Carry That Weight

After finding out I had cancer last summer, a lot of people told me that getting through treatment, while physically challenging, was actually the easy part. Many former cancer patients informed me that the hard part came after treatment. When there is no more end goal in mind and medical schedule to focus on. But rather, being thrust back into the real world after having just gone through a traumatic ordeal, and pretending like you’re happy to be back at it.

It wasn’t my intention to disappear from the blog for a couple weeks. But these days, writing is a lot more forced. The only reason to update was for all of you reading out there, and I felt I had little to benefit from it.

That’s not to say there’s been nothing to blog about. I’m still in the kitchen cooking up a storm and experimenting with new recipes. I’ve even made up a few of my own. I got my first infection since starting chemo – a tooth infection. I’m on penicillin right now and the excruciating pain in my lower-right wisdom tooth has thankfully subsided. I’m getting my wisdom teeth out next month. I would have done it sooner, but you’re not allowed to go to the dentist when on chemo.

I’ve heard from a lot of fellow cancer patients and their caretakers. People who have gone through the crazy roller coaster ride that is cancer. We share war stories and tell each other we’re doing the best we can. It helps, a lot. And keeps me coming back to blog in case I can reach another fellow patient out there.

Many months back, I said it was hard to go through an illness under a microscope, and I stand by that. Although I was quite vocal about my experience both on the blog and with the local media, I really just did it because I wanted people to know that cancer is not a death sentence. No matter what it looked like from the outside, I was not a poor sickly bald girl to look down upon. I was living with cancer, with my personality and sense of humour intact. Cancer takes a lot of things, but it doesn’t take away a person’s spirit.

As time goes on, I find myself wanting more and more privacy. I am still trying to deal with what I went through, and I just can’t yet bring myself to share it with such a large audience. I really don’t think there is a right or wrong way to go through cancer. But I also can’t sit here and blog about cookies and cupcakes like nothing ever happened.

The past two weeks since finding out that I am done with treatment have been both fantastic and terrifying. I was a rock while going through treatment and hardly ever shed a tear. Now I’m kind of an emotional mess and find myself getting set off by the slightest things. It’s like my body was in ‘fight mode’ for seven months and only now can I loosen my grip and take off the brave face I was putting on.

I’m writing this because I didn’t just want to disappear without an explanation. Despite the hardships, there are good things happening too. I’m going back to work. Eight hours a day, five days a week. It’s going to take every ounce of energy I have for a while. When I do find energy between working hours, I don’t want to spend it doing more typing at a computer. I want to be putting in face time with other people, reading books, knitting, or cooking. In my list of life priorities, blogging unfortunately has fallen to the bottom.

This is by no means a ‘goodbye forever’ post, but a ‘see you soon.’ See you when I get a better handle on things or if I have something in particular to share. If you don’t want to have to constantly check back, I encourage you to sign up for email subscription at the top of the page. That way when I post again it will go straight to your inbox. You can also RSS or join my Facebook page where I put up posts. I’m still on Twitter all the time and posting a gross amount of pictures of Buster on Instagram (as BalanceSusan).

So… see you soon. And don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!

Posted on February 18, 2012, in Cancer. Bookmark the permalink. 61 Comments.

  1. I am a subscriber from long ago … I am happy when you write … wishing you well .. and I will be here … :) my inbox is waiting … say hi to Buster for me :)

  2. Oh girl, take all the time you need! Recovery is all about doing whatever you need to get where you want and with working and everything you’re jumping back into, I don’t think anyone expects you to go out of your way to update us every two seconds….except on twitter…..I will be angry if you stop tweeting. hehe

  3. I wish you well, Susan. I’m so looking forward to future posts, but completely understand the need to take time off. Just start a tumblr page for Buster all right? Little dude is too cute to keep off the internets!

  4. I noticed your blog absence, but knew you were still on Twitter and wanted to respect your privacy. I love your writing, but am actually glad to hear you’re taking a break. When you go through anything traumatic, it can be such an emotional experience when you finally get to exhale, as you might not have even realized you were holding your breath in the first place. The great thing is you made it through. Now you can recover.

    Anyway, blogging is ALWAYS secondary and as you know, you don’t owe anying to anyone. I think it would be great for you to use writing as a release away from this cancer crap you’ve smashed–for recipes and your other creative sparks–but I understand that will take time. This is a ramble, but summary? Welcome back. You did it.

