[Editor’s Note:  Eleanor is my daughter and is one of the reasons why I love working for and with Patient Power.  When you tell your stories, we are right there beside you, nodding our heads in complete understanding].

I am a uterine cancer survivor. Every month I go in for 90 hormone shots to help regulate my body's own hormone production imbalances. I also have routine check-ups every 3-4 months to search for any traces of recurring cancer. At my most recent check-up, I was told that because of the BRCA1 gene mutation I have, in combination with the style of radiation I underwent (tomotherapy), I have an increased risk of breast and colon cancer, a 73 percent increased risk to be exact. This doesn't mean I have a "second cancer", (that's what they call it,) but it does mean that my routine visits every 3 to 4 months are now back down to routine visits every 4 to 6 weeks.

I guess I should be happy, if not even ecstatic...I'm still alive, I didn't lose all my hair, or end up with a feeding tube from radiation damage. A lot of things could've gone really wrong between my cancer diagnosis and now, but nothing has yet. It's just hard to stay positive all the time and not be fearful of things you yourself would probably convince your children of being irrational: like visiting the doctor's office, or getting sucked down the bathtub drain.

I am fearful of walking into each appointment and not knowing the outcome...will this be the time my cancer returns?



It's a daunting feeling to have looming over me...but I allow it, because feeling something is better than the numbness I feel when I completely shut down from the world and let the fear of cancer invade my thoughts. I haven't quite figured out why I let such an intangible and irrational fear cloud my mind and persuade my actions. I could say it's weakness and that I just choose to see the negative in everything...and how could I not? I've seen the bad things that can happen. They happened to me.

But instead, I'd rather try and explain it as a strength that comes from when I am at my weakest point. I handle my fears by emotionally breaking down and having completely vulnerable moments; allowing myself to vent, release my emotions, and share them with others. I am not always good at this, in fact, I am horrible at doing this. But when I do get the strength to be vulnerable, I become less fearful, more confident and slightly more prepared for what I face ahead. It's something I need a lot of practice in doing to help me cope with life after cancer.

They say once the cancer is gone and I'm in remission, that I've won the battle. But it doesn't always feel like that when my body is still undergoing attacks (metaphorically speaking), because every morning I have to choose if I am going to be strong enough both physically and mentally to put on my armor and take on the symptoms, hormonal side effects, and pain for the day. I don't really have the choice though, but sometimes it feels nice thinking that I do. But the choice I do have is whether or not I am going to let it ruin my day. That is where my struggle lies. 

eleanor2Getting strength from experience,

Eleanor Campbell

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