Loss of optimism

At one support group meeting, someone mentioned that one thing they mourned was the ‘loss of innocence’ – more, it is the loss of the expectation that you will be healthy.

You see, before cancer, when I went to the doctor for a check-up, I expected that she would tell me that everything was OK. At worse, the doc might say that I could stand to lose a few pound (oh how I hate the BMI as measure of health – especially when physical fitness level not taken into consideration). In general though, I did not go into the appointment with any expectation that something would be wrong.

Now, when I go to see the doctor – even for routine checkups – I’m always afraid there will be something wrong. I am terrified (sometimes for days) that the doctor will find something. That the something will be yet another side effect of cancer, or worse yet, cancer again. I’ve totally lost that sense of things are going to be fine – that the outcome of the appointment wont be something serious.

So, I mourn the loss of the expectation that things will be fine. Instead, I go into the appointment all stressed out, waiting for the next shoe to drop. When the appointment is over, and I’m declared healthy, I take a deep breath and sigh in relief. I so want that sense of innocence back – the sense of optimism rather than the sense of brokenness.

  • Becky


  • I hadn’t thought of that until you wrote it, and then I realized that it is def true of people I know who have had cancer and esp if they’ve had relapses. It does sound like a loss of something and a gaining of an extra anxiety,,, i wonder if survivors ever lose it?

    Re BMI, i hate it, too. I am not overweight but not too thin and when I am most fit and exercise a lot, my weight gets beyond the ideal BMI, which is ridiculous. I am more fit and healthy than usual yet the BMI says i need to lose some weight. Go figure.

  • Rebecca, it’s rough to be damaged goods but brings with it resilience you don’t get from being unchallenged. No on one wants to be pushed around but we push back anyway–regardless of the weights we carry.

    Today (March 26) I went for my last chemo with a whole list of complaints about my care. Sad, sad me:-( Then the doctor said as a gift for completing she would leave out the Oxaliplatin which has the worst side effects. Just feeling a little less bad I feel fabulous and grateful. Enough anyway to look at problem that I create for myself like knowing triggers that make me irrational. I didn’t ask for them but there they are weakening me and I need to stop reacting as if the control was completely out of my hands.

    This sounds like a lecture to someone who is stronger than she feels today.

    On the dark humor side it is now part of the Christmas table reminiscence list in our family to mention, “Remember that we had pizza when Dad was in a coma–was that good or what?” Things are more intense and less serious at the same time now.

    On BMI, the strongest life guards and Aquacise instructors were Leslie and her core staff that were all robust women and not to be fooled with. If you notice the svelte athletic types always have super expensive equipment and train like crazy. Mutants.

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