When cancer comes calling it feels like you are a soda pop that someone just shuck the hell out of and popped the lid. You can feel like you are all over the place. Just about every week someone reaches out to me to tell me they or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer. Everybody’s experience with cancer is different but I am sharing my top ten things that I have learned. My hope is that you can use at least one of the tips. And one more thing, these tips are good for anyone who has recently been diagnosed with a chronic health condition. Hearing you have had a heart attack or that you have diabetes is scary too. Here’s my ten tips for being diagnosed with cancer.
Build your team. You simple cannot go through this alone. Pick three people who you trust. This is your personal team. As you navigate cancer ask them their opinions, let them research and join you at doctor appointments. Trust me on this. Three heads are better than one.
Choose your doctors wisely. If you have a doctor that doesn’t treat you with respect and answer all of your questions, then ask your general practitioner for a referral to another doctor. I have only ran across a couple of “dud” doctors, most really want to help you.
Don’t commit to anything until you and your team has had time to research. The best place to find information is at the National Institute of Health (NIH). If you are like me and already had surgery request a copy of the pathology report. There may be more than one pathology report, so ask if the hospital sent your tumor to another facility. The pathology report will give you additional information for research.
You and your team must stay away from the internet (except from the NIH) and online social groups. I didn’t and it added to stress and worry to my life. Finally, I left all groups. In-person support groups are fine, but I have found even those can be taxing. Your personal team is your main support.
You are not in control but don’t give your power away. You are in a very vulnerable place but that doesn’t mean you are not whole. Don’t give your power away to doctors, friends and family. Make your choices based on your research and intuition. In my experience pressure came from unexpected places, like my friends who demanded I wear a wig. Read my post To Wig or Not to Wig.
Surprise! Doctors don’t have all the answers. They are human beings just like you. Take responsibility for your own health and the outcomes you want.
You are not a statistic. No one knows the day and hour in which you will die.
The American Cancer Society is not the best resource. I contacted them on five different occasions and didn’t receive help. I hope your experience is different.
You will need to make major changes. Drink clean water, get enough sleep, eat organic whole food, change your hygiene products, pray, meditate, and exercise. It’s a lot of changes. One of the best resources I have found is AntiCancer Living by Lorenzo Cohen and Alison Jefferies.
When cancer comes calling it is scary as hell. But I also want you to realize that not all cancers are an automatic death sentence. I find what really helps is to stay hopeful, be grateful for everyday of life and look for joy in all the small places.
I am a certified life coach and am in the process of developing a coaching program specifically for cancer patients. Please join my mailing list for more information. I promise I will not send you a gazillion e-mails. Just the good stuff.