We all know that being diagnosed with cancer is something that is not readily accepted by the person suffering from it. You had your life planned out, and then the worst news hit you – everything is a blur. You think about how your family and loved ones will be once you’re gone, and it breaks your heart. Well, it’s not easy, and some even go to a therapist for additional emotional support and assistance. Hence, there are ways to live your life amidst your cancer diagnosis.
On the previous years of my life, everything was astounding. I have a loving family who is always there to support me in my school as well as career paths. I got surrounded by a lot of good friends that I hang out with, and I am living a life that pretty much has everything. But I guess there is never an ending to what God has planned for you. The perfection of my life that I thought I had begun to change when I got diagnosed with leukemia. Therapists, psychologists, doctors, and caregivers become my fortress. That is, of course, aside from the loving friends and family I already have.
How It All Begin
It was summer, and I was perfectly fine before the beach. I am enjoying the breezy and refreshing feel of the water until I blacked out and the wave crashed on me. I never knew what happened after that until I woke up in the hospital where everyone in my family has gathered around. They were sobbing and crying, and I was like, “I’m still, alive, right?” I am trying to hold my grip even though I knew there is something wrong. Then my mom had to break it. “You have leukemia,” that is what she said. I tried asking her again though I am sure I heard her correctly. I didn’t get the clarification I need because she did not respond. However, I started to feel the chill when she stared at me with tears in her eyes. Seriously, it felt like hell. I was only fourteen back then. What am I supposed to do? How should I react to the unfortunate news? Everything that day was blurry, and all I was thinking was, “Oh My God, I am dying.”
The Mental And Emotional Battle
After knowing that I had leukemia, I never felt the same. I am always sad and lonely. I felt so hopeless, exhausted, and unwilling to live. I get anxious all the time and frequently thought tomorrow I’ll be gone. I developed depression. I keep questioning people and God why it has to be me. I often get emotional breakdown where I cried my heart out night and day. I began feeling afraid of doing everything. I lose the interest of talking to people. I become so desperate into wanting to be alone. Everyone wanted me to find the light so I can try to move on, but I can’t. Everything in my mind has already disappeared. There is nothing in it that motivated me to look at the future once again. I am damaged, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
Leukemia left me broken inside and out. My life slowly began slipping into the waters of depression. I can no longer see faith in everything. Until one night, I began to write a suicide note that truly represents all the things I want to tell my family, friends, and the world. In my letter, I wrote down I was sorry. I apologized for not being the best. I thanked them for providing everything I need. I wrote down each of the things about them I love the most. I enumerated the experiences and memories I had spent with them that truly made me happy. I looked back and reminisced on my past, and I came to realize it was indeed an excellent reason for living.
After writing down all the things I am thankful for and reading my letter once more, something in my head hit me. I don’t want to die. I want to live. I realized I was too focused on thinking that I will never become happy again when, in fact, happiness is entirely in front of me. I was busy forming an idea that things will never get better, but I didn’t pay attention to those beautiful things I still have. I am not dead, and I can create and share memories with the people I love the most.
After that realization, I begin to picture out suicide as the most stupid thing I will ever have to consider. Never again in my entire life, killing myself will come across my mind. I am loved, and I love the people around me. I deserve to be happy. So as a message to all of those who are suffering the condition same as mine, realize one thing. Learn to value life because everything in it can make you smile, laugh, and dream.
There are more than 360,000 new cancer cases in the UK every year. Cancer doesn’t affect the physical body but also mental health. Being diagnosed with cancer is a life-changing event and anything that drastic can affect one’s psyche. Even after treatment, things aren’t expected to go back to normal, so patients are still concerned by illness, just in their mental state.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. That translates to 47,173 Americans dying because of suicide just in 2017. Moreover, apart from these suicide cases, 1,400,000 more suicide attempts were recorded. These numbers mean that for every single waking day, 129 people die while taking their own lives. Some reports diagnosed mental health concerns in more than 90% of the people who die by suicide. This state makes it valid to target the behavioral health’s improvement to at least lower the number of suicide incidents. Continue reading “Behavioral Health’s Contribution To Lowering Suicide Incidents In The US”
Most people think of leukemia as predominantly a condition seen among children, but it is something that adults usually have. It is more common in men compared to women, and more in whites compared to African-Americans. Families with loved ones inflicted with leukemia should have enough knowledge of what it is and how it affects the lives of their loved ones.
