How do you tell your partner, parent or child that you have cancer?


th image credit: Good Search

If you’ve ever been re-diagnosed with cancer, how did you tell the people who were by your side through cancer before?

Some people openly talk about the concerns they have when they find lumps or bumps. I guess the atmosphere is set up for this a bit more when you live with a partner, parent, or child. Other  patients bring another person with them to every doctor appointment, or at least the ones they know they’ll be getting information that could change their life.

If you go to the doctor alone, and get the news, “you have cancer” or, “cancer is back” — how do you tell your partner, parent, or child? How do you tell your best friends? There’s something that seems to shift when it’s the second re-diagnosis; the third time of cancer.

It was the hardest thing I can recall ever sharing with my parents. It took me weeks to tell each of them, and a month to share with friends, and only as we’d plan to get together for other reasons.

If you’ve been tapped on the shoulder by cancer again, maybe you need to sit with the information before sharing it with others—who’ll seem to take it personally, and who’ll look at you genuinely hurt, shocked, and confused. These are the people you’d never in a million years set out to hurt. They’re the one who’ve pulled for you, and rooted you on during cancer the first, and second time. They celebrated your triumph, and closed the door with you on any thought of cancer coming back. They believed in you when you said, “I’m cancer free” and ” I’m done with cancer.” These people still believe in you. And for me, that’s why it was so hard to tell them—again.

A while back I wrote a post called, “Don’t let the diagnosis kill you.” I wrote it before I knew anything of my re-diagnosis. It’s been a great reminder for me when my mind strays to dark territories. We all die at some point. That’s the thing about life: You can’t get out alive. But that doesn’t mean we (with or without cancer) can mope around about the card(s) we’ve been dealt.

Look around you. You have awesome people in your life. You are loved. And by many people, you are loved unconditionally. Think of that! without conditions. Wow. Take it in. Breathe in life. If you’ve been re-diagnosed, I’m sorry. It’s tough on the psyche as well as the body. But hold your head high, tell your loved ones when and how you can. Keep in mind, you’ve had more time to absorb the news than they have.

I’ve always been a staunch believer of telling the truth, and in some cases, that means just telling it quickly. I didn’t see this one coming: I was visiting my dad. I thought we had 45 minutes together and alone before we headed out. When I went to confirm, he said, “No. We’re leaving in 10 minutes.” Oooo, not in my plan. I was waiting for my way-too-hot oatmeal to cool down. I still needed to put on make-up, and brush my teeth. I put down my breakfast spoon, mainly to ensure I didn’t fling oatmeal anywhere, and kept one eye on the clock.

I quickly apologized for the timing, and for the news itself. “—I have bumps again. Cancer is back.” My voice started to crack, but I was able to rein it right back in. We didn’t have time for my that, and it would only hurt my dad more, seeing me drop into a puddle of tears over something he couldn’t do anything about. His head lowered. I could see he was going into analytical mode. I picked up my spoon, and began shoveling oatmeal into my mouth, keeping my eye on the clock. “Sorry. It’s sort of complicated. They’ll do more testing, and I’ll keep you updated. I wanted to tell you face to face.”

Done.

I got up to wash my bowl, put on make-up, and brush my teeth. We left on time.

Wherever you are on this journey. Peace.

 

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The Importance of Encouraging Words


be positive Image Credit: Good Search

When you were diagnosed, or re-diagnosed, what was your reaction? Did you let your shock, anger, fear just come out in the office? Or did it hit you later? And, when it did hit, what was it like? Some people sit and cry. Some have a surge of fear or anger well up. Others turn analytical, turning their focus within.

Did you ever express your emotions as a knee jerk reaction in the exam room, only to be told by someone on the medical team, “Be positive.” That’s great advice, but I also think it depends when and where that advice is given. If you’re in the exam room and have just been diagnosed, or re-diagnosed, I think, “Be positive” is a cop-out for staff. They deal with the words all day, everyday—for cancer in someone else’s body. Even if it’s a re-diagnosis, it’s new information to you. If you’re the one who found the bump on your body, there’s still that phase where you don’t know if it’s cancer or not. There’s that waiting period. Blood test, biopsy, and maybe a scan or two.  I know it’s a matter of semantics, but hearing, “I’m sorry. Stay focused on the good” or “I know this is hard. Keep positive” has a better ring to it than, “Be  positive.”As if being positive will magically change the bump from malignant to benign over night.

