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Feeling Inconsequential

LI77 Member Posts: 68

I don't know if any of you feel this way, or if I'm just in a funk, or if I'm just a crazy person, but I'm feeling…inconsequential. I went to law school almost 20 years ago, and people I went to school with and worked with now have important jobs. Think federal appellate judge. And I have...MBC. I hated being a lawyer, and I left it to stay at home with my son. I thought that I still had time to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up; I thought that I still had time to go back to school for something that would make an impact on society, but also be something that I enjoyed doing. Now I'm not sure what I have time for. And I feel like I'm just inconsequential, unimportant, that I haven't made an impact at all, anywhere, and I never will. Some part of me thinks that maybe that was meant to happen, that I was meant to stay at home with my son so that we could have all of this time together, so that he would have good memories of me. At the same time, I wonder, did I waste my life? Am I wasting what I have left of it? I feel anxious, like I need to be doing something about this, but I also feel like I'm trapped in cement and I can't move. Maybe I just need a therapist. Does anyone else relate to this?


  • cookie54
    cookie54 Member Posts: 617

    li77 In my opinion you are doing the most important job ever, raising your son! Not one mom in this world would say that's not an important job. Yes, maybe that is what was meant to be for you and your son. Sounds to me like you are a very smart woman with a law degree that was smart enough to walk away and find happiness at home. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that!

    That is not wasting your life at all. If you feel you need to fill a void in your life explore maybe hobbies or part-time work of some type? Therapist may be a good idea also. I understand feeling stuck .Sometimes I feel like well what's the difference, will I be here next year or in five years. It stinks but try to take each day as a new slate. Make a plan for each day, even if it's a plan to walk in the park or go for a coffee. Do what makes you happy! We all make a difference in this world to many people and don't even realize it. You are making a difference in your son's life. I hope you find peace with this, best wishes and hugs.

  • LI77
    LI77 Member Posts: 68

    Cookie54, thank you. I do also believe that being a parent is one of the most important jobs to have.

    Maybe because I've made my family the focus of my life, it kills me that I won't be there for them. Most people get to watch their kids grow up, graduate from high school, graduate from college, start a career, become an adult, find a partner, have kids. Most people get to retire with their partner and grow old together. I guess I'm feeling sorry for myself because I probably won't be there for my son when he starts to drive, when he graduates from high school and college, when life actually gets hard. I won't get to see him become an adult, and I won't get to have the kind of relationship with him that I have with my parents. It's a shitty position to be in.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,644


    Life is a trip, isn't it? I'm a great proponent of not looking backwards unless there is a lesson to be learned but I never beat myself up over what can't be undone. And let's face it, most of the past can't be undone!

    Comparing yourself to others is human but not very productive since you can only live your life as best as you can. What I'm trying to say is that I understand what you're feeling but remember, each of us has our own path to travel and no one knows what might lie ahead that cause our paths to change.

    Being a full time mom is no small feat though it is undervalued by our society. You may have read that I retired about a year ago. I was an elementary school teacher, a career I adored. Would it surprise you to know that after my first child, now 38, was born I stopped teaching and thought I hated it? I was teaching ELD (English language development) to high school students. When my children were in school I volunteered a lot and rediscovered my passion for education… elementary education! I had to go back to school for two years to change my credentials (I had a single subject from NY state but needed a multiple subject credential for elementary school in CA). I had not yet been dx'ed but it still wasn't easy yet worth every struggle in the end.

    Now, you're probably thinking that this is not possible with mbc. I won't sugar coat this as most mbc patients don't survive for 10+ years but you truly have no idea what the future holds. Save for 3 1/2 months medical leave, I worked with mbc for the last 10 years of my career. Again, I know the odds are against this type of survival but I didn't know that years ago. My point is that none of us know what the course of our disease will be. This same point applies toward raising your son. You have no idea how much time you will have. When I was dx'ed my younger dd was not married and I had no grandchildren. I was able to walk that daughter to the chuppah (canopy in Jewish weddings), and she now has two children. My older dd found out she was pregnant days after my bc dx. That little baby just turned 10.

