For me, there were two main things that are still fresh. I think too many people think “oh, it’s just a breast” but really it’s not about the breast; it’s about everything - it’s about coming to terms with the very real possibility that this cancer might take our very lives much sooner than we’re ready to go and all the implications of that. Also, I think people don’t think of the residual effects after treatment: the tiredness, the “chemo-brain”, the emotional adjustments. And, has this happened to anyone else? My teenagers are noticing that I seem mad all the time. I’ve noticed in myself that I don’t laugh as easily as I used to. Did chemo kill my laugh-cells as well?
I think they do not realize what you go through emotionally between the day you learn you have cancer and the day you learn a treatment (either chemo or radiation) will give you X% chances of making it, that you might survive. Women still die of breast cancer. So during the weeks and months you are waiting for the verdict, you not only meet death face to face, you get to the point where you accept that you are going to die. This has a major impact on your priorities and gives you a different view on everything and everybody.
Also, I think people do not realize how sick you become with the chemotherapy. On top of the numerous side effects, people do not realize how weak your immune system becomes with the low white cell count.
I think they don’t understand the fear you go through as a wife and mother. The fear of thinking “how will my husband & children cope?” Before my surgery , I found myself tidying up the address book, writing passwords down, so that he could pay the online bill Ect…I’ve been cleaning out closets and making memory boxes for my children (who are adults). It’s like I want to make sure all is in order in case I get too sick and they will be left with a mess….how silly eh? The fear of not knowing when this cancer will reappear ....I also think most people assume if women are having chemo, it must be Breast CA….well for me it’s Primary Peritoneal CA…not the greatest prognosis ....the fear of not having enough time to accomplish what you want in life, that’s what most people don’t understand