For me, the doctor’s office is the place where I vent. I expect that to be the safe place for my complaints about side effects, and the place for me to ask tons of questions that have popped up since my last visit, or while hearing a new diagnosis. Being told to, “Be positive” at this point doesn’t help me. When I’m at home, I listen to hypnotherapy, beautiful music, and comedy. I walk the beach, or read New Thought books. I meditate. I pray. I surround myself with like-minded people, who will affirm good. I’ve just begun to travel again. I’m working a bit, too. My book is with an editor now. Being told, “Be positive” from a nurse as she hands me the doctor’s urgent orders for four tests, allows me to witness someone who’s uncomfortable with the moment. Ha! That makes two of us. . .

Like most people, I claim to be a positive person. For over thirty years, I’ve been steeped in New Thought (positive, practical spirituality). When I go dark, it feels very foreign to me. Even in really tough times, I can bring myself back to the Light, to break up the downward pull. Sometimes it means I come back to the Light 100 times a day. Like the Chinese proverb: Fall down seven times. Get up eight. It’s not about denying the dark side. It’s about denying the dark side, power.

It’s okay to be present with the diagnosis given you—but then you must decide how you walk this path. There will be moments you trip and fall. Your thoughts may go dark, you may hurt physically and emotionally. Tend to your wounds—then get up. Find the good in the situation. Find the good in life; in humanity.

If you hear, “Be positive” it’s because people want you to experience happiness. Cancer cannot take that away. (Well, okay, it can—but that’s because we drift off with it, giving cancer and it’s side effects the power to claim our life while we are still living.)

Ways to Manage Anemia


RedBloodCells image credit: Good Search

Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body. When there are too few number of red blood cells to carry oxygen your body needs, it’s called anemia. You may feel short of breath, weak, dizzy, faint or very tired. Your heart has to work harder and you may feel your heart pounding, or beating faster than usual. You’ll most likely become anemic during chemo.

Here are some ways to manage anemia:

  • Get plenty of rest. Sleep 8 hours at night and takes naps (1-2 hours) during the day. It’s a bit like wearing a belt and suspenders, but by taking extra precautions, you’ll come out ahead.
  • Stand up slowly when you get get up from sitting, and when getting up from lying down, sit a while before standing, otherwise you’ll feel dizzy, and have a greater chance of losing your balance, and falling – or at very least feeling awful until dizziness calms down.
  •  Prioritize activities that are important to you. You’ll be tired, so chose between doing this or doing that. Honor yourself by not piling to-do-lists, or activities up.
  • Accept help from others. If they offer, say, “Yes! Thank you!” If they don’t offer, ask. Is your child’s friend getting picked up from school by someone you know? Ask them to pick your child up, too. Who can cook? Who drives? Who can do chores, or errands for you?
  • You don’t want to eat, but do, and eat for calories and protein to keep your weight up, and repair tissues damaged by treatment. Anemia can cause your red blood cells to fall so low that a transfusion is needed. Rather than that, eat foods high in iron. split pea soup, watermelon, red meat, Braunschweiger spread (liverwurst) on crackers. Some of the cravings you’ll have will be way out in left field, but some of them are your body guiding you to iron, and calories. Just be cautious of calorie building that can easily form into unhealthy habits after the need  to keep your weight up is gone.

A link to more info on anemia

 

Attitude of Gratitude


image credit: Google

Attitude of Gratitude. There’s lots of talk about it. But how do you do it if it’s new to you, or when you feel low?

Keep a list or journal. Make a daily (or hourly) habit of gratitude. If it’s new to you, put it on your “To-Do” list. Otherwise, you’ll (subconsciously) find ways to keep you busy with familiar, “safe” things. This may be a challenge at first. Do it anyway. Don’t block anything from the list. Being thankful for clean, safe drinking water, and indoor plumbing is just as valid as being thankful for the neighbor who checks in on you, or food, or life. No judgment when doing this list. Some say they are grateful for cancer. Some are grateful for all the good that came out of it—the help, the health, and lessons learned.

If you know you won’t get up and get the journal if you’re not feeling well to read or write, put it somewhere with easy access. If you’re a television watcher, put it on the t.v. screen when the t.v.’s not on. I’ve shared this before, I had my “wall of gratitude” on the living room wall. I’d lie on the couch and read the wall—and always feel better after doing so. (I’d also think of more things to add to the list.) Where do you hang out? What’s the easiest for you? Set yourself up for success. I knew I’d never get up and go get a journal to read, or write in on days I didn’t feel well. I knew my list had to be up and “in my face” for me to use it daily. I knew that, and it worked for me.

Add to the list daily. There were a few days—not many, but a few— where I sat down and told myself I wasn’t allowed to move until I added at least one thing to my gratitude list. (I also had a “rule” that I wasn’t allowed to write the same thing twice. If I wrote something like, “Mary for driving me to chemo” I couldn’t write it again when she drove me again.) One particular dark day, I had a real tough time coming up with any one thing to add to my list. Then, I shifted my thinking from me to others. Several things came to my mind. It made me laugh, and I got to add one more thing to my list, “my awareness of people/things/events for which to be grateful.” Yes. When it’s dark enough, you can see the stars.

