On this day 2 years ago I was sitting in a hospital room surrounded by my family, doctors and nurses. I honestly don’t even remember half of what was said because as soon as the doctor told me “It is cancer,” everything around me stopped. It literally stopped. The world wasn’t rotating anymore. The birds stopped chirping. Everything just froze. My whole life was flipped upside down and I didn’t know what to do. This is something that you don’t really get to prepare for so when the doctor told me what he did, I didn’t know what to say. I honestly can’t really remember what happened next but I do remember the day nurse I had was holding my hand and I just thought to myself that I needed to be strong. I needed to be strong for her. I needed to be strong for my family. I needed to be strong for myself. At that point I don’t think I even cried. Which is saying a lot because I seriously cry over anything. I am crying right now as I am reliving what had happened.
But before I go on, let me stop for a minute and tell you why I am telling you this story and why I am writing this post. I honestly do not like like talking about this subject very much. It is hard for me to admit that I had cancer. Yes, I said had. On December 16, 2015, my oncologist told me I was cancer free. But it is still a hard thing for me to admit. Although I felt that I did need to tell this story, not only for me but for those who have also been affected by this horrible disease. So I thought I would turn this horrible experience into talking about the great things I have learned from being diagnosed with cancer.
You can never be fully prepared for cancer. No matter how you prepare yourself or your support system, it is a difficult. But I did find some things that helped me make it a bit easier. From early morning appointments to get blood drawn to 4+ hour chemotherapy appointments, it can be hard on your and your support system.
So here are some things that I have learned since being diagnosed with cancer…
You are not alone.
I honestly felt like I was alone a couple times but then I sat there and thought of the amazing support system I had with me the every step of the way. Not only do you have your support system, but there are also people across the world going through something similar to you. When I was a going through treatment, my father was also battling his cancer struggles as well. Even though our treatment plans were completely different, we had different cancers and different doctors, we were still in it together. We both never talked much about it but we knew that we weren’t alone. And you don’t have to be alone either.
Accept your feelings.
You are going to be feeling a lot during this time. Like literally a lot. You will feel anger, sadness, happiness, strength, eagerness, irritation, annoyed, discouraged, skeptical and lost. You will want to just dismiss these feelings but I found that if you accept them & embrace them, then you will feel so much better in the long run.
When you are going through something like this, you are going to encounter many different obstacles. You are also going to have to make a lot of decisions. So before you do anything, make sure you ask enough questions. (refer to the next tip below for more)
Always have someone with you.
It is easy to feel like you want to. do this alone. I thought about it at some point too but it so much easier on you and your support system if you have someone with you. One thing I learned early on was that I always had someone with me at all time. Whether I was going to treatment, meeting with a doctor or staying overnight in the hospital, I always had someone with me. Like I mentioned earlier, you might get news or information that doesn’t set well. There were couple times where I froze or missed what the doctors were saying because of shock. But since I always had someone from my support team, they were there for backup.
Find your team.
I was very lucky to have the team & support system that I had. My whole family took turns staying with me, they were there for every appointment or treatment and helped me keep track of all the information. Your support system isn’t just your family and friends. This includes your medical team as well. I went through 3 different gynecologist’s before talking with my oncologist and deciding with him what would be best for me and my condition. Make sure your team is right for you.
Always remember to take a deep breath.
This is a simple one but also a very important one. When you are about to start treatment or going to meet with a doctor, take a deep breath. It will get you in the right mindset and clear your head before anything.
Take advantage of the free services.
I did all my treatment through Duke Cancer Center and one of the best things that they offered were all the free services. They had yoga services, therapy and so many more that they offered to the patients & family. These classes are great and you should totally take advantage of them, I know I did!
It’s your decision.
Lastly, I think the best advice that I got from my family was that it was my decision. Whether I had to decide what treatment or what I was eating that day. It was my decision. I had my support system to help me come to a decision but ultimately, it was my own decision.
If you would like to hear the rest of my story, leave a comment below. I was thinking about putting together a post but I just haven’t yet but if anyone would like hear it, I would be happy to write it up.
Thank you again for coming along this journey with me. I hope that this helps you or your loved one get through their diagnosis with cancer.