A cancer diagnosis can turn appear without warning and turn your world upside down. When this happens we often ask ourselves what we will do to cope with cancer and it's impact on our lives. As a survivor of two cancers, I know how taxing this can be. Here are some ideas that I hope will help.
1. STAY INFORMED
Knowledge is power. Keep up to date with your diagnosis and treatment plan. Makes sure you understand what treatment options you have, what stage of treatment you are in, how long they expect it to last, and what effects you should expect from the cancer and the treatment. During my second cancer I talked to my doctors daily (I was hospitalized for most of it) and got as much information as I could. This helped eliminate fear of the unknown and also helped me keep worried friends and family up to date. Being in the know can also give you back the feeling of a little control or power in a time when those can be in short supply.
2. TALK IT OUT
It's important to have some alone time, but it's also important not to let things fester. Talk to people you trust about what is happening, both physically and mentally. Cancer can be an emotional roller coaster and sometimes we feel the need to keep it all to ourselves. This only makes it harder. Be honest about how you are feeling and don't be afraid to have honest emotions; what you are dealing with can be very difficult and the support of those close to you (family, friends, nurses, or even fellow patients) can make all the difference.
3. GET SOME TIME FOR YOURSELF
Sometimes a cancer diagnosis can mean a steady stream of visits, appointments, questions, and just people in general. In the midst of this take time out to be alone. Reflect on what is happening in your life and how it is affecting you. Consider relaxation exercises or meditation to help you relieve tension and stress. Also consider keeping a journal. This helps you stay in touch with what is happening and express your thoughts and emotions freely. It will also give you an important record to look back on in the future. It's been nearly a decade since my last cancer and one of my biggest regrets is not having kept a journal of that time as it would be so useful when I work with people now.
Learning to cope with cancer can be challenging, try these three simple ideas to help you along your way. Remember everyone's cancer experience is as unique as the individual themselves, it effects us all differently. For some cancer will mean a complete stop and life in a hospital or under constant care, for others your daily life may still continue on and cancer will be a part of it until you are cured. The questions and struggles facing each of us will be different, if the above suggestions seem vague it is only because each person will need to adapt them to their unique circumstance.