Cancer Beginners: Tips from a Two-Time Survivor

Started by anonymous, October 23, 2015
7 replies for this topic
anonymous

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Posted on
October 23, 2015
Often, success in life doesn’t come from intelligence or education or ability. It comes from stubbornness. I couldn’t think my way out of cancer no matter how much I desperately wanted a magic shortcut. I also didn’t have the magic ability to make my cancer go away. Cancer is a disease and I just had to work my way through it — first being diagnosed, then being treated for it and finally, ongoing survivorship. Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it ... just get through it.

Persistence was and continues to be the key for me. Patience was a skill I tried to develop along the way, too. I learned that patience goes well with persistence. Patience can be cultivated. I know I don’t come by it naturally! Breathe. With persistence being the key, I then had choices to make about how I go through cancer itself and then cancer survivorship, otherwise known to me as “wait and watch.”

For the first time, when diagnosed at age 46, I learned that life can throw some very major, very personal curve balls right at you. Fear for your own continued existence is a primal and intimate experience. At the time of diagnosis, you may think that cancer is just too big and that you just can’t get through it. A cancer diagnosis is a life changer. It is a major blow. Being persistent, getting answers, and developing a treatment plan is diagnosis-time persistence. Get help starting from this point forward. Don’t go it alone.

Treatment requires persistence too. Pain, discomforts, fears about surgery, chemotherapy, side effects, radiation and lack of sleep are some of the things that will try to plow you under. Dig in. One minute, one hour, one day at a time — be persistent. Muddle through. Just keep going. Stay in close communication with your medical team about what you are experiencing so they can help you through your treatment. Inform them about your side effects. Ask for help.

Finally, survivorship after treatment demands persistence. Realizing you can’t quite go back to old normal — discovering that monitoring appointments and tests and worries will continue, and that things have changed. Again, persistence. More time and distance away from diagnosis and active treatment and successful follow-up appointments will all help you along the way. Hang in there. Keep holding on. Move your life forward. Yes, you can. Yes, you can.

I also needed to practice persistence in working through all the cancer emotions — fear, anger, anxiety and stress, to name a few. Cancer is a deal changer. I needed persistence to expand the tools in my emotional tool bag — reaching out to my belief system, finding a cancer support group, having one-on-one contact with fellow survivors, locating a psychotherapist who was a good fit for me, and exploring medication, meditation, mindfulness and distraction, to name a few. I needed persistence to take the time and effort to learn and to use those new tools. You will work out what works best for you. You will learn your own coping tools with persistence. Hang in there. You will get through this.

Cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship are like getting through a marathon, not running a short sprint. Take it one step at a time. Take it moment by moment. Take a breath. Grow your persistence and patience one minute, one hour and one day at a time. Fellow survivors, please add what helped and helps you get through your cancer. Thank you!
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BarbaraTako

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
October 23, 2015
Often, success in life doesn’t come from intelligence or education or ability. It comes from stubbornness. I couldn’t think my way out of cancer no matter how much I desperately wanted a magic shortcut. I also didn’t have the magic ability to make my cancer go away. Cancer is a disease and I just had to work my way through it — first being diagnosed, then being treated for it and finally, ongoing survivorship. Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it ... just get through it.

Persistence was and continues to be the key for me. Patience was a skill I tried to develop along the way, too. I learned that patience goes well with persistence. Patience can be cultivated. I know I don’t come by it naturally! Breathe. With persistence being the key, I then had choices to make about how I go through cancer itself and then cancer survivorship, otherwise known to me as “wait and watch.”

For the first time, when diagnosed at age 46, I learned that life can throw some very major, very personal curve balls right at you. Fear for your own continued existence is a primal and intimate experience. At the time of diagnosis, you may think that cancer is just too big and that you just can’t get through it. A cancer diagnosis is a life changer. It is a major blow. Being persistent, getting answers, and developing a treatment plan is diagnosis-time persistence. Get help starting from this point forward. Don’t go it alone.

Treatment requires persistence too. Pain, discomforts, fears about surgery, chemotherapy, side effects, radiation and lack of sleep are some of the things that will try to plow you under. Dig in. One minute, one hour, one day at a time — be persistent. Muddle through. Just keep going. Stay in close communication with your medical team about what you are experiencing so they can help you through your treatment. Inform them about your side effects. Ask for help.

Finally, survivorship after treatment demands persistence. Realizing you can’t quite go back to old normal — discovering that monitoring appointments and tests and worries will continue, and that things have changed. Again, persistence. More time and distance away from diagnosis and active treatment and successful follow-up appointments will all help you along the way. Hang in there. Keep holding on. Move your life forward. Yes, you can. Yes, you can.

