February 25, 2023

Ever Have a Stress-Free Cancer Dream?

I had a marathon dream last night that involved about ten different settings, four different eras of my life, my ballet teacher, her diseased father’s used gun and ammo shop, costumes, a high school fling, joining a cult, eating crushed cookies packaged up into little paper tubes, fantastic DIY interior re-designs of homes from my childhood, my brother and sister-in-law, and a speech I made about why overweight men can be very attractive.

In the midst of this insanity, there was a little off shoot dream. I don’t remember the images or plot, just the basic message. This mini-dream was an update on my emotional status of coping with cancer. I got the news that I was moving along on my path of coping. Much of the grief and exhaustion of cancer was behind me now. I was largely free to move on with my life. I learned I had already started to live a post-cancer life months ago but hadn’t yet realized it.

In my dream there was no sense of relief or reflection; that would have been too much a part of recovering from cancer. Instead I was just on to the next thing. I didn’t know what that was. But I knew what it wasn’t. It wasn’t cancer.

In ten-years, this is the first time I’ve had a cancer dream that was not a stress dream. It’s pretty damn nice.

Do you dream about cancer? Have you ever had a good cancer dream?  How do you think  you’ll know if or when cancer starts to take a back seat to the rest of your life?

For more tales about coping with life during and after cancer cancer, check out Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

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  1. Jens Says:
    February 26th, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    I think this fear - dreams are an important valve. This valve allows the brain to “release mental pressure”.
    However, I wish you more of the fearless dreams.

  2. Kim Says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    I don’t think I’ve dreamed that much about cancer, but when I was first diagnosed (esp before I had my surgery), I woke up every morning with the first thoughts being consumed with the fact that I had cancer. (and feeling like it must be all a bad dream) Now, I don’t necessarily wake up every morning with those thoughts, but it still (over 1 yr later) enters my thoughts at least daily that I can’t believe I have to live with the long-term treatment effects etc. and I still think to myself, why isn’t it all just a bad dream. It doesn’t help that there are so many meds to take on a daily basis. Maybe someday when I don’t think about it on a daily basis, then I’ll feel like it “takes a back seat to the rest of my life.” Otherwise for now it still feels very much in the “front seat.”

  3. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    February 27th, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    Jens - I hear you about the pressure valve. Sometimes even my horrible scary cancer dreams at least feel more productive than my awake time worrying. Nightmares = free therapy.

    Kim - You highlight a point I hear made over and over again by cancer survivors: It ain’t over once treatment is done. The long term side effects, taking pills, playing catch up on bills, dealing with it all makes it impossible to just wash our hands so quickly of the experience and make it out of sight and out of mind. Hang in there!

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