    • I love the image of holding your breath and then letting out an exhale – that’s exactly what it’s been like. Except with more sobbing ;) Thank you for sending that post to me today too. The part about not fixing things for other people really caught my attention. Now that I’m “healthy” (ha! I feel like crap!) people are asking more of me, or wanting me to do more for them, and I just can’t. I’ve got to look out for numero uno. Thanks Abby! xo

  5. Hi Susan, I can imagine that healing your mind and soul from the cancer experience is probably a different story than healing your body. You’ve been a trooper through the chemo part.

    Just don’t feel any pressure to fill any particular role right now or be an advocate for any past-cancer experience. It is always about you — what you have to say or also not have to say.

  6. Living always comes first. :) -Hugs- see you on the Twitters.

  7. “Cancer takes a lot of things, but it doesn’t take away a person’s spirit.” Yep — this is so true. I think what you are feeling and experiencing now makes perfect sense.

    When my mom died I took 3 months off of blogging and sharing my life and thoughts online. I didn’t know if I’d return to it, and when I felt a small desire to do so, I started a new blog where I could write about my new life. (It is very different from my old blog.) Just do things one day at a time. If you want to write and share things online, then do it — but if not, don’t. You don’t owe anything to anyone. :)

    Thinking of you and wishing you the best in your post-cancer journey.

    • Thank you Amy! That is kind of what I’m thinking – a few months at least and then maybe I’ll start to feel a desire to blog again. Maybe not in the same way. We’ll see!

  8. Hi Susan! I’ve been a long time subscriber and will see your posts when you are ready to blog again. I consider this just part of your recovery and I look forward to hearing more when you are ready. Enjoy life – it is a gift. :)

  9. While I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to experience cancer personally (and hope to never have that understanding), I do understand how the aftermath of a difficult experience can be more difficult than the experience itself. My Dad died two years ago after a seven-month-long illness, and I was stoic throughout the time he was sick, but nearly crumbled to pieces once it was over. It was easy to stay strong when there was a never-ending series of tests and doctor visits, but so much harder when there was nothing to do and I was expected to resume my previous life.

    Whatever you choose to do with the blog in the future, know that we have enjoyed sharing your journey this far and that we support your choice. And that we wish you many many happy and healthy decades in the future.

  10. Susan, as much as I will miss your posts, I am proud of you! You have overcome so much since I started reading your blog, from the break to having Lymphoma. You are in control of your destiny, as the past year and a half have proven this. Enjoy your life, live it to it’s fullest… I will be thinking of you and all the French-toasted items you may be eating. :)

    • I promise to Tweet any french toast adventures I have in the future. I was eyeing a chocolate dipped donut last weekend and contemplating giving it the french toast treatment…

  11. beautifully written. take time for yourself right now and we’ll hear from you when we hear from you!!!

  12. The beauty of Twitter is that you can bite-size your blogging. ;-) 140, 280, or 420 words a day will still keep your fans and followers nearby, and you’ll have plenty of time to work, play, and stay healthy!

  13. It’s crazy, just as you end your journey with lymphoma – I found out last night my husband’s uncle whom we are very close to was diagnosed with non-hodgkins mantle cell lymphoma. I did some research and found out is extremely rare & if not caught early doesn’t have a good prognosis. He’s had surgery to remove the tumor, but they are waiting to hear back if it’s spread. Your story definitely gave me hope, but it also worries me that because of his diagnosis he may not even get a chance to fight. I wish you the best of luck in returning to your normal life.

    • I’m sorry to hear that! I learned early on that you can’t give numbers too much credit. My prognosis was much lower than the widely accepted survival rates of Hodgkin’s because of my own personal factors. I was upset about it for a while until I realized that unless it’s 100% death, I can’t worry yet. Best wishes to your husband’s family!

  14. Susan,

    Do whatever it is you need to/want to do! Your time is yours and you know better than most that you should be spending it in the way that makes sense to you. Billions of hugs and hopes for a marvelous journey! Thanks for sharing your fantastic self!!

  15. Thank you for sharing your journey. I know you have helped many people. We share a first name and I hope I share your brave spirit. Best wishes always.

  16. I admire you doing what YOU need to do to fulfill yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Nearly all of us will ever know what that experience is like that you have been through…so bottom line: DO YO THANG.

    Love you! Let’s catch up soon :)


  17. i have such repect for you and your decisions friend. Cheers to living and i am thankful to have FB and Twitter to stay connected. We will be here, whenever you want to return or not.
    Live well!

  18. You have to do what’s best for you. You deserve to honor that after what you’ve been through. Best to you and hope to hear from you soon!

