There is nothing that can compare to hearing those few words confirming that you have cancer – the C Word. You may have already known deep down or it could have come as a sudden shock.
One thing is for certain though, one thing I am absolutely sure of;
Cancer Scares People
Those words are delivered with such force that they take your breath away. An impact like no other hits you to your very core.
A friend of mine recently described the feeling so aptly, when she explained
“It is like standing at the edge of the sea, as the waves keep rolling in and over you”.
It is that. Exactly that.
One minute you are there in the room, the next minute you are elsewhere – as the haze descends.
And so, there are a few things that I have learned over this past year that I thought I might share.
I have sifted through the endless information that I have been bombarded with (and bombarded myself with). I have learned some things the hard way, I have used the powerful tool of hindsight, and I have rounded on 5 valuable things.
These things are just ‘bits and bobs’ that may perhaps help someone else to get through the haze to wherever they need to be, or perhaps even help friends & family to understand that little bit more.
They are positive things that you can do or that family and friends can perhaps help with. And most importantly they are things that you can control – in amongst all the things you can’t control.
The 5 things that I have learned..
#1 Do it your own way
Everyone is different, each diagnosis is different, every treatment plan unique.
Have a voice. If you disagree with a method or perhaps just need it explaining in a different way, just say. My breast care nurse has often said to me that there is no ‘normal’ way of doing things, everyone is individual and how true that is.
#2 Be kind to yourself
Admittedly, I am not very good at this one.
You experience a whole range of emotions from anger, to fear, anxiety and upset – perhaps even some sort of guilt. Use anything you can to distract from what can feel like a never-ending cycle. I use heat mainly, but music or massage or meditation can also help to relieve the build up of everyday pressures.
#3 Find an outlet (any outlet)
Having a cuppa and a chat can work wonders.
You may not want to talk, for whatever reason – perhaps writing a diary or a blog, or even an email would be better.
You could try exercise, just a walk for some fresh air or perhaps running for a charity to give you something to focus on. Swimming is also very relaxing.
#4 Surround yourself with those who care
Family and friends want to help.
You don’t need to be strong for someone, you just need to be there and being there is what really counts.
Sometimes you need a strong armour for those who say the ‘wrong thing’ – but on the whole people just care. Sometimes just knowing that you have someone to lean on gives you that little bit of strength that you need.
#5 Cherish the small things
There will be good days & bad days. That is a certainty.
All of a sudden life will be brought into sharp focus – the small things that you once took for granted, you will hold dear. Kind words, a touch of a hand, an old memory, a favourite song, and even the ever so precious element of time.
Cherish the small things. Every single moment.
Find joy in the ordinary.