CANCER ! How to Fight Back from the Dreaded Diagnosis.
Dealing with the Shock.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with Cancer. If anyone tells you that it is not a shock to the system, they lie. However, dealing with it is vital if the patient is to stand the best chance of overcoming the disease that has afflicted them.
I have traced my own voyage from diagnosis to remission in many Hubs to be found here, so no need to repeat my story here, save to say that there is growing evidence that having a POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE is key to any chance of beating the disease.
My nurses were constantly telling me that they despaired of so many patients who, after diagnosis, just seem to give up and rely solely on the medical team to pull them through.
Let me be the first to pay tribute to the treatment and care that I received from my Oncology team from top to bottom. Tthey were superb and I owe them a lot ,not least for strengthening my resolve to build and maintain a POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE throughout.
My Cancer was diagnosed in 2010 and in 2011 I was classed as in remission. That is where I am still today and will be till February 2015, 5 years after my last chemotherapy session. Only then will I be officially cured and till then return for 6 monthly assessments, all of which to date have been positive.
I can recall the day I was officially diagnosed in front of my wife and elder son. After the initial hammer blow had hit, the fact that they were there was the catalist to giving me a speedy PMA. I felt the need to be strong to protect them from grief as best I could..
I can remember clearly saying to myself that I had to immediately turn on my UTILITARIAN THINKING MODE.
THAT IS A TECHNIQUE I LEARNED MANY YEARS AGO ! Simply put , you strip everything down to just the essentials and having identified that, deal with them accordingly in a pragmatic and functional way. In other words in this case, dismiss emotion and focus on practicalities.
This very week I have read that it is now advised to treat Cancer as a JOB!
To explain that fully it means being in control of what has to be done, as follows:
1. Get your head round the administative necessaties. You will need to organise yourself for what seem to be at times, endless appointments for chemotherapy session, check ups, scans, meeting with Oncolgy Staff etc.etc. Idealt with this in two ways. Firstly I opened a file system in my study where all communications were filed and secondly, and even more importantly, appointed my wife as unpaid PA/ Secretary, Nurse and General Administrator..
THAT WAS A KEY DECISION BECAUSE NOT ONLY DID IT GET PRACTICALITIES COVERED, IT INVOLVED HER IN MONITORING PROGRESS AND TAKING PART IN THE PROCESS OF RECOVERY . In this way her emotional trauma was held in check and she could then welcome the progress by noticing it clearly as we followed the pathway.
2. Take a clear unbiased view of who and what you would listen to and take on board.
So many people known to you become either tongue tied or otherwise garrolous in pressing advice upon you, that if you were to take it personally, you would send them off to hell in a hand cart. As far as the condition and treatment was concerned I made a concious decision to only listen to and debate with my Oncology team on major issues to me at any given time. Chemotherapy sessions were the time this was most important, for fellow patients and their friends are guilty of talking such twaddle in the waiting room and chemo clinic. If you listened to all you would feel the only way out would be to throw yourself under a bus at the first opportunity.
3. Avoid Internet pages like the plague. The internet like all things in this life has positive and negative uses. Checking out the diagnosed condition on internet pages can cause more harm than good to so many. The art of Positive use of the internet is a closed book to so many who access it. Stick to listening to your own medical team is key advice here.
Learning from Others.
The points I make above should not be taken to allude to me taking an "isolationist" view of dealing with Cancer. Were that the case I would not have catalogued my journey with it so comprehensively on Hub Pages. Others take a different course and turn to the more traditional way of writing a book to put over their points and I have no problem with that. In my case I wanted to put out my story so those who wished could read without charge wherever they were and if so motivated support a Cancer Charity subsequently.
Recently I came across the story of another Cancer sufferer and was much impressed with her attitude and found it in concert with my own.
This lady was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in 2011, the time I was completing Chemo. Now despite knowing that her Cancer, which is now in bones and liver will be with her till death, she continues to mount a very POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE.
SHE, LIKE MYSELF AND OTHERS HAD TO LEARN NOT ONLY WHAT THE SEEMINGLY ENDLESS PRACTICALITIES WERE, BUT WHO COULD BE RELIED UPON TO HELP POSITIVELY AND RELIABLY.
At the same time at the other end of the spectrum she realised the importance of sieving out those who offer wrong advice for the wrong reasons and effectively are more concerned about themselves than the sufferer the "advise" She terms them narcissitic and found there are many around sadly.
Dealing with well meaning people can be difficult. I can recall not feeling too welcoming to even good friends when feeling shattered after chemo etc. Practical means of contact can be established by persuading friends to text or email as these can be responded too without taking up too much reidual energy when little is available. Ladies also are cagey about comments on their appearance, especially if chemo has taken their hair for example and even males know that when you feel rough someone saying you look good just does not wash.
The examples above are chiefly common sense but they prove the point that often friends and family do not know what to say whilst feeling they should say something. Perhaps keeping their counsel till they are clear is good advice.
As I said at the outset, being diagnosed with Cancer is a major shock to the system both to the patient and close family and even friends. I know of no better way as a patient to assist the recovery process than by adopting a POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE at all times . Now, I am also convinced that family especially can aid the patient by adopting the same type of pragmatic thinking. It appears too many spend too much time "worrying" As they can do nothing about the medical process then helping with administrative and practical issues can not only be a help but theraputic for them also.
All in it Together.
The main thing I have gleaned from recent reading on this subject is no different in basis to what I have always believed to be true, namely that the patient must be prepared to fight back by Positive Thinking. Now however it is clear to me that this also obtains to those closest to the patient. Negativity may well kill, whilst positivity can aid cure is the mantra that I am seeking to get across to all and sundry finding themselves facing this problem. The patients MUST be positive and the circle around them likewise to give the best chance of securing a happier outcome.
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