From "Heart to Heart" to My Friends With Cancer

If you are like most people who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, you might be asking the unanswerable question, along with a few others: What will happen to me? What will my life be like? Will I be changed?
BY Dorothy Holloway, RN
PUBLISHED May 21, 2015
My message to my friends: cancer patients.

Each of us has a diagnosis of cancer; so we probably have a number of thoughts and feelings in common.

“I just got diagnosed with cancer, now what do I do?”

If you are like most people who have recently been diagnosed with cancer, you might be asking the unanswerable question, along with a few others: What will happen to me? What will my life be like? Will I be changed?

First I would like to ask each of you, “What were your thoughts and feelings when you first learned of your diagnosis?” If you like most people, you will be anxious and concerned, maybe fearful. It is normal to feel this way; it is also possible to face your cancer diagnosis and all that it will mean to you. You need to connect with the people in your life; you need to devise a realistic and hopeful plan for your future. In many ways the emotional reaction to a cancer diagnosis resembles the grieving pieces; it can feel like a loss.

It is only human to have feelings of fear, anger, depression, disappointment, and confusion; these feelings are normal, so don’t judge yourself harshly for having them. Your feelings won’t disappear just because you don’t want to deal with them.

A cancer diagnosis can feel like a punch in the gut followed by the sense that life as you have known it has come to an end.

Get to know people with cancer. Talk to positive role models. Talk to your friends and family and have conversations about how you can support each other in all aspects of your relationship. You can pray, practice meditation, and enjoy a hobby. Surround yourself with hope. This is your journey; hold your head high and do what you need to do for yourself; it may not be easy. But it is possible. You are stronger than you realize. Do not expect sympathy, do enjoy life, and do not be discouraged.

Consider some behaviors that are frequently exhibited when one is diagnosed with cancer:

Anxiety: Anxiety is contagious and experienced by everyone at some point in time. It is an important measure of general well – being. It is helpful to identify the source of anxiety which is classified as mild. Moderate, severe, and panic.

Hopelessness: Prognosis and treatment can contribute to hopelessness. Consider your previously used coping strategies and misconception about the diagnosis and prognosis of cancer. I asked my oncologist about my prognosis; his response was “I had one to live for six weeks and one to live for six months. “ My response was I will take the one for six months.” Other aspects of hopelessness include lass of social support, prolonged treatment with no positive results, and being unable to discuss concerns, feelings and expectations with family and friend because I don’t want to be a bother.

Anger: Everyone gets angry at some time. Feel free to discuss your thoughts and feelings.

Depression: Behaviors commonly seen in depression include little interest or pleasure in doing things; feelings down, depressed or hopeless most of the day, nearly every day; exhibits feelings of worthlessness or guilt; fatigue and loss of energy nearly every day.

Measures that may help with depression include the use of relaxation. Some strategies are deep breathing, dressing appropriately for the day, imagery, distraction, and avoiding negative coping behaviors.

Other areas of usefulness include trying new activities, taking a new class, increasing socialization, exercise, expressing feelings and asking for help.

Believe that you will adjust; give yourself time to accept and grow with your experiences.


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