    We never know what the future will bring so don't assume anything. I have seen stage IV members surviving longer. I have seen drugs like Ibrance, Verzenio, and Kisqali come to market. It's still not where I wish we could be with mbc but there is reason to hope.
    Your life has great value, don't sell yourself short.

    Caryn (former Woodlands homeowner!), bone met only, 11 years of living with mbc

  • finallyoverit
    finallyoverit Member Posts: 133

    li77~ I could have written your post - minus the son. Talk about feeling inconsequential. You are not alone.

  • sf-cakes
    sf-cakes Member Posts: 505

    li77, I, too, really resonated with your post. I have a doctorate and am still working, but my identity feels like it's been subsumed by MBC. My plans for the future? Out the window. Plans for retirement? Hahahahaha (I'm 52, so kind of unlikely.) I fear that I'll just be remembered as the cancer lady, so sad about her. Obviously I have no control over what people will and do think of me, and I don't care all that much... but there's so much more to my identity than MBC. Some days it can feel impossible to remember that though. Hugs to you.

  • chicagoan
    chicagoan Member Posts: 939

    li77-I can relate to your post-especially in the early years of my cancer. I am single with no children so the bulk of my identity and a big source of my self-esteem was my career. I was so sick I had to stop working (and I never would have believed that I'd be alive today and feeling great). At first it was so odd because I felt like people wrote me off in conversations once I didn't have a career. But one of the good things that has come out of my cancer process is that I realize I have so much value just being alive and human. I wish I had really known this years ago. I am probably happier than I've ever been in my whole life because I no longer feel the need to prove anything to anyone. I know that I am enough and both the small and large things I do make a difference in this world. As my self-esteem improved, so did my friendships. I now never feel inconsequential but I certainly did before. The tool that was most helpful to me is this book, "Cancer as a Turning Point" by Lawrence LeShan. There are many exercises to work through, either by yourself or with a therapist. It was a very healing process for me.

    I was really stressed out by my career in the year before my diagnosis and was not really enjoying it anymore. (I've had 3 careers in my life). But now I am able to work on a very limited basis-I am a pastor and frequently preach on Sundays at various churches and help them during times of transition. It's pure joy because I now don't take everything personally and don't have the heavy responsibility of my own congregation.

    I'm glad you have been able to spend time with your family and hope that you will have many more years. From what I have seen as a pastor, nothing is more important than good parenting. You are making a huge impact that will have ripples you can't even see. Thanks for starting this topic.

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,549

    Is this a result of the Super Thunder Moon or whatever its being called this month? :) I only ask because I had a major meltdown on Tuesday evening about almost the exact same questions and feelings :) MAJOR meltdown - first one in a long time, so big we had to shut the windows and doors in this heat so the neighbors couldn't hear me wailing.

    I dont have kids but to me learning and trying new things is very important and career is important too. Ive been frustrated for the last 5 years by things out of my control - health issues meaning I had to take a role I didn't really want, poor bosses and egotistical assholes (lots of them in my line of work) blocking promotions, getting started on finally moving into an area that would suit me better but then good ol cancer coming along and keeping me in role Ive hated for years now. Seeing people promoted ahead of me to run projects and initiatives I started and planned, or seeing friends promoted two or three levels where I really ought to be now. And then the questions - why are you still in this job? why aren't you chasing other roles in other companies? why aren't you... Well cause cancer, though no one knows that.

    I have a chance now, and a supportive boss finally, to pursue what I am really interested in and its not that far off from my experience. But I was considering the training, or looking at jobs and feeling like a dope that I didn't pursue this earlier, that I would never have enough to ever apply and no one would want me. Or the emotional and mental energy to start bridging that gap through projects at work and pushing pushing pushing - for what? Im so afraid I will get there and cancer will just take it away from me again. Or Ill never get there and will continue to be stuck and never feeling like I fulfilled my potential.

    What I realized was happening is I was getting REALLY far ahead of myself and projecting into the future which always causes a lot of anxiety. I had to remember to go back to the "every day is a new clean slate" thinking and focus on what I can do today to get to tomorrow, etc. Little things every day roll up into a lot. Today isnt tomorrow - what exists in treatments today will be different in a year, two years, four. We have no way of knowing which way our chip is going to go down the Plinko board so focusing on today's plans is almost always for the best.

