Aging cancer survivors
I just had a birthday, and I am now 59 years old. I think of all of the changes I have seen in my life, many changes just in the last 17 years that I never should have seen. I was told I was terminally ill 17 years ago. I wasn’t supposed to have a 59th birthday! Usually I’ve celebrated every year I get older as an extra year I wasn’t supposed to have. I am one of the aging cancer survivors!
We have more long term cancer survivors now, that will be interesting as America ages. For fun I looked up “aging cancer survivors” on Google, and was surprised at what I found. I expected to read of celebration, but instead it talked about how cancer survivors age more quickly as a side effect of treatment. Well, I don’t feel I’m aging more quickly!! Someone recently told me I looked 40 (never mind the fast food cashier who smiled and said she was giving me the senior rate I wasn’t old enough for that same week).
My husband and I recently decided to start working part-time vs. full time. This means I gave up my job of hospital Director of Education and Clinical Nurse Specialist. They kept me part time for awhile, but it really is a full time position. I have a new part-time job working in an inpatient psychiatric pediatric hospital. The patients there are children who have really had very difficult childhoods; many were abused physically and sexually and were neglected. Some of their coping mechanisms have been suicide attempts, self harm, sexual promiscuity and drug use. This hospital has wonderful staff and a wonderful program that really helps these kids who have been through so much. It is a privilege to work there.
With my extra time I am also doing some volunteering. I drive for Meals on Wheels twice a month, I’d done that prior for ten years, and it was a good experience. I am also a CASA, a Court Appointed Special Advocate for abused and neglected children, and am now advocating for an 11 year old girl who has been abused and neglected most of her life. That is something I had done previously but became too difficult to do when I was working full time.
But I still have a lot of extra time to do things I love, like reading. I’m planning on playing my piano more and attending the YMCA more often and getting in better shape. I also want to work more for the Appendix Cancer Connection!