Waiting Game: How I Cope With Cancer’s Reality | MyOvarianCancerTeam

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Waiting Game: How I Cope With Cancer’s Reality

Written by Liz Connor
Posted on June 1, 2023

No one tells you how boring cancer is. Books, movies, and the media omit this part from the arc of the cancer hero. Yes, we are superbrave. Yes, we are fighting for our lives. Yes, we are great examples of how to push forward in the face of overwhelming odds (especially us ovarian gals). But we are also pretty bored.

There is so much waiting! Waiting for appointments to be scheduled. Waiting to be called in to see the doctor. Waiting for the results of whichever test or scan we have that week. During chemotherapy, we wait for the bags to slowly empty into our veins. After chemo we wait, sometimes on the bathroom floor, for the pain and nausea to pass. We wait for our strength to return after a treatment cycle or surgery. We brace ourselves in our painful present and wait for a better tomorrow.

Not only is there a lot of waiting, there isn’t much we can do during said wait. We are put through treatment regimens that leave us exhausted, nauseated, sore, aching, and cranky. I was left nearly incapacitated at times, but not so incapacitated that I was able to sleep my way through the roughest parts. I was left in a state of suspended animation — unable to do much to keep me preoccupied but unable to fully check out of the moment. It’s hard to read or concentrate on anything when it feels like your bones are screaming. I, for one, had no idea what bone pain could possibly feel like until I did carboplatin-Taxol. Holy hell, bones can scream. What do you do when your skeleton wants to escape? Not much.

I had no experience with cancer or the process of treatment outside of a cheesy feel-good movie. I don’t need to tell you, this is no feel-good movie. There is so much downtime, and it is not always of quality. Sometimes it is spent trying to position yourself just so in order to alleviate some of your pain. Sometimes it is spent with your forehead pushed up against the cool porcelain of the toilet waiting for your Zofran to kick in. No joke, stay on top of that.

There is so much downtime that can’t be filled with anything fun or productive because of the state you are left in. Enter reality TV. Thank God for reality TV. Whether it be your favorite flavor of “Housewives,” “The Kardashians,” “Top Chef,” “Survivor,” “Chopped,” or whatever, it is just enough to distract but not so much that you need to actually follow a storyline. There is almost no character development, which helps when trying to avoid emotional investment. It’s great. It’s trash and it’s noise and it works.

Let me be clear, this time watching BS TV or scrolling on your phone for hours is not wasted. We are doing the important work of getting the hell out of “the moment.” Being present in life is not a luxury we can afford at times. We need to disengage and dissociate in order to make it through. Press fast-forward. Be present when the present doesn’t have you surfing waves of nausea. You can save up all the “present” that you missed while feeling awful and really throw yourself into it when it’s delicious and kind and gentle and fun. Save your awareness of the moment for your family and friends — cancer doesn’t deserve it.


MyOvarianCancerTeam members discuss ovarian cancer from a specific point of view. Members’ articles don’t reflect the opinions of MyOvarianCancerTeam staff, medical experts, partners, advertisers, or sponsors. MyOvarianCancerTeam content isn’t intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Posted on June 1, 2023
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Liz Connor is living with stage 4 ovarian cancer in upstate New York. Learn more about her here.

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