The Big C
The word cancer had some of the worst connotations in our modern lives. Being faced with a diagnosis of cancer is incredibly frightening, and the emotional ramifications of it can be just as intense as the physical symptoms, treatment and side effects.
The shock of hearing you have been diagnosed with cancer can be overwhelming and you may not feel like you are hearing much of what the doctor is saying. There is nothing wrong with asking your doctor to repeat themselves or even to write down pertinent information for you. Some cancer patient even record their appointment (with their doctor’s permission) so they can come back to the information at a later time.
A second option is a valuable step to consider. It can give you piece of mind that you are making the right decision for your health and possibly open up more treatment options that you may not have been aware of. Getting a second opinion is very common after a cancer diagnosis and you should not feel worried that your current doctor will feel offended, they won’t! The NHS or The LOC can put you in touch with an appropriate specialist as well as provide other information and resources that you may find helpful.
What to Expect
Everyone one is different, and it is important to know that there is no right or wrong way to handle a diagnosis of cancer, there is only how you will handle it.
Feelings of grief, fear and depression are common and are valid. It is also very common to not feel anything at first. An initial feeling of numbness is also understandable and ok.
One cancer survivor told us that the night before their appointment to discuss treatments plans and outcomes was one of the worst moments of the whole experience, because of the uncertainty of not knowing. Not knowing what to expect, not knowing what the prognosis looked like and not knowing what the coming months were going to entail. Once a plan of how to move forward was put in place there was a sense of relief because at least now the beast had been named, so to speak. The unknown is always more frightening than the known and our imaginations have a tendency to work against us in negative setting such as these. Being well informed can seem like a large and comforting step forward for after the initial diagnosis.
Researching your cancer can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, knowing what you are up against can help give you a feeling of control about the situation and a better understanding of the disease may make your feel more confident about decisions around treatments and options. on the other hand, you can find just about everything and anything on the internet and stumble down rabbit holes of questionable authority may do more harm than good, just because something is written on the internet doesn’t necessarily mean it is true. A good place to start is with well known organisations such as Cancer Research UK or Macmillan.
The Cancer Warrior Conundrum
A common theme in dealing with a diagnosis and living with cancer is the idea of the cancer warrior. Much of the language we see from cancer charities is all about being a warrior, kicking cancers ass, remaining strong, being a fighter. For some people, this can be a comfort during a difficult time, a feeling of overcoming and fighting can be positive on a person outlook.
It is ok if that does not work for you. People succumb to cancer, not because they weren’t ‘strong’ enough but because cancer is a serious disease. There is nothing wrong with feeling sad or bad about your condition, cancer will not get cured simply by having a positive outlook.
A Final Thought
Cancer does not get to define you. It may not seem like it now but you can move on from cancer. Many forms of cancer are considered curable, and even if you are being faced with cancer that had different outcomes you are still you! Your life is made up of far more than this disease, you are so much more than a diagnosis.