How do you begin to deal with a new cancer diagnosis? Laugh? Cry? Mentally check out? Eat vegan ice cream?
I did all of the above. I was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and let me tell you, .it shocked the heck out of me! I am the epitome of stellar health. A holistic nutritionist who drinks green juice by the pound, eats no processed foods, doesn't take drugs or alcohol, doesn’t smoke, and teaches people how to be healthy for a living. It can happen to anyone, clearly!
The most important thing to keep front and center is: Cancer is not a death sentence. At least, it doesn't have to be. It doesn't matter what stage you are or what type of cancer you have. The most important thing you need to take to heart at this point is HOPE. I’m stage 4 and I never once went to that dark place that said I was going to automatically die. Most cancers are pretty treatable, and I have very high hopes that I’ll be just fine. Believing is half the battle!
Still, the initial period after receiving such a serious diagnosis can be difficult. Here are five tips for coping with the coming changes in your life:
Yes, get pissed off and scream and cry and wonder why this happened. I will tell you I don't believe anything in life is a coincidence. I think any lesson this awful means that we're meant to address something bigger going on in our lives and come out on the other side a stronger, better person.
Come to terms with this diagnosis and try to do it fast, because you’re about to go on a whirlwind trip of tests, scans, more tests, biopsies and then be thrown into your options and chemo faster than your mind can catch up! A lot of people don’t even get to digest this news before they're thrown into things. Don't let this define you. This is simply something that happened; accept it and don't play the victim.
Allow love, allow gifts, allow companionship, allow grace, allow prayer, allow touch, allow anything positive and uplifting that anyone is willing to offer, because I promise you you're going to need it.
4. Be selfish.
This is the time to be selfish. My oncologist told me this, my surgeon told me this and my spiritual counselor told me this. Be selfish. You have nothing more important on your plate right now than your healing. Period. Focus on you, what feels good, how you need to structure your day, your eating, your life. Allow others to help, but be in control and don’t be afraid to pipe up when you need something or something doesn’t feel right.
5. Listen to your intuition.
This one was very hard for me since I live by my intuition. Being a holistic person, I was SO hopeful that I could treat my cancer naturally, but had a nagging feeling that chemo was the right treatment. I was also quickly told that treating it holistically was not an option due to my type, stage and area of cancer. This really weighed on my heart and scared me since I am against even taking medicine unless I HAVE to. Now I'm about to have poison injected into me?! That was hard for me to come to terms with, so keep an open heart and really listen to yourself when weighing your options.
Know that you're not alone. Find support groups if that's your thing. Connect with other people about what to expect, make fun of it and change your attitude to reflect optimism and faith that you’ll come through this with full health and a smile.