  19. I kept thinking about your post even after I responded earlier! One thing I meant to mention was that you may find that it’s just difficult for you to articulate what you’re going through now — or even that you just plain don’t WANT to. In my own “recovery” from difficult circumstances, I found this to be true. Sometimes it gets tiring to constantly be thinking about, talking about, and writing about what you’re going through when you really just want time to pass, but at the same time, you really CAN’T think or talk about anything else.

    So just let the time pass and see where it takes you. I’ll be thinking of you. :-)

    • YES! A million times yes! I have spent the past eight months going on and on about myself. Not just on the blog, but to my family, friends, staff at the hospital. It’s not all about sharing on the blog, but the way I had to give up my own privacy being a patient. You can lose your dignity pretty quickly. For once I just want to shut up and feel what I’m feeling without having to let everyone know about it. Thank you for understanding so well Amy :)

  20. Good luck back at work, its refreshing to have such honesty good for you. See ya soon x x x

  21. I would assume going back to “normal” life would be quite the adjustment. Totally get this post and glad you are wise enough to not feel like you have to post just to post. Love you so much!!!

  22. I loved reading all of the comments here, because so many of them share bits of similar experiences and the need to just step back and process. You are processing what you just went through, you fought through, you put your game face on and now? You need to process it and just live life in your new normal. I absolutely don’t think I’d have words to put to ‘virtual’ paper here, either. Hope to see you back at some point, and I’ll of course love to see you and cute as CUTE pics of Buster on Twitter. Have a great weekend!

  23. I understand where you’re coming from and completely understand the hiatus (though I’ll miss you!). Another thing I’ve come to understand – DOG LOVE. My family just got a puppy (3 month old black lab/border collie) and I am so in love with her. I’m not a dog person but I feel like one now. It’s amazing and makes me so happy. I understand how much Buster must have helped you =)

    Nicole G

  24. I love reading your posts and will miss them, however, I understand your need to make changes. Good for you for doing what YOU need to do. That is so important and can sometimes be a hard thing to do.

    All the best to you Susan as you embark on the next chapter of your life.

  25. I have also loved reading your posts but I do understand. You’re moving on with your life and I wish you happiness, good health and all the love in the world. Thank you for sharing your journey. You are very brave and I have no doubt your posts have helped a lot of people. Good luck and I will check back in on you from time to time! Hugs!

  26. Hope you find some peace and a happy balance as you move forward with your life. Healing takes time and energy, but it’s important to just go with the flow like you are already doing. Will check back to see how your doing. Stay well :)

  27. :) I totally get you, it’s your life and you have to do what you need to do. I will keep in touch via twitter :)

  28. I knew someone who developed Diabetes during pregnancy and I remember she later said something to me about wanting to get to the point where her illness was not even a topic of conversation anymore. She didn’t like that her illness had become the focus of her days and many of her conversations and personal thoughts — it became the center focus of her life and she wanted to get away from that focus. Her feelings made perfect sense to me at the time, and yours make sense to me also.
    Take care.

  29. My husband died unexpectedly like the actor John Ritter – aortic dissection. Think I know that space you’re in. I’m moving closer to family and have to figure out what will be part of my new life and what no longer fits or I’ll be moving all the wrong stuff. The creative process requires periods of solitude and being totally focused on what one is attempting to create.

  30. I love your writing, but I also just love your personality. I LOVE following you on Instagram. Quite frankly, thanks to Instagram, blogging has taken a back seat in my own world and I’m not even dealing with any sort of re-entry or emotional rollercoasters of any kind. Sometimes, it’s nice to just share little snippets of your life (and receive those from others) without having to take 838375 photos, edit them, write, rewrite, bla bla bla, or feel the need to ‘produce’ something to post. Given your talents, you might write something, somewhere in the future- whether its a blog (this one or a new one) is entirely up to you.

    I totally understand about being a rock during your treatment. There is something secure about having these appointments, tests, followups. (even if they can be highly unpleasant or scary) but they are a little goal- something to write in the calendar and do. Then all of a sudden there is this eery silence. It’s great. But weird.

    As long as I’ve been alive, I have noticed that I hold it together when things get tough and then the second the pressure is off, I get sick- my body just cries ‘uncle’. So I have absolutely no reason to believe there is a correlation, but I find it interesting that you got your infection after your treatment (and thank god you didn’t get it during!!)

