I think back to the start of my breast cancer experience five years ago. The struggle to just survive the toxic treatments, multiple surgeries, blood transfusions, and complications post-treatment makes me wonder why am I still here? I was initially filled with such hope once I was officially declared as no evidence of disease – I refuse to say cancer free.
I am now infertile and in medically induced menopause well before my time.
I have fibromyalgia.
I have neuropathy in my hands and feet.
I have a bulging disc and slight tear near the nerve in my back.
And I discovered in January I have two benign lesions on my spine that need to be monitored.
I get so angry when I hear the following comments:
- “Just be grateful you’re alive.”
- “Cancer doesn’t define you.”
- “Be happy you’re single.”
As I listened to various cancer conferences this month, the bulk of the female presenters often begin their talks with how they fought cancer to be there for their kids. Do they ever think about how crushing that is to hear as a single cancer survivor? I don’t mean anyone who divorced during or after treatment. I’m talking about the survivors like me who were single at the start of diagnosis and still single post-cancer.
When I think about it, I honestly didn’t have much motivation to “fight” to survive my cancer treatments. The main reason I did was for my beloved mother and cat Nathan (Natey) Edgar. That’s it.
I am single.
I often feel very alone.
I’m an only child.
My life post-cancer still feels quite isolating.
I don’t have many local friends. I know a lot of people locally, and have many acquaintances, but there is only one who I talk to weekly and would hang out with once a month before the pandemic. The bulk of my friends are out of state and in other counties. Many of them are married with children, or they have a significant other. I don’t really know many single and childless people – male or female.
I always hear that I should just get out there and date. Any guy would be lucky to have me. Well, I would say that would be a true statement, but my color makes dating tough. That’s a whole other story for another day. Now that I am in menopause and in chronic pain 24/7 makes dating feel impossible. The only time my dating life was pretty active, and fun was when I lived in LA in my early to mid-20’s.
I’ve tried so many different medications, surgeries, and supplements to help ease the pain, but nothing has fully worked effectively. What people don’t understand about fibromyalgia is being touched can cause horrific pain. It makes sleep difficult. It makes exercising difficult. It makes simply existing difficult. Then add permanent neuropathy in my feet makes walking difficult.
When I did try dating a little a year post-cancer, I remember one guy asked why I was walking so stiffly. I thought I could hide how painful it can be to even step onto a sidewalk or go up steps. I didn’t bother saying it’s due to cancer. Instead, I said I was sore from working out earlier that day.
How can I even think of dating when I literally cannot hide the physical pain?
Are there any single and childless cancer survivors who are also only children? It’s like lonely, on top lonely, on top of lonely. This is the one time being the only one isn’t an advantage.
Until next time,
8 thoughts on “Layered Loneliness”
This gives me so many feels! I’m not an only child but I was single before, during, and after cancer. Like yourself I am infertile and in induced medical menopause and thinking about dating is just sort of another thing I can’t be bothered with after cancer, to much baggage for me. And I get so upset to when others talk about surviving for their kids or significant others. I think that is why this speaks to me, it makes me feel less alone knowing someone else feels the same way I do. Thank you for sharing!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I was scared to post this but just needed to. Relieved I’m not totally alone. Married people just do not get it. Thank YOU for commenting. Gentle hugs.
Yes! Single, childless, only child. Post menopausal, 3 time survivor. Local acquaintances, far away friends. One closer local friend who is married with a kid. Mostly know people from work. Constant pains from various things. All of it the same as you except I’m White and 46. I hear you, feel you, know you. Keep sharing. It helps others too! Xx
You are NOT alone! I often feel the same way too. I was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at 16 (lost one ovary and fallopian tube) – Only child – have had 3 surgeries before 30 and struggled with body positivity all my life. So many different thoughts and emotions to work through and finding someone trustworthy that will genuinely want to participate in this journey has not been successful as of yet. Post-treatment I still have the neuropathy, pain from nerve damage and scar tissue, rheumatoid arthritis, & benign adenoma that’s being “monitored”. I’ve never been big on marriage and there are certain fears I have when it comes to becoming a parent.
Most people my age cant relate to what I’ve been through and friendships have either ended or dissipated. There is solace in being alone but I’ll admit it would be nice to find someone whose presence felt better than my solitude.
I’m so glad you went ahead and wrote this post. It’s an important topic. I like to think as a married person I still can get it, but maybe it’s more that I can empathize. The comments made by those conference presenters should’ve been more thoughtful as audiences in that setting are by nature diverse. They can still tell their stories, but just in a more thoughtful way. I know another friend and fellow blogger who has mentioned a few times how hurtful things like that have been said to her too. She is also single and has no children, nor does she desire to have any.
I kid you not, I have actually had a doctor say to me, ‘well, at least you’re alive’, when I was trying to explain about some nasty long-term side effects. He did not get it. At all. I wanted to slap him. So yeah, hearing that sort of comment is awful.
I hope it helps at least a little knowing you have all these friends “out there” who care about you. Thanks for the post. Keep writing. x
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you so much for the support, Nancy. I’m glad you told me about your friend and fellow blogger. It makes me feel less alone. I had always wanted children but had convinced myself I didn’t after I turned 35 since I was still single. The grief I continue to experience after being medically induced into menopause surprised me. It was only then I realized how much I wanted to have some sort of physical legacy. It ends with me. It’s often difficult to cope with knowing that. BIG HUGS!