Managing Survivorship One Foot and Breath in Front of Another

Published on: 

Being a caregiver and survivor takes adjusting to the diagnosis of the "C" word. Until there is a cure for cancer, may we all do our best to put one breath and foot in front of another.

Putting one foot in front of the other along with each breath has been my goal not only since I received my diagnosis of cancer, but also with recent news of two family members who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

I have at my own pace moved beyond feelings of shock, anger and sadness to begin to embrace the “warrior and cheerleader stage”, as I call it. As a new caregiver, I describe the warrior or cheerleader stage to be when you are fully ready and committed to fight and offer support in a healthy manner while not sacrificing your own needs and health at the same time. With the good support of others, I am actively coping. What seems to help is the story or testimony of others on a similar journey.

Everyone may cope differently, but I what have found helpful is hearing from others have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and who have been coping and doing well. I have also focused on gratitude, not only for when I was diagnosed with breast cancer at an early stage, but also for the news my family members have received about their diagnosis as they have been offered time to seek active treatment.

I suppose if I have one thing to say to someone who is newly diagnosed with cancer or a fellow caregiver it would be not to underestimate the power someone else's story and testimony. For any experience with treatment and adjusting to the diagnosis, it helps to normalize it for someone else. I can relate to both sides, as it is not uncommon to be routinely going about my day when someone will pull me off to the side and ask, "Can I talk to you?" It is amazing how many women can find a little benefit from speaking with me and asking about my experience with breast cancer, as they were just diagnosed. Each path for a person after diagnosis will be different, but I don't mind answering basic questions or offering any supportive resources that may help someone with their choices and ability to cope.

I have found learning about others who have had prostate cancer has been incredibly helpful for me as a caregiver and to some degree, I am aware it has helped at least one of my family members. I have learned of many who have been diagnosed or who are coping with prostate cancer, and you have no idea until they learn your family is coping with the same and they offer to share their story.

This process for me as a caregiver has helped me put one foot and breath in front of the other in coping emotionally. I appreciate the individuals who have shared their story. Not everyone will want to discuss or be comfortable opening up about a diagnosis, but to those who do, don't underestimate the power it may have in offering a supportive path for the next person to take. Until there is a cure for cancer, may we all do our best to keep putting one foot and breath in front of the other.