One last thing. Remember, you’re not always a treat to be around—cancer or not. It takes no effort to say, “Thank you” to your family, friend, grocery store worker, stranger, Higher Power, dog or cat. Even if you’re exhausted beyond words, a nod, slight smile gets the message across. You may not wake up grateful for life everyday, but you can thank those in it for making your life that much more enjoyable.

—And with an attitude of gratitude, thanks for reading this blog!

It Starts With a Feeling


 

 image credit: Google

If we’re not consciously tending to our garden of feelings and thoughts, we’re subconsciously allowing weeds to take over.

Are you happy? (Yes, you can still be happy in the midst of cancer.) If not, what would feeling happy feel like if it were in your experience right now? Feel the happy, not the not-happy for not having xyz here and now. Do you remember the commercial, “Calgon take me away!”? The scene switched from busy day and loud kids to the woman sitting in her bathtub, where she was “off in some tropical paradise.” Same for you! Don’t focus on wishing the kids weren’t screaming. Focus on “being in paradise.” What’s that feel like?

When I was first learning this type thinking on a deep level, I’d notice at conferences others had an almost supernatural high energy. They’d say they’d never felt better, and were so sad to leave the conference. I enjoyed the events, but never hit the high they did. I brought this to the attention of my spiritual director. She told me, these people were going to conferences for the energy and feeling, not necessarily to live the lessons taught. When these people left the conference they went home and energetically crashed, not having hundreds, or thousands of others who’ve done the work to skim from. By doing your work, you’ll know your feelings. You’d be amazed how many don’t know their true feelings. From feelings come thoughts; from thoughts come beliefs; from beliefs come actions.

By being in the present, we stay in power of our experience at all times. Yes. Got cancer. No. Not happy about it. Yes. Can be happy anyway. This doesn’t mean cartwheels, clown acts, and brushing over the feeling of loss, anger—or whatever. Nor does it mean you’re happy for cancer, but that you can find happiness. It means you choose not to give your power to the outer circumstance (in this case, cancer.)

I invite you to get serious about monitoring your feelings, thoughts and self-talk. Tap into your feelings without kidding yourself. “Oh it’s all fine.” Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. I dare say, if you’re in this boat, something has been lurking known—or unknown to you beneath the surface. I don’t believe we always need to know the cause of the situation, but if we’re willing to ask ourselves, a higher power for good, etc. we’ll know the cause if it’s needed for us to heal the cause of a situation. Otherwise, we can still heal without knowing the cause.

When you’re monitoring your feelings, ask yourself, “Does this feeling bring me close, or pull me away from what I want to experience?” If the answer is pulls me away, immediately draw your attention to where you want to be. It isn’t about a fake it‘til you make it. It’s about being real with where you are at any given moment, and making the commitment to do the best you can to get where you say you want to be. If you feel lousy, do what you need to do to help yourself feel better. Saying, “All is well” may be True on a spiritual level, but if you feel otherwise and need anti-nausea medication, it’s not the best time to practice a belief you can’t buy into. On the other hand, affirming “I feel lousy” is no help either. You can feel lousy and find something good on which to focus. (Even if it’s “Hooray, I have anti-nausea medication!”) By doing this, you’re admitting where you are on a vibrational level, and doing what you can to honestly move forward.

Quick! Run! Get a vase for the flower-thoughts! They are beautiful!

 

Related Sources: 

http://whatthebleep.com

http://www.abraham-hicks.com/lawofattractionsource/about_abraham.php

 

Neuropathy – Continued


  • Depending how severe, or when (if) you develop neuropathy, your doctor may decrease or change your chemo. You may be given a medication to help relieve the symptoms. I didn’t get very numb in my hands or feet until my last two chemo treatments. Then Wham! At one point, I couldn’t walk across my living room floor, so I crawled. The nerves in your fingertips and toes are furthest from the spine so it may take some time to recover, especially if you’re tall. Hang in there. Also, ask your doctor about your taking vitamin B, or Alpha Lipoic Acid for helping repair your nerves.
  •  Loss of balance is common after a mastectomy, and with neuropathy. If you’re having trouble with your balance, ask your doctor about physical therapy to help your balance.
  •  Avoid temperature extremes. Your hands and feet may be extra sensitive to hot and cold.
  • If you have neuropathy in you hands, be careful with sharp objects. The dulled sensation in your hands may increase the risk of cutting yourself, or not feeling a knife drop or move from your grip. I had others cut things like watermelon for me, or chop onions and celery.