Identity. It is made up of many different components and is often different for different people. For those of us who went to school for years and years to attain a certain degree or status or position, that effort and attaining that goal becomes a part of our identity.
Here’s how Adiba view her loss of career to Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) …
Again, it isn’t an issue for everyone, but it certainly was for me as well. Going from working a lot of hours every week and my focus being divided between work and home …. to …. being at loose ends a lot. I’d had a job, usually more than full time, since I was in high school, so it was a really weird adjustment. I felt useless and unproductive and lost, like I lost a piece of myself. Plus, I was already struggling with depression since I’d been diagnosed and I spent way too much time staring at the wall.
Losing a sense of self is a big deal. It’s demoralizing and it can cause depression, anxiety and whole host of other mental health difficulties. And yet, there is very little focus on this part of the cancer experience.
What’s the solution?
All aspects of a person’s life is affected by cancer and no one part is more or less important objectively. It all depends on the person and there are no right or wrong answers. I think every patient needs a team who is constantly assessing the patient’s whole life, checking in and providing space for patients to talk about what they are struggling with. Struggles at the beginning of the MBC experience may be very different from struggles at the 2 or 3 or 5 year marks.
For those of us living with MBC, treatment never ends and the losses never end.
And now you know more about the losses those of us who have MBC face.