Image taken from my journal after the Pink Party, 2014

“Surviving……..Pink Party 2014″~East Greenwich Bridals

What is my definition of “whiplash”, as a Registered Nurse?  Whiplash is an injury to the neck that is caused by a sudden backward movement of the head. As a cancer survivor, I experienced the “whiplash” effect this weekend after talking to another cancer survivor that I had just met.  Her name was Kristen.  Kristen was finally finished with chemotherapy.  She was a beautiful, smart woman who had her wigs to change with the outfits that she was modeling like many of the women modelling at the Pink Party fundraiser.  But, underneath the makeup and the wigs and the pretty outfits was that all-to-familiar pain. We spoke with tears in our eyes, about the ride from diagnosis to the last treatment, and how scary it is when it is all over.

I know it is hard for those of you that have not experienced it personally to understand what that means, but let me explain the fear involved with “surviving”. During treatments, there is unconditional support. Family, friends, treatment team, and even strangers stop to talk to you, to give you courage and strength to persevere when there are times of the day that you truly don’t know if you can keep doing this anymore. The image that you see looking back in the mirror of being bald and frail and knowing that those around you that see it too. You go into “robot mode” I guess I can call it – where emotions are limited because you are in shock from everything that is happening and how quickly life as you once new it was changing.

You develop a special bond with your chemo nurse.  You are truly sad if they take a day off or vacation. You develop a bond with the women that sit in the waiting area waiting for radiation with you. Your doctors, your family, friends are all supporting your recovery. And then it is over. Hopefully you are in remission. You get dressed for the last time, grab your keys, and drive away……ALONE.

Here is what you might be feeling.  As your hair starts to grow back and you begin to appear more normal, the disease to others around you fades. Your support from your treatment team, family, and friends fade. You return to the world as it once was, but it will never be as it once was again. For me, this is when the emotional pain started to set in. I rarely write about it, because we are supposed to be strong and happy that we are alive. Living is complicated…cancer is concrete. I have come to believe in the simple things in life. An intimacy with the spirituality of what is important.

When the heart weeps for what it has lost,
the soul laughs for what it has found.

~ Sufi aphorism ~

And that no amount of money can buy.

Respectfully as always,

Monique Pichette MSN, RN
Patient Outreach Coordinator
Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center