemotherapy he is considered in remission. Unfortunately, he will never be considered cured because of the type of cancer he has(d).
Some people think that remission means you are cured, that is not always the case. Depending on the type of Cancer you have you will always be considered in remission.
Chemotherapy is very toxic and does a lot of damage to your body. My daughter used to work at a hospital cleaning the patient rooms after a patient was discharged. If she had to clean a room that was used for chemotherapy, she had to gown up a special way, and the tubing etc had to be disposed of a certain way and into a certain trash can. Imagine what that does to one's body.
I met my husband when he was finishing up his maintenance chemo. I don't know what he was like before, I just know he is different physically, mentally, and emotionally. Everyone that has Cancer reacts differently to treatment and adjusting to the aftermath. It also depends on how severe your Cancer was. There are 4 stages, 4 being the most severe. We talked about this post and I'm creating it with his permission. He also helped to come up a long list of ways your body is different with Cancer remission.
Ways your body has changed when you are in Cancer Remission.
We came up with a long list of different ways he's different now. They can be added medical conditions, emotional changes, or physical symptoms.
Most people have daily pain. That pain is in your joints or muscles. His pain is literally in his bones. He talked to his oncologist about it and the doctor's response was “well I did beat the heck out of your bone marrow”. He sounds like a bowl of Rice Krispies when he stands up with the snap, crackle, and pop he makes. His entire body hurts daily.
Severe temperature changes cause more pain. He does better in the Summer than in the Winter. He has poor circulation and is constantly cold. His hands and feet feel like ice cubes most of the time, even in the summer. The weather also effects him. He can pretty much predict the weather down to the minute. For example, he'll tell me “It's going to rain in about 10 minutes” 10 minutes later, guess what? It's raining!
Lack of Energy
He is now medically disabled because of his Bipolar and his Cancer remission. We joke that his job now is a professional television watcher. It varies day to day but doing simple tasks takes a lot of out him. He can also nap like nobody's business.
Left with Congestive Heart Failure
This was actually how he was diagnosed with Cancer. He thought he had a cold that was in his chest he just couldn't get rid of. By the time he was diagnosed he was already in Stage 4 (never showed symptoms before) and they drained many units of fluid from around his heart. He now has a heart defibrillator, and a monitor in the house to track his heart rate.
He can get lightheaded very easily, especially if he gets up quickly or bends over. When he bends over the blood will rush to his head and his face gets red. When he stands back up, he has to hold onto the wall because he's dizzy while his body readjusts.
Loss of overall strength
Before he got sick, he was a contractor. Now, he can do small side jobs from time to time but unable to work full time. He gets out of breath easily (Probably from his heart) and can't carry/lift as much as he used to.
He has watched friend's he's met in treatment pass away from their Cancer. He has survivor's guilt because he's in Cancer remission and was single with no kids while battling his Cancer. Friend's he's met in treatment were married, and had kids but did not make it.
Mad about lost time in his life
Like I mentioned before, he pretty much lived in the hospital for 2 and a half years. He hates that he lost that much time of his life. He's 42 now and was only in his early 30's when he got sick.
Lack of understanding from loved ones
This one is huge as I have witnessed this. There are friends he's had for years that he considered family. They don't like to listen to him go on and on about surviving Cancer and how he's not the same. They think because he's in Cancer Remission he should just move on and forget about it. Some have actually said to him that he's just milking it for attention.
Lack of concentration
He has mental fog a lot. If he's in more pain than usual that day, it's worse. His body is so busy fighting itself or trying to keep him alive with a bad heart that he just can't concentrate well. I have to repeat things for him often. It gets annoying but I'd rather him be alive and have to repeat myself.
Lack of appetite/no sense of taste
He lost his sense of taste from all of the chemotherapy he had. They had hoped it would have returned by now but it has not. We go through a lot of hot sauce because it puts it on EVERYTHING to try and get some sense of taste of what he's eating. He eats off of memory and texture. Most people love their crockpots for cooking. I actually got rid of ours because he hated food cooked in it. To him, it was all mushy. Instead, we have an instant pot.
Compressed Immune System
We actually dread the cold/flu season. In our house, it's called “McFly's Hibernation Mode”. His immune system is pretty much gone. He gets sick at the drop of a hat and very often. He gets sick all year long. If he gets worn out from basic life activity he tends to get sick. I mean things like leaving the house to go to the grocery store or his countless doctor's appointments.
We are sure there are more ways that his body is different since he's been in Cancer remission. Everyone is different. Some people go into remission and their body's recover just fine. Some like McFly are left with lasting effects. Not everyone ends up with congestive heart failure after all.
Has Cancer struck your family? I hope not, but if it has, listen to your loved one. Take how they say they feel serious. We don't know the toll it takes on someone to literally fit for your life.