    And that there IS a lot of freedom in cancer. I dont panic anymore about project timelines or worry about how people may be perceiving me in a meeting while Im presenting - nothing they say or do can ever be any worse than what Ive been through and I live every day. I do wish I could come to terms with feeling like part of my professional peer group - when you get incurable cancer at an age when everyone else is hitting career highs its so very hard to not want to go along with them too.

    What I would suggest about the cement and anxiety issue is to pursue something small that will give a sense of satisfaction and achievement in a relatively short timeline. For some people that is hobbies - I sign up to try something new every few months and even if I am crap at it well, at least I tried. If I am halfway good then I have something new to do and make that addresses some key interests. I've had to figure out an exercise program too because that helps calm my mind. Get some therapy too - that helped and I am considering getting a top up this summer with my therapist to deal with some of the issues above. And I try to remember to always run my own race and not worry about what others are doing (though its hard).

  • LI77
    LI77 Member Posts: 68

    I'm overwhelmed by all of the support; it's nice to be heard by people who actually get it. Thank you.

    Caryn, I appreciate your advice, your knowledge, and your willingness to help people that you don't know. I bet you were an amazing teacher. I hope that I will be here 10 years from now, with a 20-year-old son in college, helping terrified newbies realize that their lives are not over. Honestly, I try not to look backwards or compare myself to anyone, and I know that there's no telling what the future holds. It's hard to live in the moment!

    Finallyoverit, I am sending you virtual hugs. It's a shitty place to be, but it helps to know that we're not alone.

    Sf-cakes, it's certainly a mindfuck to be here in what is supposed to be the prime of our lives, no? I feel it too, like I'll be remembered as the sick mom, so sad.

    Chicagoan, I hope that I can get to that place that you're at, not feeling the need to prove anything to anyone must be so freeing. I'm working on it.

    Sondraf, Ha! Maybe it is the moon! That is awesome that you are finally able to pursue your interests with your career! I dealt with so much bullshit, and ended up leaving my career, but having a kid was a good excuse to leave. I hear you on living in the moment, and on how there is freedom in this shitshow of a diagnosis. And I do need to start back on an exercise program; I've been pretty sedentary since the fracture took me out back in February.


  • pesky904
    pesky904 Member Posts: 263

    Just logged in after a long time (and wow, I do not like the new forum interface at all, lol).

    Just want to thank you for posting this because it really spoke to me. Just before my diagnosis, my then husband of two decades vanished (drained bank accounts and took off to live with another woman). He lost our home and left me with nothing. I was lost and trying to figure out how to rebuild my whole life from the ground up. Had just gotten my footing and then, boom, cancer. I'm going to be 48 in a few weeks and have no idea what to do with my life. Now every day I feel the same as you, how much time do I have left and how can I use it and how do I make the right decisions because if I make the wrong decisions, I don't have the money or time to start over a third or fourth time...It's very, very anxiety producing. And no one IRL understands. I'm so sorry you feel the same way, but know that voicing it here gave me comfort that I'm not alone. Best of luck to you!

  • emac877
    emac877 Member Posts: 651

    I think your post speaks to a lot of us. Probably more so to those of us in that younger group of MBCers that had this happen at a point in our lives when we were either meeting career high points or deciding to chase different paths in life and assuming a timeline on that which was completely different from what we face now.

    I'm an ICU nurse, never married or had kids so my job has been a big part of my identity. I went to school with people who are now chasing graduate degrees or administrative pursuits and teaching roles or traveling. I'm still mostly where I was 5 years ago except that I now work part time because physically I just can't keep up the way I used to. I really had to stop comparing myself to their situations because our lives are very different and to keep comparing myself to what if's was really wrecking my mental health.

