- 1 – Several months pass before the diagnosis
- 2 – His entourage helps him to overcome this ordeal.
- 3 – Exhausting treatment… and equally exhausting side effects
- 4 – Alternative medicine: a boost to support treatment
- 5 – It is for her son and his family that she finds the strength to fight
- 6 – Post-cancer can be as difficult as the disease
Accustomed to digestive problems, Elizabeth* never imagined that one day she would be told she had cancer. But in 2014, the life of this single mother, public servant, changes.
“I was very tiredI was suffering from intestinal disorders and D’urinary infections repeatedly,” she recalls. “But I never would have thought it was so serious, since I often suffered from intestinal upset”.
Several months pass before the diagnosis
During this period, Elisabeth continues to visit the doctor. He first thinks of the uterus or to ovaries, but they seem healthy. Likewise, the results of blood test do not indicate anything alarming. “I was lucky that the doctor listen to medespite everything, and continues to seek the origin of the problem”, she confides.
Over the course of the exams, she ends up discovering the origin of her illness. “They had to make me a colonoscopy. But the endoscope couldn’t go through, because my intestines were clogged with a tumor”. If the doctors were unaware, at that time, of the cancerous nature of this one, for Elisabeth, there is no doubt: she knows. Even though waiting confirmation is difficult. A few days later, she was told that she was suffering from a Colon Cancer.
Between the onset of symptoms and diagnosis, approximately six months have elapsed, thus delaying the management of the disease. “We don’t listen to each other well, we are taken up with work, family life…”, explains the forties. “Making appointments, the time between each consultation also takes time”.
*Name has been changed.
His entourage helps him to overcome this ordeal.
For Elisabeth, the diagnosis is a shock. “The doctor immediately put me under painkillers, it helped me a lot,” she says. “Then everything is going very quickwe don’t have time to think”.
On the side of his relatives, the reactions are mixed, but the patient is lucky to be well surrounded. “Several people have been very present for me, like my parents and my brother. While others have been totally in the denial”.
As for his son, who was 13 at the time, she still does not know how her illness may have affected her. “At one point, I thought he needed to talk about it, because he didn’t confide in me. So I took him, with his agreement, to see a psychotherapist. To this day it is still worried when I go to the hospital, he immediately asks me why. But from what he tells me, the only memory what he has from this period is that I was in bed all the time”.
Elisabeth also considers herself lucky not to have never summer only. “My father accompanied me to each chemo,” she says. During the treatment, she moved in with her parents with her son. This allows him to to rest, and to recover between each chemotherapy. “I had no logistics to manage, such as shopping, cleaning or cooking”.
Exhausting treatment… and equally exhausting side effects
Shortly after the diagnosis, Elisabeth is operate, in order to have the tumor removed. He is then asked a percutaneous implantable port (CIP), a small box connected to a catheter. This allows to inject intravenous chemotherapy drugs, and remains in place for the duration of the treatment. “Every time I undressed and saw her, my head was spinning,” she says.
A month later, chemotherapy begins, at a rate of twelve sessions, at fortnightly intervals each. “This stage was very difficult. We hope that the treatment will be of some use, because we suffers really. Especially since the sessions are very close together, and leave us little respite. We barely have time to digest the previous chemo that we already have to start again”.
The Side effects are also difficult to manage. “I was exhausted ; sometimes I couldn’t get out of bed for several days.” Elizabeth suffers from nausea very intense. “The smells were unbearable to me, my heart was always on the edge of my lips”. The treatments also cause him side effects in the ends and back (loss of sensitivity, pain).
Alternative medicine: a boost to support treatment
Living near Saint-Etienne, Elisabeth can benefit from alternative medicine proposed to Hygea center (Center for prevention, education and research on cancer), by the League against cancer. These allow him to reduce his back pain a little – or at least, to better manage it on a daily basis.
“I had the chance to meet the doctor in charge of this centre. He advised me to practice physical activities as well as meditation mindfulness”. Elisabeth then benefits from 10 sessions, financed by the League against cancer.
Enthused by this practice, Elisabeth wants to continue after these sessions. In agreement with two other members, a association is created: Let’s meditate Zen’Semble. It offers meditation sessions open to all, in Saint-Etienne and Villars.
Elisabeth will also see a magnetizer, to help her manage her colon cancer treatment. “When you are sick, you should not hesitate to open up”, she specifies. Open up to others, but also show open-mindedness – especially in the face of any alternative medicine that may be offered to you, and the structures that exist. “They can beautify a time of day, give us a little of hope”.
Especially since we can sometimes feel isolated. “Disease makes us only, even if you are surrounded by doctors or family. We are alone in this situation, we cannot necessarily say everything, and the others cannot imagine what we are going through, even if they support us”, she explains.
“But above all, we must not to reclose on oneself. Talking with other patients, as I was able to do in my meditation group, can help. We see that they are faced with the same problems that we”. According to her, it is necessary to Steps to go to the others, because the latter may not come of themselves.
It is for her son and his family that she finds the strength to fight
If Elisabeth never gave up, in her fight against cancer, it is largely for his son and his family. “I had to fight for him, I couldn’t leave him”. It is also because the doctors have always been very positive towards him.
She also says she was lucky not to lose all of her hair, a common side effect of chemo that is often difficult for a woman to accept. This has a psychological resonance, insofar as it impacts the femininity in its very essence.
Despite her strength, Elisabeth experienced ups and downs during her illness. “I suffered from pain in the liver and at pancreas during chemo. The doctors believed that the tumor had propagated to these organs”. Eventually, they end up discovering that these pains are side effects of chemotherapy, and not a resurgence of cancer.
“Even if we get used to waiting, waiting results is always difficult”, emphasizes the patient. He is also made blood test regularly to find out how she is reacting to chemo, which can lead to treatments supplements – “like injections to boost white blood cells, for example”.
“Sometimes you want to give up. But the doctors are always there to remind us of appointments. Our life becomes very rhythmic during the treatment, and it is sometimes getting out of this rhythm that is hard”.
Post-cancer can be as difficult as the disease
The return to the normal life is sometimes as difficult as the fight against cancer. For Elisabeth, the resumption of work, part-time therapy at first, was complicated. “I needed it, to resume a normal life, but there is the fatigue to manage, as well as colleagues”. the lack of empathy of her colleagues has marked her. “I was told bluntly ‘it’s good, it’s over, you have to move on’. My superiors also refused to grant me leave leave ; I always had to justify myself”.
The motivation also fails her, because she no longer finds meaning in her work. “After cancer, you want to to profit from of life differently. These last two years have allowed me to find myself, to know what I really wanted”. What would make her happy? “No longer working in my field of activity, and bringing welfare to people”. A satisfaction that she already finds, in part, in her association.
On the plan personal also, his colon cancer had an impact. “With my son, we got closer, but we still had difficult times”.
This event will have enabled the forty-year-old to do some sorting in his friends. “Of course, everyone perceives the disease in their own way. We can be uncomfortable dealing with cancer, and I totally respect that. This was the case with some of my friends, and I still see them, of course. On the other hand, other people were wickedhad unpleasant attitudes”… On these, she drew a line.
Today, Elizabeth is in remission. But she will always keep track of this colon cancer. “We think we are cured, because we are physically. But psychologically, no way. Cancer is part of us”.
Some side effects are still present. “I am tiredI have very Back ache and the nerves of my extremities are reached. So I often drop things and I no longer have sensitivity in my toes,” she explains. “So we have to keep fighting.”