[vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][image_with_animation image_url=”908″ alignment=”center” animation=”Fade In”][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”50″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text]Most of us go into a cancer diagnoses with practically no real understanding of the challenges we will face along the way. It’s particularly hard for these bits of wisdom to be passed from survivor to survivor because we all experience cancer differently. No one else’s experience will dictate our own. However, there are common experiences that when shared with those who are newly diagnosed can make an agonizing journey a little less painful. We asked a group of survivors what where some of the things they wished they would have known about cancer when they were first diagnosed and here are some of those bits of wisdom:
Some friends you think will be your best supporters will fail to “show-up” during cancer and others you barely know will be standing at your side for the long haul. It’s one of the more painful lessons cancer can teach, but often a common experience that survivors talk about. There is no one reason this happens. Some friends truly don’t understand how meaningful that mental support is for a person with cancer and other just can’t deal. Maybe it’s the awkwardness that comes when you don’t know what to say to a friend with cancer or perhaps your diagnosis brings painful memories of someone they have lost. The point is… it’s not about you. It’s something within themselves that hold them back from fully supporting you, but that doesn’t make it hurts any less.
It’s okay to be sad and feel sorry for yourself during cancer. You don’t have to be a “hero” all the time. Being positive is awesome and science supports it’s therapeutic affect, but don’t make a habit of covering pain with false positivity. Let yourself feel sadness. It’s natural and healthy. Leaning into the pain can bring emotional healing. Remember this is a process and you are probably going to feel every emotion imaginable so acknowledging the emotions is part of working through them.
Don’t lose hope by focusing only on cancer statistics. It’s natural to want to understand your prognosis, but cancer statistics have to be read in context. Remember they are statistics for large groups of people and may not consider factors that are unique to you. They can vary dramatically by many variables. They are also by nature five years old and many not reflect current advances in treatment. So don’t lose hope in statistics. They are only one factor to consider among many others.
Connect to other cancer patients. Cancer friends can be the best friends. Part of the struggle is that it can feel like you are living on a different plane of reality from family and friends and that is hugely isolating. Developing relationships with other people with cancer can make you feel understood. Commonly, we start to feel friends and family are tired of talking about our cancer and it hurts to feel burdensome. Having other friends going through the same thing allows you to say what you are actually thinking!
Healing after cancer can be just as hard as fighting during cancer. I remember someone telling me this when I was first diagnosed and thinking this couldn’t possibly be true. I mean the problem is the cancer so when it’s gone you should feel fine, right. It’s not always that simple. For many us we realize cancer has forever changed us and we don’t relate to the world in the same way. We may have new values that aren’t congruent with they way we are living our lives. We may be dealing with long-term changes in our bodies and lives. As a survival tactic we may not have let ourselves feel the emotional pain of cancer while we were in treatment and now those flood gates are open and emotions coming pouring in. Even though friends and family are congratulating you and the doctor says he’ll see you in four months, it doesn’t mean you will magically feel like the old you again. Be patient. Be kind to yourself.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]