How to Tackle a Scary Diagnosis
How to tackle a scary diagnosis
NEVER SAY DIE
Birth and death are the facts of life. We are all going to die one day. You may die of cancer, or else you may not. But there is no escape from death. Is there any need then to die each day? So long as you are alive, live each day.
Nobody can predict with certainty how long you are going to live. When the doctor says you have three months to live, he means that a large number of patients with a similar disease and symptoms died in three months. But, he cannot certify that you will too. There are quite a few who have survived for years and years after that. You must believe that you can be one of them too.
The scary diagnosis may not only be cancer, or again it might not only be about how long you have to live. It could be other diseases which may lead to change in your life pattern. It could be Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure, tumors, or mental illnesses. All these can confront you. So, what do you do? Do you become scared? Do you become horrified? Are you allowed to cry?
Whatever the diagnosis – life threatening or life – altering – the person goes through four stages :
The first stage is shock and/or denial. The person says no, it cannot be happening to me. He/she might refuse to accept the diagnosis and will seek a second or third opinion.
The second stage is anger and a feeling of guilt. Why me, the patient asks. Some people may turn away from God, blaming Him for their misfortune. Or, they may have feelings of guilt. God has punished me for my misdeeds, they may think.
The third stage is depression. There is a sense of complete hopelessness. Some of the symptoms are crying inconsolably, refusing to talk, giving up the will to do simple tasks., insomnia or loss of sleep. Suicide, although is not unusual in such cases.
The fourth stage is acceptance. The person accepts the illness and abandons anger and depression. He/she accepts the limitations of the disease and is ready to deal with it. It is only when they arrive at this stage that they find courage to deal properly with the problem and conquer the odds.
However, these stages do not follow one after the other as mentioned above. A person who has accepted the disease today might become angry and depressed tomorrow. All these feelings – anger, denial, guilt, self-pity, insomnia, frustration, despair, depression, are natural human emotions and nothing to feel ashamed about.
The sooner the person finds support from a person or group, the sooner they are able to fight back. The chance to fight for survival, therefore, is support and understanding. Have someone to talk with, who will listen and be a source of strength. This will help the patient immensely on the road to recovery.
One of the major worries that such patients in India face is finance. There are groups who help find necessary resources to meet the expences. And, there are people who have beaten the odds and survived.
Emotional support can come from a friend or relative. The internet can be valuable in your fight for survival. You can get informed about the intricacies of the illness and find various options for treatment on the net. You can also find out support groups for a particular medical condition. Learning all you can about your illness will help you a lot in making choices about your treatment. And, where survival is concerned every little advantage counts.
Fight against a Scary Diagnosis and win .....
Here is a brief view of how to fight against a scary diagnosis and win :
- Check your options via a second or third opinion.
- Build a support system through family and friends and the caregivers.
- Get better informed about your illness.
- Confront the illness.
- Make your doctor your friend.
- Get an interpreter who will come along with you to the doctor and can follow the information about the disease and its treatment and prognosis.
- Decide what is best for you.
- Shrug off those guilt feelings.
- Permit yourself to be human – cry if you must.
- Conquer the self-pity.
- Learn to help yourself. Do not collapse under the burden of the illness. Maintain your independence to do things for yourself as far as is possible.
- Put your house in order – if the chances are dim. Use your time to settle your affairs. These could be family, finance, relationships, anything.
- DO NOT GIVE UP. Nothing is final, only death is. So long as you are alive, there is hope. Medical science is making advances and the human body still holds many surprises.
- Life is so beautiful and we all live only once. Celebrate your life. Be grateful that you are alive. Enjoy.Take life on a challenge footing. Face the challenges bravely. And above all things have faith in God and His mercy. He gives only as much burden on each soul as much as he can carry.
- And PRAY. Prayer has great strength. It makes you strong mentally and psycologically. Prayer and meditation has a calming effect on your mind and soul. Make your peace with God. Leave your future in His hands ..... in His divine protection.
© 2008 Dr Kulsum Mehmood