Living with Chronic Pain

Shirley Jones Luke
2 min readSep 29, 2021


A Daily Struggle

The struggle is real.

Every day I go to work in pain. Sometimes the pain is mild. Other times the pain is almost debilitating. I take Bayer Back & Body which helps. But once it wears off, the aches return. Bayer is strong so I try not to take another pill. I try to relax, do deep breathing, or go to sleep.

I’ve been dealing with chronic pain since my breast cancer surgery. I had reconstructive surgery along with tumor removal. Fortunately, the tumor had shrunk significantly due to chemo treatments. I had large breasts and took the option of a size reduction. Since the cancer was only in my right breast, I had to have my left breast resized. Don’t need a lopsided chest!

After my surgery, I needed to have radiation treatments. Those lasted for about five months. The combination of chemo, surgery, and radiation did a number on my body. I gained weight and lost my hair. I was hungry and tired at the same time.

Despite my treatments, I continued to work. I only took two weeks off after my breast cancer surgery. People thought I was crazy. But working kept my mind off my health issues. When my mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I took a month off to help her with surgery and treatments. Other than that, I was at work, teaching my students.

It’s been six years since the surgery. While the worst of the pain has passed, I still suffer from chronic aches and pains. Stress makes the pain worse. As a teacher, I’m always instructing, planning, and assessing. I’m generally on my feet all day. I have to be a surrogate mom, referee, and coach to my students. We get a lot of holidays and personal days off, but I try not to use them. I was glad I had accrued plenty of sick time when I had cancer. It definitely kept my bank account in the black.

I try to stretch in the morning and when I get home from work. I relax on my sofa. I watch tv or read. I check my social media. I have to decompress from the day. There’s never a dull moment when you’re a teacher. Every day brings new drama.

Chronic pain is my new normal. I try to manage with Bayer and other natural remedies. I need to lose weight to ease my backache. I need to stretch to relieve the tension in my neck and shoulders. I rub my boobs when they ache. I rest my body when I can. I go and see my doctor. And I write. All of this helps me get through the pain.



Shirley Jones Luke

Shirley is a poet and writer. Ms. Luke enjoys reading, fashion and travel. She is working on a manuscript of her poems and an essay collection.