You may have read this post which was published on this blog where we spoke about the language of breast cancer. The warrior and cancer fighting metaphors are often based in power disclose and not something I think any cancer patient needs to be navigating when they are trying to cope with their journey with cancer.
The biggest issue is in managing the feeling of being out of control when stating the cancer journey and the sooner we are able to develop our own set of action plans that will guide our cancer experience, the sooner things start feeling better .
Each person living with cancer has different needs, perspectives, beliefs and coping styles and their action plans will reflect their life philosophy. It is of core importance that each person living with cancer decides on what they need to put in place to get back their control.
Some pointers in this regard are:
Getting information to assist making treatment decisions and understanding what your doctor is recommending and why. Needing information on the stage of the cancer and if treatment will be curative or palliative might be very important to you but another person may find this information devastating and overwhelming. The fact remains if you are someone who needs this level of honesty it is important that you get what you need as this will impact how you plan and live your life. It is important to ask for what you need. Don’t leave it up to poor oncologist to guess what your needs are if you are not able to indicate your preferences.
The emotional impact of your cancer is as important to manage as is the physical treatment of the illness. Your emotional wellbeing will impact the management of side effects and thus you do need to address the distress levels you are experiencing as soon as possible and you need a strategy to manage your emotional wellbeing. This does not mean you have to be “strong“. Again this language sets you up to fail! You have to be honest and open about where you are on your journey and if you are sad and overwhelmed it is important that you express your those emotions. Your emotional wellbeing impacts how you cope as well as your natural immune system. Crying and the release of your emotions are an important part of your healing. Expressing your emotions no matter what they are can be very healing and you need to create space for being gentle with yourself in this regard! Give space for expressing your needs verbally and otherwise.
Developing your own action plans for the different aspects of your life helps you write a new story where you are gradually reclaiming your life back from the cancer. In this story, you take back the control and decide on how you want to live your life despite the cancer!
Building a new normal is crucial, and you have to set goals.
When we are diagnosed with cancer we need to decide what we need to include in our action plans: for some people the chemo and radiation is enough. Others may want to do more, so look at diet, exercise, other complementary strategies, psychotherapy, spiritual practices , meditation , visualisation, art or music therapy and other creative strategies,
The fact remains that we need to find our own way to tailor make our treatment plan to contain the elements that you need to heal and the process of putting this plan together takes time and effort but please do make the time to engage in this process as it will assist your healing.