Transition to Cancer Survivor

This morning I read an excellent post on the transition from patient to survivor ( How do we go about our lives during/after a bout with cancer?

Nancy's post prompted me to review what I wrote in Fine Black Lines and I'd like to share that with you. Be sure to read Nancy first!

"Several years later, thinking that I had always handled my cancer well, I reread my diaries, absolutely shocked by how much my present perception of what I had experienced differed from what I had written at the time.

"And I realized how similar I was to the women who join our support group hoping to learn how to deal with their newly diagnosed cancer. How arrogant of me to think they should be where I am now. How essential it is that each woman ultimately find her own way. How important it is that I tell my story as it really happened, not as time has softened it in my memory.

"And yet, as some come with their terror, I see myself and others shrinking from recalling our early horror, trying to convince ourselves we were different from them.

"And when others come with a strong sense of denial and a most determined bravery, I feel great sadness–seeing the cloak of innocence they wrap so carefully around them, unaware how much it has already frayed."

(Excerpted from FIne Black Lines: Reflections on Facing Cancer, Fear and Loneliness, Copyright 2003, Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad. See





karen sutherland 10-08-2014, 13:29

dear Lois,

thank you for sharing the part of your story, looking in retrospect what you wrote in your diaries after reading Quivervoice’s post. sometimes it is so hard to handle the mixture of what other people’s expectations are along with what we feel most deeply in our hearts. and sometimes, with wanting so badly to have a hopeful outlook, even our own responses get skewed. I, too, look back and see I used my writing to move my horror to a place of confidence and being more up-beat – but it sure wasn’t the truth of what I was really feeling. I think it’s part self-preservation and part denial. all we can do is be there for one another, and as QV said, provide validation for where ever we are in the process – doing the best we are able, and doing it in our own way, in our own time -exactly the right way.

much love,

Karen xoxo

Lois Hjelmstad 11-08-2014, 16:34

Thanks, Karen. In many ways, it is good that we forget some of what we experience. At least, one can hope that time will soften the edges of horror and grief. Love you, Lois


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