Thursday, July 14, 2011

Living with cancer

I follow a few (billion) cancer sites. The most helpful ones send me emails telling me what is going on as opposed to the ones I am supposed to remember to go and read (excuse me but chemo brain does not allow that kind of thought process regularly - and no, I see no reason to give up the chemo brain excuse anytime in the next decade or so). This morning I received an email where someone asked: "Can you give tips to becoming a successful survivor?"

At first it seems a tad naive. But then I started to think (a scary prospect) and came up with some input.

First of all, skip the survivor business. To me it is a label and has some negative overtones that imply illness and eventual death. You want to be a person who coincidentally has a cancer diagnosis behind them and is now living with cancer (because, no it doesn't go away).

Second, there is no magic panacea, one size fits all solution here. You need to find out what works for you. The best advice I can give is get off your butt and start trying to figure this out. Do you want to write a book or a blog about this? Do you want a support group or would you prefer a therapist, or both? Everybody has a different combination of support that they need to cope with being in treatment. The option of not needing support I think is non-existent. We all need some kind of support at this time. Is someone going to chemo with you or do you want more than that? You have made the first step in this process by simply asking.

Then, now that you have been given a wake up call on your own mortality, what have you always wanted to do but never did, never found the time? It is now the time to do it. Do you want to save the world or merely hike the Grand Canyon? Do you want to give back and help others - read to the blind, bring snacks to chemo patients, or walk around the world for cancer awareness? Give some thought to what you want to do and try some different things.

Eventually you will find that there is life after cancer. You aren't surviving. You are living.

3 comments:

nancyspoint said...

Wow, if you or I had the magic answers here, we might be rich! The trouble is, just like you said, there is no certain way to survive cancer. Everyone has to find their own way and muddle through. As you may know, I don't much care for the label either.

BreastCancerSisterhood.com said...

I agree with you on so many levels. Most of us who've been diagnosed with breast cancer already know all the diet and lifestyle precautions, we just don't do them. I've adhered to all of them until my husband died seven months ago and then all bets were off. If I'm to be honest, until six weeks ago, I didn't care whether I was here or not. While I continued to exercise during this time, I didn't eat healthy and drank way too many gin and tonics. I'm glad to say I'm back on track and doing all the things I can to lessen my risk of recurrence.

Cansirboi said...

hahah I love the chemo brain excuse....ultimate trump card.