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A Letter from the Darkness of Cancer Treatment

Recently, I came across some things I wrote during cancer treatment. Writing was not something I initially wanted to do; it felt like an additional burden when everything else was already too much. However, my husband encouraged me a couple of times to write letters to my future self, believing it might help release some of the heavy emotions I carried.


This particular letter I wrote during my treatment was supposed to be a cathartic exercise, but the rawness of my feelings surprised everyone, including myself. I didn’t anticipate feeling so hopeless, and it was a wake-up call for my family, who hadn't realized the extent of my suffering. Shortly after penning those thoughts, we sought help from the Behavioral Medicine team at the Moffitt Cancer Center. This intervention was crucial, as I wasn’t necessarily suicidal, but I felt an overwhelming desire to escape the pain, to be “unalive.”


Here is my letter in full, unedited.


A letter I wrote to my future self during cancer treatment

I hate this. I hate feeling like this. So much hurt, despair, loneliness, sadness. Why? Why me? I am so weak and can’t make decisions. I can’t work & can’t laugh. I hate the hospital. I hate the appointments, the needles, the chemo, the bloodwork, the lab results. I hate eating and thinking about what to eat. I hate that the first month I felt differently and now I am so miserable. I hate that Nelson has to go to work. I hate having to depend on others. I want to sleep all the time. I don’t feel connected to the things I enjoyed and love—Scooter (our dog at the time). I miss talking about other things. I hate thinking about it. I can’t rest because my mind thinks about everything. I hate waking up in the morning. I feel so lost and hopeless & can’t tell if God is close to me. I want his peace and his presence. I want to have joy through this. The other part wants to die so I can have that peace. I want Jesus to come now. I don’t want to endure this. I want a miracle. I need a miracle. I want to live a “normal” life again. I want to rest in God’s arms. I don’t want to go through this. I want to seep through it all and want to be done. I want to sit with Nelson and just pass away.


Reading these words again, I am struck by the intensity of my emotions. The isolation, the constant physical discomfort, and the mental anguish were almost unbearable. The physical toll of chemo was evident not only in my body but in my very handwriting, which grew shakier and more labored as time went on.


Cancer treatment is often discussed in terms of the physical battle, but the mental health aspect is just as crucial. The feelings of hopelessness, the questioning of faith, and the desire for an end to suffering are common yet profoundly personal experiences.


One of the hardest parts was the loss of my former self—the vibrant person who could work, laugh, and enjoy life without the shadow of illness looming over everything. The grief over this loss was immense.


Three years later, as I reflect on this journey, I am filled with a mix of emotions. Gratitude for the support and love that surrounded me, sorrow for the pain endured, and a deep sense of resilience that I never knew I possessed. My story is not unique, yet it is uniquely mine, and sharing it is a step toward healing and connection with others who may be facing similar battles.


To anyone going through this: you are not alone. It's okay to feel lost, to question everything, and to seek help. If you are reading this and relate to any of the feelings I wrote down, if cancer treatment has put you in a darkness that you can't get out of, please contact your medical care team immediately.


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MtRainier
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Anyone who has been touched by cancer should know that they are not alone and that there are others who have experienced similar challenges.

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