Once the diagnosis of your cancer is declared, life changes forever. Living with cancer diagnosis becomes almost unbearable, what with the possibility of death facing you in the face. Challenges arise. They are
- physical challenges,
- emotional challenges,
- financial challenges, and
- the fear of death.
It, therefore, becomes important that you do not let your life slide into negativity. You should learn how to live with cancer and cope with the challenges.
You can improve your life with cancer provided you educate yourself on a few things that will help you to maintain a positive attitude.
Just follow these simple easy tips and living your life after your cancer diagnosis won’t be that bad. They will help you cope with your cancer life.
Life after cancer
It will be beneficial for your life that once your cancer is confirmed, you must learn to accept it. This may take time but once you have accepted it, you must build up your willpower to fight and survive. Cancer statistics will tell you that 50% of cancer patients survive their cancer. Believe that you belong to that 50% and living with cancer will become easy. Cancer survival rates are showing a positive trend.
Your treatment(s) to cure your cancer will help you belong to that 50%. The goal of your extended treatment is to help you live as long as possible, possibly a full life. Your healthcare team will help you to fight the cancer symptoms and the side effects of your treatment.
Handling emotional stress of cancer
Once you have been diagnosed with cancer, you should start and stick to the treatment prescribed by your oncologist (cancer physician).
You should also avail the services of a psychiatrist because it is your mental setup and attitude, which is going to help you deal with cancer. The psychiatrist or psychologist will help you achieve that positive mental attitude and prevent you from sliding into a negative mindset.
Make every day count. Try to analyze what you have done throughout the day and see if you could have done it better for others and yourself. You have to forget the past and live with the present. With time, you will learn to adjust to the new life and cope with it.
Stay cheerful because sulking is not going to help. The least you could do is not to make life worse for your loved ones and friends. Because remember that they too are depressed with your diagnosis.
Your cancer has affected their lives as well. Staying cheerful will make you and those close to you, feel better. Remember, that your cancer diagnosis has made you the most cared for and watched person, and your cheerfulness will lift up the spirits and atmosphere in your house and amongst your friends.
Join a cancer group so that you are with people having your common interests. Discussions and interactions with such people will make you feel that you are not alone with this problem.
If possible, get a pet (a dog will be ideal in such circumstances). Believe me, if you are an animal lover, a dog is a great pet to have in the house. It reduces the stress and brings a more stress-free environment in the house. Having a pet will give you a feeling of being loved and wanted.
Coping with physical challenges of cancer
Handling the pain of cancer
Not all cancers cause pain but if yours does, life can be quite painful. However, you could do two things.
You have already told your oncologist about it and he has prescribed you drugs for the pain. So let’s leave the treatment part to him.
The second thing you have to do is increase your pain tolerance. This is something you have to do yourself. There are many ways to do it and you should adopt ways to try and increase your pain tolerance.
A few ways recommended are to (a) join group discussions with people who are living with cancer pain or (b) through meditation or (c) swearing loudly at the pain or and the list goes on.
Do use one or more methods which suit you best. Moreover, remember that this pain is temporary and will go once your treatment begins to take effect.
Handling the fatigue of cancer
The fatigue caused by cancer or fatigue due to cancer treatment is a feeling of being very tired and exhausted and this feeling does not go even after taking rest. This is a most common cancer symptom and also one of the side effects of cancer treatment, which can be quite debilitating. Your doctor will do what is necessary medically, like giving you nutrition supplements and advice. However, there are certain things you should do yourself to handle cancer fatigue.
- See a physical or occupational therapist.
- Do things differently to save energy. For example, try to cook while sitting on a chair or stool instead of standing.
- Take frequent breaks to rest or sleep.
- Do not do things that are not necessary or which someone else can do.
- Practice relaxation techniques.
- Have adequate sleep and good nutrition.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Avoid smoking and alcohol.
Remember that this fatigue is temporary and will go away once your cancer treatment takes effect.
Handling the sleep disorder caused by cancer
Insomnia or inability to sleep is due to the physical and emotional challenges you are facing. Your psychiatrist will help you deal with it by prescribing you proper medication but see to it as to how you can contribute to solving this problem yourself also. Follow these tips:
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Avoid sleeping during the day
- Avoid medicines that cause you to sleep during the day
- Avoid too much tea or coffee as they contain caffeine, which will disturb your sleep quality
- Avoid alcohol for the same reason.
Have proper nutrition
Proper nutrition is important and can contribute positively towards solving your other physical challenges. There is a specific diet for cancer, which incorporates foods you should eat and foods that you should avoid to help fight cancer.
Handling sex problems
There may be erection problems in men or vaginal dryness in women. It is necessary that you discuss this problem with your partner and more importantly with your doctor. You may need medicines for this problem or psychiatric counseling that can help solve your problem.
Coping with financial challenges in cancer
Though you may have planned your finances in life, cancer treatment is something that all of us may not be able to bear.
You had planned those finances with the security of your family being uppermost in your mind. And now, having to “blow up” those finances on your cancer treatment will shatter your dreams of leaving some retirement money for your spouse and money for education or marriage or business set up for your children. These thoughts will only increase your mental stress and worsen your physical and emotional challenges.
However, there are ways to get financial help for your cancer treatment. There are organizations and NGOs, which offer financial assistance to deserved people all around the globe.
All you have to do is search for them in your town or city. You could do a web search or you could ask your doctor who will guide you. There are thousands of people who have benefited from such organizations.
Handling fear of death in cancer
” The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. ”
- Anne Frank
It is natural that cancer will invoke the fear of death. Remember and draw courage from what has been mentioned above, that only 50% of cancer patients die of cancer.
Of course, it is different in those cases that are too advanced for treatment and your doctor has already admitted defeat. You can draw solace in the hands of god because it is faith in Him at times like these, which gives courage and strength.
For a cancer patient on the path to recovery, it is necessary to give more time for prayers and God even after the cancer cure.
Do not just pray for yourself but send out more prayers for others. This will give you an unexplained sense of satisfaction and hope.
And know that death is inevitable not just for you but for all… Living with cancer and successfully coping with it will then depend on your spiritual faith.