    I would agree with other posters here. I'm not a parent but I have to agree that any time invested in your son is hardly a wasted life. I would think that will be a lasting contribution, not just to his life but the world he will live in. I can empathize with the anxiety of feeling life is being wasted. I have that too. I feel like the days I need to slow down and rest are somehow wasted. There's a part of me that thinks maybe I should just go crazy and do all my bucket list items while I can but the practical part of my mind realizes that's not a wise thing either. I wish I had something smarter to say or advice to give you but I'm still figuring it all out myself. I just wanted to chime in and let you know you are not alone in this struggle. Sending you virtual hugs.

  • LI77
    LI77 Member Posts: 68

    Pesky904, best of luck to you as well! It's like the proverbial rug got pulled out from under us, and we're just trying to grab onto something before we crash to the ground.

    Emac877 (we're very close in age, I'm assuming you're 8/77, and I'm 7/77). It's definitely a strange stage of life that most people don't have to go through. It's good to know that we're not alone in this.

    To add to my current funk, I just learned that our good friends that we've been super close with for going on 15 years, our chosen family, are moving out of state soon. Our other best friends moved out of state in December, right before my diagnosis. I know that this is not what's happening, but I feel like I'm being left to die here because while they're moving on both literally and figuratively, I'm stuck. All of our family is also out of state.

  • amontro
    amontro Member Posts: 184

    li77 -

    I retired from working at 74 in 2016, in addition to continuous treatment every three weeks.

    Even though I deserved to retire due to age and mbc, I felt so guilty being home all day and seemingly doing nothing. Not having energy is also a factor in my situation and I learned to manage doing things especially early in the morning when I have more energy.

    My children are adults as are my grandchildren. I appreciate the time I spend with them moreso than when I worked. You will cherish your memories with your family at times when you think you have no energy. Sometimes that puts a little kick in your step, and you can revitalize, if only for the present.

    Right now, you have a serious impact on society. Just by posting, you are giving others the opportunity to speak up in order for some of us to support with words and kindness. Think of the Butterfly Effect and how you can make a difference just by being you.

    That being said, you mentioned seeing a therapist. That may help. I'm also on Prozac and the dosage is tweaked to my situation. It's not a bad thing if it helps.

    I was a professional student all my life before and after college in my 40's. Nowadays, I am finding projects and things to be involved with and to learn from in order to broaden my horizons. Keeping up curiosity will do wonders. It has a healing effect indirectly for you and others whose lives you touch.

    Let us know how you are doing.

    - Anna

  • elderberry
    elderberry Member Posts: 1,037

    li77: I am sorry you are losing your chosen family. Being an Army Brat I never had long term friends until I finished high school and moved to Vancouver. I have kept three of my friends from that period going on 53+ years. I understand what a loss it must be for you. Skype is all very well and good but it isn't like dropping over for dinner. I know they aren't abandoning you but I understand that feeling inside you all the same.

    You are still pretty early into your DX and it takes time (such a long time) to come to terms with it, as best you can. Talk to a therapist. Take any anti-anxiety or anti-depressants if it will help. My anxiety was through the roof. I felt like if I didn't hang on to something I would fly off into the air. Everyday I would check my e-mails hoping relatives or friends would just say ":Hi, thinking of you" No more than that. I was crushed when they didn't. They were too busy living their lives to care about me. They don't understand how lonely MBC is.(cue the violins) I have gotten over that. It's been 3 years since DX and I am plugging along. I am trying to live my life.

    Yes - F**K this shit.

    edited: I should add. I have not forgotten the pain it caused. I bear no grudges but I determined if it ever happens to someone I know /love - I will send even the briefest of emails, maybe not daily, but often.

  • divinemrsm
    divinemrsm Member Posts: 5,896

    li77, you've been given some great advice here. It sounds like you're going through a grieving process over the life you were looking forward to having that has been interrupted by mbc. I did the same thing after diagnosis, saw others seemingly without a care in the world, effortlessly experiencing all those mileposts in life, and thinking I'd never get that. Then at some point, I learned to focus on the day at hand and to live more fully in the present. I can truly say I've experienced some of the very best times of my life since mbc, not because of it but in spite of it. You will, too.

