Being diagnosed can extend your life because you can now start the battle.
It’s going to be hard, dealing with the unfamiliar world of advanced stage cancer. Your health, and even your life, depends on it. The vocabulary is different; expectations are different—all along with underlying fear. Taking time to educate yourself will not only reduce fear, but will help you survive longer. Read all you can and speak with others who have already walked the path. Ask questions; examine options; get second and third opinions; carefully choose which doctors you bring on to your team. Finally, always remember that over your life’s journey, cancer is little more than a rock, or perhaps just a pebble, on the path.
Many of us find that when we have been given a cancer diagnosis we spend more time thinking about life. Not bad idea.
You have more time than you think. Never allow artificial time limits to pressure you into making decisions you are not yet comfortable making. Take all the time necessary to learn all you can so that all your decisions are the best-informed ones you can make. Except for the most aggressive cancers you have ample time to educate yourself as much as possible so that you are able to make good decisions.
Once you have made an informed decision and carried it out, never look back. Looking back in regret about what is past is pointless and will only drive you crazy. The path is always forward: continue to learn about your disease and always look ahead. What counts is today and what lies in the future.
Yesterday is gone, so forget it.
If you educate yourself as completely as possible and you took the time you needed, you will always know that no matter the outcome of a particular choice, you made the best possible decision. That knowledge that you have thought your decisions through carefully is what is really important—and may be more important than the decision itself. An occasional “pity party” might be healthy as long as it is only occasional and brief. It is important to get over it in time to continue to live your life happily and take the next step in dealing with your cancer. Never feel bad for yourself about a poor outcome. You will never know if a different decision might not have actually been worse. Again, the only thing that matters is today and tomorrow. Let go of yesterday and live only in the present.
You always have choices so choose to always be positive.
Remember: Treatment decisions can be changed. When you begin a particular treatment you have not signed a lifetime contract to continue it. Just because a treatment is supposed to last for one year never means that you are required to do it for one year. Possibly, its side effects are so overwhelming that you no longer have an adequate quality of life. Also, new options continue to come along. Some of them may be a better choice. You don’t need to continue to stick it out. Just make sure you are completely informed about the possible consequences of changing your treatment decision.
You are in charge. Not your doctor and not your family. They need to be consulted and their opinions and ideas should carry weight as you make your decisions. But never forget: it is your life, your today, and your future. Make the best possible, fully educated decision that makes sense for you. But to repeat: make sure that you have taken the time to learn all you can and that you understand the full implications of your decisions. Remember, you are in charge.
There is never room for should haves or could haves.
All treatments have side effects. Some of them may be difficult. Just take one day at a time. Keep your life in a manageable perspective, one that you can get through and finish. Break things down to a manageable level, even if it means taking a week a day at a time and a day an hour at a time. As each hour passes and each day passes, you are that much closer to the end of treatment. We don’t eat our dinner in one gulp; we eat it bite by bite, each in a manageable portion. Cancer treatment is no different.