As some of you know in the summer of 2008 I was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was devastating news, to hear that you have cancer, that there is a chance you may not live through it – it is something I would not wish happen to anyone. I panicked, I exploded, I cried, I gave up, I surrendered, I was angry, I was sad, I went through every emotion known to man, before I decided that it was time to stop thinking about death and start thinking about how to survive. I have learnt a lot from my experience, the most important thing was how to cherish life, but that really isn’t something you can teach people how to do. Many have come to me and asked me how to deal with a bad diagnosis, and I thought of writing this article to help others. Give it a go, you might learn something.
Bad Stuff Happens to Good People
Whatever the diagnosis, know that you are not the first person this has happened to and nor are you the last one. The feeling that others have gone through and are experiencing similar issues and feelings is a comforting for many and to be honest it was for me too. Some of the first thoughts was Why me? but when I thought about it I realized that it wasn’t just me, that there were millions of people who have gone through and are going through almost the exact same thing I was. I realized that it wasn’t a punishment, I wasn’t singled out, it was simply something that happened. When this happened, the stress I was feeling started to go away little by little and I felt like this was the first step towards me fighting to survive. The effects stress has on your body are awful and having to carry those around, as well as your diagnosis will only cause you harm.
Don’t push people away, especially your friends and family. The first few weeks after learning I had cancer I was horrible to everyone. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me, and I didn’t want me to feel sorry for myself, I didn’t want any help, but I soon realized that they only want what’s best for you and that they love you. What made me have that realization was when I overheard my wife talk on the phone with a friend of hers. She was saying how hard it was for her to see me like this. The first seconds I was furious! For her?! But how about me?! Indeed, I was an idiot for not thinking that this affected her almost as much as it was me. She was going through this with me. The words for better and for worse popped into my mind. My friends were suffering, my family was going through it and it wasn’t just my fight, it was theirs too, because people are not solitary animals. Some people might find this hard to do, letting other inside while in pain, but know that those people want to get in to help, not to hurt. Take it easy at first, share with them your feelings, let them know the details of your treatment, let them in on your fears, make them a part of your life once again and your diagnosis will seem just a tiny bit lighter.
If you don’t have friends or family you can always turn to the internet. There are forums where you can meet people who are going through similar thing, you can talk, search for answers or exchange medical information.
Find Hope in Your Heart
This may be the hardest thing to achieve, because there will be times when all you see is darkness. Hope truly is a gift! Think about things that are worth fighting for, be it your family, friends, pets or yourself. You don’t really have to have a reason for fighting, but most people need one. People have a strong survival instinct and it usually does the trick! If you feel like you can’t get out of the hole, then seek help. A therapist can help you find the spark you need, they can help you cope. Do what it takes to help yourself. You matter!
I hope that someone reads this and finds just a little bit of useful information on how to deal with a bad diagnosis. If you have any questions, you can send me an email or use the comment section below. I will answer every email or comment I will receive. Stay safe!