5 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was Diagnosed With Cancer

No one thinks it’s going to happen to them. No one has the time to deal with the diagnosis, and no one can ever be prepared for how the cancer will effect their family – but ready or not, here it is.

This list of tips is a collaboration of personal experiences, and collective wisdom from around the web. So whether you have recently been diagnosed with cancer, or you know someone who has, this is something we can all appreciate and apply to our lives!

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr

5. Tell your kids a truth they can understand

It’s the first thing that pops into your head after coming to terms with what just came out of your doctor’s mouth. Will my family be ok? How are we going to tell the kids? Obviously every family dynamic is different, but when you are the mother of children who still live at home, your plan of action needs to be set in place sooner rather than later.

The best piece of advice I’ve heard on the subject is to not hide anything, be upfront and honest. That doesn’t mean your 6 year old needs to know the size and origin of your tumor, or the details of the treatment plan. But kids are much more observant than we often give them credit for, and they will figure out what’s going on eventually. You should be the one to tell them, and be open for discussion. Some key points to hit up might be: you are sick, but it’s not contagious; you might not have as much energy to do everything you used to do, but you still love them; and most importantly, that they are loved and you will get through this as a family.

Photo: Adobe Stock/JenkoAtaman

4. Make your evenings cancer free

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Once the word gets out, friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and everyone who ever knew you will want to call and check in. And while they all mean well, it is overwhelming. Most calls and visits happen at night, after everyone is off work, and chances are, that’s when your spouse and kids need you most. It’s ok to let the call go to voicemail, or request that visitors schedule another time to come over. Those who are willing to stick it out for the long-haul will work a way around your schedule.

The focus of your evenings should be rest, relaxation, and enjoying your family. End the day on a good note, not thinking about cancer. There will be plenty of time to worry about it in the morning.

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr

3. It’s Not your fault

There are endless theories on what causes all different kids of cancer. Some people say it’s stress-induced, or from years of eating too much of this or too little of that. Do you know what doesn’t help after finding out a lump in your boob is malignant? All the things you coulda-shoulda-woulda done differently had you only known what to do or not do.

The most important thing you need to know, is that this isn’t your fault.

You’re not a bad person, you did nothing to deserve this. Life happens, certain stresses are unavoidable, and we are all wired differently. So while your friend goes on and on about her no soy, no dairy, no gluten, sparse sugar, lean-protein only diet and how she’s going to live 100 years because of it – understand that that is her way of controlling the uncontrollable, and you should not let that shame you in any way.

Image via Flickr with modifications
Image via Flickr with modifications

2. Ask for and accept help

You are strong. You are a fighter. You are beautiful, wise, and wonderful. You also need help, and that’s ok. We all struggle in coming to terms with how much we can and can’t handle, and the stress of your new normal wears on you in different and unexpected ways.

Reach out to your loved ones. They want to help, but don’t always know how.

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr

1. Get a mantra. Say it often.

This may sound cheesy, but on the days when you find yourself holding your breath, or the waves of anxiety threaten to pull you under – having a few mantras and visualizations on hand may mean the difference between a good day and a bad one.

Some people have a favorite hymn they like to sing, or a poem or encouraging phrase. It might be something someone wrote to you in a letter, or lyrics to an old song.

Image via Pinterest
Image via Pinterest
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