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Inside the Mind of a Cancer Patient on Good Days and Bad Days

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I want to share with you what it’s like inside my mind sometimes.

On good days (like today): My mind is in a good place. My thoughts are happy and pleasant. On days like this, cancer is forgotten about. I have a thankful heart. I live my life as “normal” as possible on these days and truly enjoy it. That might consist of being busy and out and about, or it might mean enjoying the quiet of my room while reading and writing.

On bad days: Of course these are the most challenging. They come with many emotions, often mixed. They come with lots of frustration, too. These days are mentally exhausting. I am often irritable and hard to handle on these days as well. I am quick to snap at people without meaning to. I don’t know how I’m going to feel from day to day. When I don’t feel good, I find that I wonder what is next a lot… But often I find the next day is usually brighter.

So, what do we feel as cancer patients?

Anger and frustration because we get tired of pain and daily medication routines. They. Get. Old. Pain makes us angry because sometimes we don’t know the cause, and pain meds don’t always help.

Sadness and uncertainty because we do not know what tomorrow brings. Even so, we get up and make the best of every day. I personally experience the most sadness when I hear of someone passing from cancer. It shakes my core and boggles my mind for a few days, because one day… but it’s one day for everyone, and I believe all will be well through my faith. But, I will be 100 percent honest right now — I am not completely OK with that. Maybe because I am young. Maybe my faith is weak, I don’t know, but I pray for peace when that time comes.

Happiness, yep! We have good days. For some they are many, others very few. I am fortunate to have lots of good days. I make the best of each! Sometimes I spent them doing nothing, but most days I try to do something fun. When I am happy and feeling good, cancer is the farthest thing from my mind. I am so glad I am able to just live and not have cancer in the forefront. I consider that a blessing.

I hope that by writing this, it helps others understand that this is not just a physical battle, but a mental one, too. When I seem snappy, I do not always mean it. Often, my mood is affected by the pre-meds I get before chemo and the meds I take daily at home.

If you have a loved one who is a cancer patient as well, these are a few ways you can show support and love:

Be understanding. I know this is not easy, but it helps us when others try their best to understand some of what we deal with and why we may seem moody. I know for me there are many different things that affect my mood:

  • Pain: Pain makes me a grouch, especially when I can’t get comfortable.
  • Over-stimulation: I am naturally a nervous person. When I am around a lot of people/commotion for an extended period, it can make me anxious or irritable.
  • The way someone else is feeling: I feed off the energy and feelings around me. If someone else is not feeling good or is in a bad mood, chances are I may be, too.

Give space. This is a big one for me. Over the last year, I’ve come to love peace and quiet. If I wake up in a bad mood, I often stay to myself so I don’t hurt other people’s feelings by saying something harsh. It is also when I write and study my Bible. So if you come to visit, do not be alarmed if I’m in my room. It’s often just where I want to be!

Listen. I think this is important for all cancer patients. There is a lot going through our minds, a lot of twists and turns. And sometimes it helps to talk out the things going through our minds. We/I do not expect others to understand everything  just knowing someone cares to hear us out is huge!

Make time for us. Spend time with me while I am well and able to do things. I would rather make memories now as opposed to when I do not feel well.

Know that we have different experiences. Please understand that just because someone has cancer does not mean they always lose their hair or look thin and frail.

Please don’t try to heal and/or cure me with an article you read online or something so-and-so said they did. I/we deal with enough without having more thrown at us from every possible direction. We are doing what works for us and are often researching options. We understand you’re trying to help, but when you toss things at us, it may make us second-guess things, and that is not always good. If we feel the need for more information or another opinion, we will take the steps to get that information. For most of us, we trust the doctor whose care we are in.

Just treat us like you always have! This is the first thing I told my mother when I was diagnosed. I do not want cancer to consume our lives, and I am glad to say it hasn’t. Sure, I am a bit spoiled — not really, just incredibly loved!

Follow this journey on Makin’ It Crystal Clear.

Originally published: August 1, 2016
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