When I was a kid, I was diagnosed with cancer, and the doctor said there’s no source for a little bit of survival. He said that my parents should take me home so I can allow myself to live for a couple of years. The doctor insisted that there’s nothing they can do to help me. But my parents were eager and determined to look for ways. They believe they still got choices. They can either quit searching for a cure or continue fighting with the disease.
The Greatest Love Of All
My mom only asked me one question, and I know it somehow breaks her heart when I answered it truthfully. She asked me what I want if I have only one wish left. I promptly said, “I want to live and spend the rest of my life being happy.” She shed tears, and it was so painful to see her in that situation. But I have to act tough because it’s the only thing I can do for her at that time. At an early age, I want to know the chances of surviving cancer. That’s when I begin to understand the importance of hope in every battle.
In a very fortunate and unfortunate turn of events, my parents met a doctor who experiments on cancer-related drugs. He said their group is trying to give a trial test of cancer patients, particularly kids (read more about it here: babycenter.com). Within a month, most tested individuals passed away. And after a couple of months, only one survived the procedure – me. Though I felt a bit lucky, I know deep inside it is not the thought of being alive. I looked at my mom’s face, and I realized. It is because I don’t have the same pain as my mom every time she looks at the injection of drugs on us poor kids. She endured that moment of continuously hoping that something could have been better than that. From that moment, I thought life is entirely unfair.
One day, I was finally allowed to go home. I thought everything is going to be okay. But the doctor told my parents that even if I survived cancer, I wouldn’t be able to live a normal life. The possibility of going to school is at zero percent, and reaching my teenage years will be a miracle. But my mom never listened to what the doctor said and believed in a miracle instead. That’s because she hoped I would get better. My mom started arranging things for me by setting up a great environment, providing me with healthy stuff, and always taking care of my emotional and mental development.
Soon after she delivered all her sacrifices, everything changed for me. I now live with my own family and now have a kid. So if there is one thing I learned from my experience; that is never to lose hope. There might be a lot of hiccups along the way, but that’s okay. The instilled hope in our lives is incomparable to anything in the world.
To say that getting a cancer diagnosis is saddening is an understatement. It entails that you have dangerous cells within the body that can travel and expand the problem areas. It means that you’ll need to take a handful of pills daily, possibly receive chemo- or radiation therapy, and pay thousands of dollars per appointment with the specialist. So, yes, that is beyond terrifying.
Some cancer patients end up developing depression because of it. After all, it’s easy to experience an all-time low when you hear that you’re already in the second or third stage of the illness. The comorbidity happening does not make the situation more manageable either. Your stress level heightens; you feel too hopeless to continue your treatments.
In case you want to snap out of your miserable thoughts, you should do these positive changes.
- Learn About Your Cancer
When I got diagnosed with a blood disease, it was so surreal for me. The doctor was saying, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have cancer.” Then, he began to mention the medications I could try to eliminate the cancerous cells. He also told me that I should consider chemotherapy if pills are not enough to cure my illness.
During a session like that, you tend to feel helpless since you are suddenly facing a massive battle with your body, and there’s a high probability that you’ll lose. You might fear the unknown as well, considering the specialist only explained the disease briefly before moving on to talk about treatments.
If your goal is to avoid depression, you shouldn’t be afraid to learn more about your type of cancer. Say, what physical symptoms will you go through when it flares up? Are there foods that you have to forego? How fast will the illness spread? Your physician should be able to answer all of that and more. Alternatively, you can also use the internet to become knowledgeable regarding your ailment.
- Stop Pushing Loved Ones Away
You won’t merely see cancer patients leaving their family behind after getting a diagnosis in the movies. I have heard of old parents who act rude and temperamental around their kids to hide their pain. Some couples split because the ill person doesn’t want to be a burden in the other fellow’s life.
Although the depression and the drugs you’re taking make your decisions wobbly, you should never push your loved ones away. It is especially true once you reveal your disease to them, and yet they still wish to be with you. That signifies how much loved you are, to be honest. Thus, be thankful for having these special people around you.
