Suggestions for Individual Approaches on Coping, Healing Yourself and Making Each Day Count

If you don’t feel comfortable with your diagnosis, you may need to get a second opinion.  Many doctors encourage this if it makes you more comfortable.  Usually, the patient returns to the first doctor after having it confirmed.  Sometimes it makes you feel in control.  It’s your cancer, your life, and your money.

Ask the doctor questions until you understand what you want to know about your cancer and the treatment.  Take a tape recorder to tape what the doctor says. Ask the doctor’s permission to do so.  What he or she says and what you think is said is often different.  Listen again away from the stress of the office.

Call 1-800-4-Cancer for information about your kind of cancer and the treatment options.  They will speak at length with you and send a lot of free information.  Learn about current research studies and clinical trials that could apply to you.

Educate yourself.  Read everything you can about your kind of cancer.  The library has many books as well as the vertical file.  If you don’t feel like going, send someone else to get the material.

Be thankful for chemotherapy and radiation.  As long as there is one more protocol or therapy available, there is reason for hope.

Don’t be hopeless, helpless, passive victims.  Participate in your recovery.  Accept at least 50% of the responsibility in getting well.  It’s your body.  Be in charge of it.  Realize ultimately that you have only yourself, and it’s up to you.  Just give doctors, hospitals and the treatments the other 50%.

Don’t blame yourself or feel guilty about having cancer.  Just start where you are now, and fight it.  Try to have a positive attitude, and make a commitment to do everything you can to help fight the disease.

Get through the stage of denial.  Some people deny they have cancer and do not want to talk or read about it.  If you have to do it for a short while, it’s all right, but it will still be in your mind.  Research has shown that people who can talk about their cancer, live better and longer lives.  Sometime, you do have to deal with your own mortality.  One doctor said that you have to grieve and feel as though there has been a death in the family because there has been a loss of a healthy body, perhaps body parts, a job, your dreams, financial stability, guarantees of the future, etc..

Realize that depression is inevitable.  Seek counseling if your depression continues for an extended period of time.

Find reasons to live.  Make goals for 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years.  Write them down and look at them often.

Discover new pleasures and release your feelings by writing in a journal, writing poetry, listening to calming music, learning to paint, making a cassette or videotape to tell of your experiences since childhood, doing crafts or woodworking projects, taking a short walk, watching the birds, playing cards—even solitaire, putting picture albums together, putting recipes in a book, etc.

Remember that you are not a statistic.  Many are alive years after being told they had only 3 months to a year to live.  For example, Richard Bloch of H&R Bloch was told in 1978 that he had only three months to live with lung cancer.  He sought treatment elsewhere and just passed away last year with another physical problem with no recurrence of his lung cancer. .  Only God knows, so fight to live.

Get rid of as much stress as possible.  If there is a lot of stress in your family, tell them in definite terms that you cannot tolerate it anymore as you are fighting cancer and that’s a big enough job.  Be firm and take a stand for yourself.  Stress suppresses the immune system.  Stress meditation tapes are on the market to help relieve your anxiety and to help you relax so you can sleep better.

Get dressed instead of lying around in a gown or pajamas, and put on makeup or shave.  You’ll feel better and look better.

Keep the mind busy, and keep as active physically as you are able as it helps keep depression down and strength up, but don’t overdo.  Let family members and friends help.  It makes them feel better.  If they want to know what to do, tell them to rub your back, legs or feet, wash your hair, take you for a ride, play cards or a game with you, talk about the good times you have had together, fix a dish for dinner, etc.  Ask for what you want.

Talk about your cancer freely to family and friends; however, don’t constantly dwell on your illness.  Be interested in them too.  Understand that you have the right to set the timetable for when you are ready to talk.  Others can encourage that readiness through their love and presence.  False cheerfulness and saying, “Everything will be all right,” by either the patient or family denies the patient the opportunity to discuss fears and anxieties.

Watch comedy shows; read humorous books and joke books.  Humor helps us survive as it reduces stress and stimulates the immune system.

Try to be with people who do not drain you emotionally.  Seek those who have a light touch and a good sense of humor.

Ask your physician, minister, or friend to match you with another patient if you are alone.

Pamper yourself.  You deserve it.  Do something you have always wanted to do, or go someplace you have always wanted to go.  Each day, take time to do something that you really want to do but have never taken the time.

Try the holistic approach.  This involves the stress meditation tape, imagery—visualization of cancer cells leaving your body-- biofeedback, diets high in fiber and beta-carotene, taking certain vitamins, etc. These can help you feel in control and that you are doing everything possible to fight the cancer.  Be sure to tell the doctor what vitamins or complementary medicines you are taking as some can interfere with the chemotherapy.

Go to support groups.  Family members and friends do not know how you feel unless they have had cancer too.  Research shows that cancer patients live better and longer lives when they belong to support groups.  Sometimes we need more than just treatments.

Strive to have the highest quality life you can have each day rather than living to die.  Concentrate on quality-not quantity.  Live in the moment.

Realize that cancer actually can be a blessing as we learn not to take things for granted.  We learn to appreciate life and each other more fully.  Decide that God may be giving you a second chance to live differently.  If you were killed instantly in a car wreck or by a heart attack, you wouldn’t have that second chance.

Be actively willing to resolve resentments, old wounds, and angers.  Forgiveness brings peace of mind.

Have quiet prayer and scripture time alone or with a mate.  I call Psalms 116, Psalms 118:17-18, and St. Mark 11:22-26 healing scriptures.

Remember there is no right or wrong way to “do” cancer.  Each person must work through in his or her own way, the feelings of possible death, of  fear, of anger, of bitterness, of  denial, and of isolation.  Don’t try to do everything at once.  Make changes only as you feel comfortable.  It’s your life.  Take control.

(Suggestions from patients and literature)      Coral Cochran  812-877-3025  E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.