As I wrote in my last post, if you are a woman who has never been diagnosed with breast cancer, you most likely know someone who has. The illness is so widespread that The National Cancer Institute says that a woman in the United States has a 1 in 8 chance of getting it. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer found in women after skin cancer, but the good news is that more women – an average of 89.6% according to the Cancer institute – are surviving five years or more after being diagnosed. Two of my close friends are breast cancer survivors, and one of them has passed the five-year mark. A younger cousin passed away last year.
Here are some things the National Cancer Institute recommends you can do if you have been diagnosed with cancer:
Get support – Cancer not only affects how you feel physically, it also affects your emotional health. You may feel afraid, depressed, helpless and hopeless. Some people may not want to tell their loved ones they have cancer because they do not want to scare them. I understand this, but I think that when you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, it’s not a time to be alone. In the case of my cousin mentioned above, she withheld the news from her family for a long time. When she did tell them, she was near death.
You may live alone and not have any family members close by. There are many support groups all over the country that you can join. Being around people who are either going through the same thing as you, or have gone through it, can give you a feeling of belonging and hope. You can also learn coping strategies for dealing with your illness. One of my friends says she has benefited tremendously from those groups.
Beware of feelings of denial – If you’re diagnosed with cancer, you may ask yourself, “Could this really be happening to me?” You may even become angry, but do not allow denial to prevent you from starting treatment. Speak to your doctor or a counselor if feelings persist. The sooner you begin treatment the better your chances are of surviving. My cousin also waited a long time before starting treatment and that caused her cancer to metastasize throughout her body. Don’t let this happen to you.
Have a positive attitude. This will help you as well as those around you cope with the changes you are experiencing. As I wrote in my welcome post, I am a firm believer in God and look to Him for support and strength when I need it. Even if you are a believer, keeping a positive attitude and hoping for the best outcome can help you survive this disease. Scientists are actually studying the effect that a positive attitude has on healing.
Stay active – Try to keep up with your day-to-day activities as much as possible, but rest when you feel tired. Take a walk. Listen to music. Spend time with friends. If you have the time, start a hobby you’ve always wanted to take up. Pray, meditate, keep a journal, practice relaxation exercises. Regard each day as a blessing.
There is so much more I could say about coping with cancer, but I think I’ve said enough to give you a general idea of what you can do if you’re in this situation. If you know someone who is, please pass on this information to them. And if you’re finding it difficult to cope with stress or depression as a result of illness or any other situation, maybe I can help you. In the form below, just leave a short note about your major concern, and I will get back to you.
Also, I am still waiting to send those bangles I told you about in my last post. Just fill in the form below and say, “Send me my bangle.” Until next time, stay healthy.
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