    Do you keep a journal? Writing three pages a day of whatever is on your mind: good, bad, terribly horrible, is very therapeutic. Antianxiety meds help me, too. I did not see a therapist, but if you are leaning in that direction, why not check it out.

    I never had a career, just low paying jobs. I put my energy into my family. After mbc, I realized I was always doing the things they wanted to do, helping them in their lives, and always putting myself on the back burner. So I began asking myself what did *I* want. Where did I want to go on vacation? What home project would benefit me? Where did I want to go out to dinner? Did I really feel like doing all the things my family wanted me to do, and if not, why was I not saying no. So, so many times I put others first. Since you say your family has been your focus, maybe it's time dial back a little to focus on what makes you happy. Really, really ask yourself what you want to be doing, not what you should be doing or what you have to be doing or what you're doing out of obligation. Maybe you are caught up in the societal expectations of how you should be living. Now's the time to think outside of the box, mix things up a bit and get creative. Even small changes on a daily basis add up and help shift our lives more into the direction we want to go in.

    Btw, it is said that the opposite of certainty is not uncertainty. It is openmindedness. Please allow yourself to be open to the real possibility that you could have many years of longevity living with mbc; yes, you could be here for your son's graduation! Who knows what may happen in the future. Be open to it. I've been at it 11+ years. I wish you the best.

  • elderberry
    elderberry Member Posts: 1,037

    li77: Divine is so right. We've dipped into our Line Of Credit to totally renovate the basement to create a studio space for me and my arts/crafts. A place for my DH to store and practice his musical instruments and to create an inviting guest bedroom/bathroom. My thoughts -- dammit - whether I live another two or five or whatever years , I DEMAND a space for ME. Yeah and for my DH and maybe a place for my Seattle friend to seek asylum.

    As "they" say --- CARPE DIEM

  • LI77
    LI77 Member Posts: 68

    Elderberry, thank you. I may talk to my doctor about anti-anxiety meds. I'm having awful insomnia, I notice that I'm clenching my jaw often, and I've been tearing apart the cuticles and skin around my thumbs so much that the nails are grooved and warped. This week is especially bad because of scanxiety; I have a brain mri tomorrow and a pet scan on Thursday. Ugh. That's awesome that you got to create a space for your arts and crafts! It is definitely necessary to have a space for yourself.

    Divinemrsm, you are right about the grieving process. I really do need to figure out how to live in the present, and to focus on what makes me happy. I am definitely open to the possibility of longevity. It's awesome to see so many people here that have been living with mbc for a long time; it definitely gives me hope.

  • elderberry
    elderberry Member Posts: 1,037

    li77: ativan can ease anxiety and can help you relax enough to maybe sleep. I use Melatonin at night and occasionally CBD oil. Since it is legal here, if I am really lying awake I'll have a toke or two of THC pot. For a while I did an ativan in the a.m.and then much later in the day, moving towards bedtime. It truly helped me function through the turbulent first months of my DX

    Breathe!!! Have hope!! There are quite a few bone mets ladies who are hitting 10 or more years.

  • LI77
    LI77 Member Posts: 68

    Thanks, elderberry!

    Amontro, I just saw your post. It's so easy to miss something with the way these threads are set up! That is fantastic that you've been a professional student; I loved (and was good at) taking classes/being a student. I even liked law school, lol. I graduated from college with two bachelor's degrees and 180 credits when I only needed something like 120 because I was interested in so many disciplines. I was thinking of going back to school before I got this diagnosis; I don't think I'll go back for another degree (because of both the financial and time constraints), but maybe I should look into taking some classes.

  • divinemrsm
    divinemrsm Member Posts: 5,896

    li77, my experience has been that finding the right antianxiety medicine (Buspar) went a long way to helping me move forward. (I worked with my pcp and his nurse practitioner to find the right one; it took a few tries). I realized my loved ones benefitted from my taking it because I was able to be more present with them and not be consumed by fear (truth—made me less bitchy). It improved my relationships, and that’s the kind of quality I want in my life. It doesn’t change my personality, just takes the edge off.

    You are still very new to the diagnosis. It takes time to adjust. Be good to yourself!