Over the years of beating the heck out of cancer, I’ve learned the things that I should do to help me cope and get through the disease, as well as things that I shouldn’t do. Below are four things you definitely don’t want to do when fighting, err, beating cancer.
"I’ll Be in Here."
I can remember during my last diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma, in 1997, I was disappointed, angry and cursed so much the words lost their effect. I’m sure many of those with cancer or who have had cancer know that drill. I didn’t always want to be around people and was a very moody individual (not much has changed there). During some of those times, I’d withdraw and hide out in my room. I wouldn’t eat bon-bons and watch "The Notebook" or anything, but I went into total isolation mode. Eventually, a friend of mine managed to drag me out of the house (not by my hair, I had none). After a small trip to the mall, lunch and chatting with some friends, my spirits were immediately lifted. No doubt, when going through cancer hell, being alone and resting can be a good thing, but total isolation isn’t the best choice, if you ask me.
OK, I know it’s good to tell yourself, "I’m OK ... I’ll be fine." It can help you to think positive and believe that you are going to get healthy again. However, don’t deny and ignore the fact that, at least temporarily, you may need to slow down a bit so you can whip some cancer butt. This might mean cutting back on the workouts, or all together, eating better, getting more rest, staying away from negative people and not robbing banks. Wait, never rob banks regardless of your cancer status. The bottom line is, realize that your body is going through hell and needs you to take care of it. So, be good to you, and you will be good to you back. Do you follow me?
"I got it. Thanks, though."
Sometimes it’s hard to let other people do stuff for us because our pride gets in the way or we simply don’t want to put people out. When you are going through chemotherapy and radiation though, and when you’re energy levels are in the toilet, allowing people to help you can be a good idea. I’m not saying you have to play the cancer card every opportunity you get, but don’t deny yourself help when you need it.
"I’ll be out for a while."
Then there’s the folks that put everything on pause, and I get it, believe me. I’m very aware that everyone handles their own disease in different ways, and that because of the varying degrees of illness in different individuals, there may be limitations. In other words, a patient might actually need to totally put everything on the back burner while going through treatment. However, I don’t think that putting every area of your life on hold is in your best interest, if you don’t have to. Having some feeling of "normal" always gave me a sense of being in control. Being able to workout a little versus not at all, and being able to get out of the house some, but not always, helped me feel like a normal human.
So, remember it’s OK to get ticked off when you have cancer (No kidding, right?), but get out and about. Also, take care of yourself, realize your body is under stress and adjust accordingly — don’t be the stubborn patient with cancer who doesn’t accept any help. And, definitely don’t be the patient with cancer who turns on "airplane mode."