Controlling the Uncontrollable With Cancer


Formulating a plan and knowing how to react can help to ease emotions at a difficult time in life.

I, like many, don’t do so well with the unknown. Unfortunately for me, cancer is the epitome of the unknown. It’s a realm of changing tides, uncontrollable circumstances and so much of what one would never chose to go through. Living in that world of unknowns is something that we have sadly had to do during the course of these last few years.

In so many ways, you simply are forced to change your viewpoint of the world. You have to retrain your mind to what is actually happening, rather than what you thought was going to happen. You learn to prioritize differently. To lean into the ever-changing new normal, you just keep trudging on. It is not easy, and nobody wants it to be that way, but that is the acceptance piece. It just is that way.

I would say hardest of all is not getting swept up in the negativity along the way. It is in those moments that keeping a steady eye on the horizon is most important. Anxiety, stress, anger, frustration and so many emotions can throw you off course. It is not because you are weak or because you have not tried hard enough. It is because you are caught in the eye of a powerful storm that seems never-ending. Know that no matter what, you have anchors to help you along the way.

Those anchors are different from one person to the next. They can differ from patient to patient or even for family members within a singular family. They may include a loved one, a friend that you can call to find solace in moment of distress. Or, it could just be a long walk while you await results from the latest blood draw, or a meal alone in contrast to the hectic day of sitting in a bustling clinic having just received chemo.

I can list all the things that we cannot control when it comes to cancer. Most, if not all, of you reading this can probably add many more things that are unique to your own situations. For those of us who have lived with cancer in our lives, we can trace a pattern of events. For instance, that results mean waiting and waiting means anxiety. So take control by formulating a plan. What you do in that time is crucial, because no matter what, you are going to have to wait for the results.

Cancer or no cancer, both negative and positive emotions are going to occur in life. Although with a situation like cancer, it is bound to cause an intensified reaction in both directions. If we can choose how to react and be prepared when that occurs, then I feel like that is us fighting back. Our actions are giving us back control in those situations that feel so very uncontrollable. It may not feel like much, but it is actually more than you realize.

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