- Avoid Hating Yourself
In your most depressed state, you might say, “Why am I so weak?” “Why can’t I have a strong body that is never prone to cancer?” “Why aren’t the treatments 100% effective on me?” If the hopelessness becomes severe, you may even stop showering, changing clothes, or eating. You assume that those mundane activities are no longer necessary since you’re going to die sooner than later.
The truth is that cancer won’t be the cause of your death in this scenario. It will be your negativity. You hate yourself; you hate your situation. There’s no sense of being patient with you. It’s like you don’t want to wait for months or years for the medication to work.
However, you ought to realize that such depressive thoughts can only worsen your situation. The more you absorb that negative energy, the more you might suffer because of it. The simplest way to make your life manageable is to strengthen your intrapersonal relationship and believe that you can beat the illness.
Cancer, frankly speaking, is not the easiest opponent to crush. You may go through many things to win over it. The treatments you’ll submit yourself to may have awful side effects. Nevertheless, once you persevere and keep depression out of your system, you’ll inadvertently increase your chances of overcoming the illness.
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Way back when I wasn’t dealing with cancer yet, there was a female colleague who got diagnosed with it. Her condition was a hush-hush topic around the office, although everyone seemed to be up-to-date about her well-being. People became extra caring to this person as well, to the point that they didn’t allow her to carry the laptop bag or a bunch of files.
As for me, well, I didn’t talk to the colleague much. The ultimate reason was that I had no clue of what to say to a cancer patient. Was it cool to ask if she was okay when I already knew that she’s far from feeling that way? Would she become offended if I compliment her new hat that covered the baldness brought by radiation therapy?
Ever since experiencing almost the same things that that person had to go through to beat the C word, though, I can now tell you the things that cancer patients don’t want – or need – to hear from anyone.
Advice Regarding Activities They Should Have Done To Prevent It
The initial topic you should avoid is the one that involves the stuff that the ill folks should have or have not done to thwart the illness. You don’t have to become Mr. or Ms. Know-It-All and enumerate the things they did wrong in the past. That is their doctor’s job, not yours.
The best subject matter to focus on is the activities they can do now to keep the cancer cells from spreading. You may also get out of your way to search for those happenings on the patient’s behalf so that they realize that you genuinely care.
Questions About Survival Rate
Furthermore, you need to stop yourself from asking about the number of months or years that patients of a specific type of cancer have before succumbing to the disease entirely. That will be no different from inquiring when you’ll have to send flowers to their funeral.
There are better questions to throw than that, you know. “What foods can you have?” “Do you want me to accompany you on your next treatment?” “Would you like me to drive you home today?” As long as you don’t ask regarding their survival rate, it’s all good.
Being Compared With The Person They’re Talking To
It’s an unspoken rule that you should never compare your previous health scares to that of another human being who deals with cancer when you have never had that disease. For one, you won’t be able to fathom the pain they experience before, during, and after chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The treatment may only go on for a few weeks, but the side effects might still be apparent even if a year already passed.
It’s also rude to speak of the possibility of getting misdiagnosed, especially when the fellow has blood cancer. The symptoms of leukemia, for instance, are as bright as the day since the bruises appear in odd places and wounds don’t heal immediately.
Finally, you ought to keep in mind that cancer patients want don’t want to hear nothing from you. They may have thought long and hard before deciding to tell you the scope of their health condition. The least you can do is react to it in any way.
When you choose to stay silent because you don’t know how to comfort that individual, it’s likely for them to take your speechlessness wrongly. They might assume that you feel disgusted or that you are already coming up with a plan to cut ties with them. Though both ideas are far from reality, they won’t know the truth if your mouth remains shut.
Thus, even if you can’t form coherent sentences after hearing the unfortunate news, you shouldn’t forget to say something. Anything is better than nothing, after all.
You can’t always expect people to know the right words to say in front of an ill individual. Cancer is known as a terrifying illness; that’s why some folks tend to commit the mistakes above. Despite that, in case you don’t wish to have to forgive your naïve friends, relatives, and officemates all the time, it won’t hurt to inform them in advance of the things you prefer not to hear from them. Ever.