IN HONOR OF NATIONAL CANCER SURVIVORS DAY:
In response to the egregious verdict of having cancer and learning to collaborated with the unknown of the process of understanding your feelings can be a shocking experiences to say the least. I will attempt to highlight what I learned and the wider issue it may raise in each one of us, in a partial aspect or as a whole. So how do people cope and adjust to it all on a grand scale. Most people respond to life threatening events in the following ways, shock, acute distress, looking for meaning, searching for mastery or a way to improve their self- esteem. Of course this all depends on the type of cancer you have, the stage of the cancer and the support of family and friends in your corner.
You ask your MD am I going to die? Will I have to lose a body part, such as your breast or other. Cancer has its own special place in the chambers of horrors. It is also hard to accept that the closest think to a cure is accepting mutilation and loss of your breast/s or other sexual organs. The questions of Why me? Why now? and even Why not me, instead of a family member? Getting 2nd or 3rd opinions is very common. The diagnosis drowns out your thoughts, until it all settles in and you come to terms with it, some do sooner then others.
The initial emotional reaction depends on the patients personality and attitude and how they were told about the diagnosis. Another way you may respond is saying to yourself that you know what cause your illness (looking for a meaning) as we search for an explanation of its cause and the implications for our life. We do so to win back a feeling that we have control over how we developed cancer in the first place and therefore can affect what happens in the future. At last but not least is improving our self- esteem, that you feel that you are better off then a lot of other people that has different forms of cancer.
You feel once the operation is over you can get back to your life again, in most cases it really is the beginning of the uphill battle to return to a normal life or close to the old life you had before. The time to grief for what you have been through is the first step and all the experience you undertook can cause a numerous ocean tides of emotions from shock, uncertainty, disbelief, fear, denial, anxiety, feeling a threat hanging over you with smallest change in your bodies, in case it means a return of the cancer. Most people eventually develop ways of coping and make sense of it by humor or comparing themselves to others.
Women who had a lumpectomy thank their lucky stars they do not need to have an mastectomy, while mastectomy patients thank God their cancer has not spread. At the end of the day the most important thing is that you can explain your cancer to your own satisfaction to yourself and therefore adjust to it the best you can. It you can do that, then you have freed yourself from the extreme horror of it all.