This post was written by guest blogger Greg Pierce. Greg is a 3x cancer survivor, American Cancer Society Hero of Hope speaker and Social Media Community Manager for WhatNext.com. WhatNext.com is a fantastic support site where anyone touched by cancer can connect with others on a similar path. WhatNext.com makes it easy to share and gain knowledge from each other’s experiences as well as connect with American Cancer Society resources. Greg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve just been diagnosed with cancer then you may feel shock, anger, sadness, denial, or confusion. Your loved ones are rallying around you, telling you to “fight!” It may help to have some suggestions from cancer survivors on just how to begin this fight. Below are seven ways that you can fight cancer inspired by cancer survivors themselves.
1. Relationship with Doctors and Medical Team
The relationship you will have with your doctor and medical team will be very intimate during treatment. Survivors that established relationships of trust with their team said that it was one of the main things that helped them survive cancer. From a medical perspective it is important, but it is often equally as important for your mental and emotional health.
2. Relationship with Caregiver
There may be a lot of strain put on your relationship with your caregiver during cancer and treatment. Often there is a mutual understanding of trust, respect, and gratitude, but sometimes it is easy to get frustrated or exhausted and take your stress out on one another. Survivors that have maintained a loving relationship with their caregiver (whether is a spouse, sibling, parent, or friend) have said that their caregiver was not only their main source of support but their number one cheerleader.
3. Family and Friends
A lot of survivors leaned on family and friends to help them survive cancer. Loved ones can be helpful during treatment from preparing meals, giving you rides, helping you around the house, taking your mind off things, going to appointments with you, distracting you from treatment, and acting as close confidants when you feel down. Survivors that have identified these steadfast loved ones in their lives have attributed a lot of their survival to those people.
4. Health and Nutrition
Some cancer survivors say that physical health and nutrition is not only a way to feel stronger during treatment, but it is also a concrete way to help yourself feel happier and more positive. Basic ways that survivors have tried to maintain their health include maintaining an exercise routine that it is approved by their doctor such as walking, stretching, swimming, and gentle yoga, working to get the nutrition they need by consulting their medical team about what foods are right for them, and sitting back and resting when their body was telling them to slow down.
5. Practical & Personal Methods of Coping
For you, surviving cancer may simply include finding your own personal or practical ways to get through days and treatment. Practical tips that have helped survivors include taking a notebook to doctor appointments to write down information they want to remember, keeping all insurance and medical related documents in a common folder, and packing a “chemo” bag for treatment. Personal ways may include taking up a new hobby, listening to soothing music during treatment, or it may be a new mindset to think positively or gain new perspective.
6. Support System
A support system can come in different forms. A common form is the people that are already around you; however, branching off from that direct source, there are local support groups, counselors, and online social networks. Not every form is right for everyone. Survivors say that they had to find the form of support that was right for them.
7. Help from the Community
A common regret that survivors share is that they did not accept the help that was offered them. It is possible that unexpected people will band together when they find out you have cancer. Survivors say that you should let them help you. It may be overwhelming or even feel intrusive in the beginning, but by letting these people help you, you will empower them in contributing to your fight. Help from the community may be from your church, work place, school, or other organizations that raise money and awareness for cancer.
These insights from inside survivors on your relationship with your medical team, caregiver, family and friends, support group, community, and your personal and physical ways of coping may help you to personally survive cancer, but ultimately you must find the best ways for you. Try stepping out of your shell this week and letting these avenues of support fall into place. What things do you think are going to help you the most? What things do you see that are already helping you fight cancer?