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Cancer, Life's Challenges

A Cancer Story: The Emotional Maelstrom

Part of cancer’s charm is the roller coaster of emotions brought on by both the disease and the treatment for the disease.

Cancer’s part is mostly psychological, the constant reminder that life is tenuous, frail, here today, gone tomorrow. The disease is a bully, puffing out its chest and reminding you at every turn that it has killed, will kill, and won’t hesitate to add you to its long list of victories. It is ruthless and respects no one. And no matter how many surgeries you have or what kind of treatment is administered the thought is always there: what if it doesn’t work?

And the chemo is no walk in the park physically. It’s poison, given at doses strong enough to kill the rogue cells but not quite potent enough to kill the host (you) has side effects that are relentless and come in waves, strongest the first few days after each treatment, then subsiding gradually until it’s time to get juiced again. The constant nausea, the parasthesias, the cold sensitivity, the restlessness, sleeplessness . . . it all wears on you like the steady drip of water boring a hole in rock.

Up and down the emotions go (mostly down): the depression, the anxiety, the moodiness. Ebbing and flowing like some dark, mysterious psychological sea.

I’d go from feeling light and optimistic to bawling my eyes out while watching the kids play in the backyard. I spent a lot of time sitting in my recliner, staring. Just staring. Jen called it “the chemo stare.” Any confrontation at all, whether with Jen or the girls, would send me into an emotional tailspin.

But through the maelstrom of emotions there were always the blessings to keep me tethered to hope. The folks who brought us meals, mowed our grass, ironed our clothes, paid our bills, watched the kids, and numerous other things served as beacons in the night, guiding me back to God by showing us His love, His care, His concern. They were His hands and feet, His voice, His touch, His heart; they showed us in a very practical way that no matter how bad things got, how dark the nights were, or how deserted the wilderness got, we were not alone.

What was it that sent you on an emotional roller coaster? And who did God bring into your life to keep you tethered to hope?


About michaelkingbooks

I write stories of faith and family, love and loss, heartache and triumph. Here I blog about faith, relationships, and genuine living.


2 thoughts on “A Cancer Story: The Emotional Maelstrom

  1. I am posting this anonymously to protect my husband’s reputation. I relate very strongly to much of your grief process, except my process was not because of cancer or other physical illness. My husband had an affair. I went through so much of what you have been writing about. I wasn’t able to share what was happening with many people, including both of our families, because we wanted to heal the marriage, and we and our counselors felt that the best chance we had at doing that was to protect my husband from those who might not be able to forgive him. (Neither of our families are what you might call “emotionally healthy,” so really, we were also protecting them, too, by keeping this between us.) Because we couldn’t share what we were going through with many people, we also didn’t have much support. With an illness or a death in the family, it is obvious that you need help getting through. But with this grief, very few knew. I am NOT saying illness or death is any better or easier–by no means.

    I desperately needed the kind of support you describe, because I was absolutely flattened by this. I went through post traumatic stress. I dropped 15 pounds almost overnight because I couldn’t eat or sleep. I was an emotional and physical wreck. I think it is hard for people who have never been through something like that to comprehend what it is like. Funny, but I read your blog entries because what you experienced “feels” so similar to where I was when I discovered the affair. I did a lot of research on trauma and grief and discovered that much of what cancer patients and people who’ve lost a close loved one go through is very similar to the grief and trauma experienced by a spouse who is the victim of an affair.

    You state above, “they showed us in a very practical way that no matter how bad things got, how dark the nights were, or how deserted the wilderness got, we were not alone.” The few Christians I was able to turn to gave me a measure of this kind of support. Some others, though, had no clue what to do or what to say. Regardless of what people did or did not do, I absolutely clung to Christ as my only hope. My husband loved another woman; I knew my marriage could be over. I could not depend on family or friends to see my through. Here and there, when I asked for it, a few people stepped forward to babysit my toddler or let me come to them and talk or cry. I could have used a lot more, but again, few people understand what to do in a situation like mine. Those were lonely days. I am so glad you had such support from those who cared about you and your family.

    Posted by Anon | September 5, 2012, 9:03 pm
    • Thank you for sharing this. And you’re right, it is hard to imagine the pain you went through (are going through). I don’t know who you are but God does and I pray He will bless you and keep you and give you peace like you’ve never known before. I pray He will bring healing to your marriage (if it’s still possible) or at least healing to your heart and soul. I always keep a verse close to me: “God is near to those of a broken heart.” When we hurt most that is when He is closest.

      Posted by michaelkingbooks | September 7, 2012, 7:31 am

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What readers are saying about A THOUSAND SLEEPLESS NIGHTS . . .

I have not been so deeply and utterly moved by a book in a very long time. A Thousand Sleepless Nights is a powerful and gripping novel that moved me greatly.
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A Thousand Sleeples Nights left me speechless as my heart and mind reconciled dealing with the trauma of cancer and a lifetime of regrets and finding God in the midst of it all. Sometimes a diagnosis of cancer can be God’s redemption.
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I can really see how [this book] will be a blessing to many who have to face the devestation of cancer and loss.
--Tina H.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights will tug at your deepest emotions as it unfolds the evil of cancer and the power of relationships. The characters are endearing, real and relatable, as is the true battles they fight: illness, apathy, love, commitment and balancing life. King's novel strikes a vein, and sends hope to the heart of the matter--a fine read for anyone in need of healing.
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This is a stirring novel that paints a great picture of cancer and its effects on not only those who have it, but their families and friends.
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A Thousand Sleepless Nights moved me so deeply I could not leave it alone until I’d read it completely. This bittersweet tale of illness--both physical and emotional--and the way lives are ultimately changed by its effects makes it a story for everyone, especially for those struggling to find forgiveness and healing.
--Claudette W.

A Thousand Sleepless Nights is a novel that touches you on a deep emotional level. It is a beautiful story about surviving, suffering, and what the true meaning of love is and how cancer, while devastating, can pull together a family torn apart by a past of neglect. A beautiful masterpiece!
--Joshua R.


September 2012
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