I also needed to practice persistence in working through all the cancer emotions — fear, anger, anxiety and stress, to name a few. Cancer is a deal changer. I needed persistence to expand the tools in my emotional tool bag — reaching out to my belief system, finding a cancer support group, having one-on-one contact with fellow survivors, locating a psychotherapist who was a good fit for me, and exploring medication, meditation, mindfulness and distraction, to name a few. I needed persistence to take the time and effort to learn and to use those new tools. You will work out what works best for you. You will learn your own coping tools with persistence. Hang in there. You will get through this.

Cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship are like getting through a marathon, not running a short sprint. Take it one step at a time. Take it moment by moment. Take a breath. Grow your persistence and patience one minute, one hour and one day at a time. Fellow survivors, please add what helped and helps you get through your cancer. Thank you!
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Lyndall

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
October 26, 2015
Aloha from Hawaii, I am getting ready to take my 1st year out scans, MRI and whatever else I must do to check my body and of course I am a little nervous and scared. I keep telling myself that whatever comes of the tests I will deal with it but it can be emotionally overwhelming. Any suggestions to deal with the pre-scan stage? Mahalo
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BarbTako

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
October 26, 2015
Aloha from Minnesota. Very good question. I hope others chime in. I think everyone who has had cancer has more anxiety and stress now with the pre-scan stage. Some people stress several months in advance. Others, a few days or anywhere in-between. My suggestions are to try to use techniques that will help calm you and talk to one or more people who understand what you are talking about--you don't have to go this part alone either! If you have a belief system to help that might provide some comfort too. I try to refocus, tell myself not to stress about what I can't control, and to put everything in God's hands. I think the answers to your question are as varied as the number of people out here. Wishing you a cancer-free scan! Be gentle with yourself!
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Whitey

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
October 26, 2015
Mahalo, I can relate..........have had two post-treatment scans and both created anxiety. The next will also, but what can we do about it......a normal human reaction to our situation. My approach is to do all in my power to help my immune system.............healthy diet, exercise, keeping active and social, having a positive outlook and disposition, and - for me - faith is very important. Make sure you have good docs, and follow their treatment........ Staying positive is difficult, but logic tells me it has a very beneficial effect. Stress impairs the immune system...... I believe that is an accepted medical fact. And to me a positive attitude is, by definition, a stress reducer. One thing for sure, it will definitely make you feel better. We have been dealt a bad hand...........a recent major study says the disease results for the most part (aside from sun and smoking) from nothing more than bad luck.......a freak mutation I suppose. Who knows........... what we have to do is go on living our lives like we always have, and doing all we can to not allow our minds to entertain the evil thoughts that arise. The harder we work at that the sooner they will go away. Hang tough Mahalo...........don't ever give in.......not even for a microsecond....... Best wishes, Bill
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Kimmie

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
October 27, 2015
Hi, I'm a 1 1/2 yr first time survivor. I live daily In fear of it coming back. So much bad has happened while I was sick. Got a divorce, car was totaled by a drunk driver, and lost my job. I met up with an old flame who is now my rock! I have lots of side effects from my tamoxifin, gabapentin etc.in Pain management but barely given anything to help with the neurapothy pain. I tip over all the time. Have issues with my hands and feet and have mild lymphedema. Two lymphnodes were removed. Hot flashes galore too. I just want to know what you did to keep going once you got a second diagnosis. Mine was aggressive and afraid it will come back. Just want to know how you move forward to clear the fear.
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penquinhead

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
October 28, 2015
Greetings Everyone After being dx with pancreatic cancer in June 2009, I knew immediately the only chance I had for any longer than average survival is to be a peace with the cancer. No 'why me' mindset. Even my social worker said ' I never heard you asking why me'. 1.6 million people are dx with cancer every year in america so why not me. 6 years later I am in the less than 5% survivors group. Still working, climbing mountains. I wish everyone my good fortune. Sincerely, Peter.
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BarbTako

Member
0 Replies
Posted on
October 28, 2015
Hi Kimmie, I probably need to clarify--my first diagnosis was breast cancer and my second diagnosis was melanoma on the shoulder on the opposite side from the breast cancer. I wasn't happy about the second cancer but my long-term odds for the melanoma are about the same odds of my breast cancer returning. I was unhappy and upset, but I knew the drill and sort of felt, hmm, resigned? I am weary of having skin checks and biopsies every 3 months and additional larger excisions removed each time the lab finds something it doesn't like. Moving forward takes lots of time--years rather than months, in my opinion, to get through some of the scans and, hopefully, some of the side effects will gradually improve for you (my hot flashes are still there and neuropathy and lymphedema but either I'm used to it or it has gradually reduced some too at just over 5 years out from breast cancer). The fear may always be there to some degree--we're human. I try to acknowledge my fears when they are there but not dwell on them. Sending hugs, Barb.
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