I’ve been in a situation lately that requires me to spend a great deal of my day every day working intimately with cancer patients. Of those, some have just learned of their diagnosis and are still in shock. Some have been in treatment for awhile, but have not yet come to terms with the full reality of the situation. Some have been told that there is no curative treatment available to them and are wrestling with the idea that they will die of cancer.
I’ve said it before — every person reacts differently. I see shock, anger, denial, depression and hope. I see all of the above in the same person at different times.
Over and over again, I’ve met many individuals from all different backgrounds and all different stages of cancer talk about how difficult it is to maintain healthy relationship with the people that they care about after being diagnosed. I also hear from many patients about how individuals at the periphery of their life — friends and acquaintances at work or other social situations — tend to stay away during the time when they need them most.
On the other hand, I hear stories from friends and family who are at a loss on how to get things “back to normal” again. They want to help, but they don’t know how. For these people, I put together everything that I’ve learned in my experiences at work and at home into the following in a four-part series. Here’s the beginning:
Dear friends, family and acquaintances: I have cancer. Don’t worry, it’s not a death sentence. But then again, maybe it is – my doctors and I are trying to figure that out right now, and I’ll let you know as soon as I find out.
It’s weird not having much control of what’s going on right now. I feel confused and I feel scared. I feel like I don’t know what’s going on.
I’m trying really hard to be strong, but sometimes it’s tough. I’ve got a million things on my mind right now, and I know I’m not telling your everything that I’m feeling. Here’s what you should probably know:
I’m looking at my mortality straight in the face right now. Maybe I’ll die of cancer-related causes, maybe I won’t. Either way, this might be the first time that I’ve really come to face the fact that I will not live forever. Sometimes I might be angry, frustrated or depressed, and this is probably why.
There are sometimes when I can’t trust my body’s internal clock to be alert during the day and asleep at night. I’m going to get my rest when I can, so please don’t always assume that I’m going to be awake and ready on your time.
You want to know what I’m thinking about? I’m worrying about what will happen to my children, my spouse, and my family. Who’s going to take care of them? I know that it seems scary and big, but sometimes I need someone to listen to me talk about the gritty stuff.
Did you know that a single pill can cost up to $150? Did you know that I might need 30 a day? That’s not even including hospitalization, chemotherapy, surgery or any of the millions of tests that I’m going have to go through. Sometimes I’m scared because I have no idea how I’m going to pay for all of this. I might need help from someone else to help me figure out all these bills, and that someone could be you.
Make sure not to miss any of this four-part series, I Have Cancer, and This is What I Want You to Know. Subscribe today!