    So enough rambling. My friend, please know that we all want you to do what is best for you. If that means we won’t see you around these parts as much, well, so be it. But we’ll be here just in case you change your mind :-) xxxxooooo

    But whatever you do, you can’t stop Instagramming because Sam, Ellie, Ace and I need our daily (hourly) dose of Buster (and you, of course) :-*P

  31. After the ordeal you’ve been through it’s completely understandable that you’d need time to adjust and settle into a more normal routine! I hope your transition back to working full time goes well and your energy continues to increase! Anytime you feel like like blogging I’ll be glad to read it but I think it’s great to take a break and get your balance back!

  32. Susan, I wish you lots of luck as you head back into the “real” world. I know you’re going to do just fine.
    I’m glad to hear you’re doing well and taking some time to focus on the things that matter to you. I’ve been following you for awhile and will miss your writing, but life is more important than blogging!

  33. Sad for us, THRILLED for you! Enjoy your break from blogging and I hope you are able to settle in to your new you — post-cancer and cancer-free. :) So happy you’re doing well but will definitely miss your posts. You’ve been a great, uplifting person to read. TAKE CARE!!

  34. Whew, thank goodness! All the best to you during this transition, Susan! Your poise and honesty will carry your far – looking forward to the next update, whenever it comes.

  35. Best wishes and thoughts for your recovery, Susan!

  36. You owe no explanation, it’s your life and you’re the one living it! Enjoy the fuck out of it, the internet will keep on ticking and will be here when you’re ready ;)

  37. As another cancer patient, I can say that your writing has helped me, so thank you! I completely understand your need for a break from constantly sharing. I hope your teeth feel better soon (ouch!) and you figure out and learn to enjoy your post-cancer life. I will be thinking of you often!

  38. Thanks for the update! Take all the time you need, we’ll be here when you’re ready :) I fully intend to french toast a croissant as soon as possible by the way, my parents and boyfriend fully support the idea so gotta make it happen! I’ll definitely be keeping up with you on facebook!

  39. You’ve shared so much for yourself during this journey and you’ve more than earned your break! :)

  40. Once again, as you have done so many times over the course of your illness, you’ve done a beautiful job of eloquently summing up what you’re going through right now. Enjoy this next phase of your journey! Wishing you health and happiness from Ontario :)

  41. Greetings and best wishes from Leslieville. Relax, live it up and enjoy just being you! I’ll miss your stories but look forward to seeing more ‘Adventures of Susan in Busterville’ through other channels. :)

  42. You are such an inspiration, Susan. Good luck with going back to work full time. Im sure it will be both rewarding and challenging!

  43. You’ve been so thoughtful to share your experience. You inspire! Much happiness for the future.

  44. We are all for you & I get what you said to us. Life can be too short!

  45. Fantastic news! You do what you have to do..See you soon!

  46. Hi Susan,

    A little while ago I did a story about life after cancer treatment. A young guy who had Hodgekin’s Lymphoma at 25 and became free and clear a year later is working with some doctors and has developed a website Its purpose is to give info to people after their treatment.

    Maybe something to check out?

  47. Good for you Susan. It will be a new challenge for you…I hope you don’t overdo!! I hope you can refocus quickly, life will certainly be different from when you last worked. I’ve worked with cancer survivors and find it a good experience for everyone to understand and to know we are all vulnerable. So I wish you well. It is a positive step.

    Best wishes on your next journey!


  48. I miss you Susan! It’s amazing how fast I grew attached to reading your blog. I think of you often and hope you are doing great! Can’t wait to hear from you again. Colleen

    • Thanks Colleen! I’m still enjoying my time off blogging and am using up all my spare minutes being back in the office full-time, getting ready to move in two weeks (!!) and hanging out with friends and family. I’ll be sure to pop in when things slow down, but still not sure if I will go back to blogging regularly. I’m quite keen on going back to a “regular” life, and being in the ‘eye of the internet’ is still a little too intense for me. Miss the interaction though! xo

  49. Hi there
    I just read your blog, and wanted to show you some support! I myself had been diagnOsed with a highly resistant cancer, and had to have a bone marrow transplant. I went through the whole process much the same way you have, only truly feeling the emotional roller coaster after the fact. I wanted to say not to worry, that you will slowly start to feel like yourself again, and that you will be an enlightened person for having gone through this :)
    I love that you are sending out the message that cancer is not a death sentence, because its not! And people really do need to know this, because it makes all the difference in the life of someone going through this, as well as to their family. So, bravo my friend!
    Love your recipes btw!

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