Cancer? Me?! What?!
If you have just been told you have cancer, you are probably reeling.
Your mind is spinning. Fear, confusion, helplessness, anger, resentment and shock are all competing for airtime. There is much to think about and enormous amounts of information to wrap your mind around. There are important decisions to be made about treatment options, along with the practical aspects of juggling work, family, life… and now, cancer.
Fighting cancer becomes your full time job along with whatever else you were already doing. Whether life before cancer was smooth sailing or a bit of a struggle, it is now harder and more complex.
There is nothing quite like a life-threatening diagnosis (cancer or otherwise) to make one wonder if this is it. How can this be happening? Am I going to die? Initially it is terrifying. Later you will realize that lots of people survive a cancer diagnosis.
How does counseling fit into cancer treatment?
Counseling might not be the first thing you think of when putting together your treatment plan. However, I strongly believe that a positive attitude is important for all cancer patients and everyone on their support team. Regardless of your prognosis, you are going to do better if you embrace the positive. First, you might have to find it.
“Embrace the positive? Are you kidding me?”
I understand it isn’t easy to be positive when you are facing the uncertainty of cancer and numerous medical treatments. Counseling offers a place to find your hope again. It is a supportive complement to your medical and alternative healing treatments.
I can help you find the positivity that will enhance your healing.
Cancer has injected an urgency into your life. Your top priority is and should be fighting cancer. The stronger you are emotionally and the more grounded you can be, the more you can focus on healing and benefit from all your treatments. I firmly believe that counseling is an important aspect of your healing and it can support all you, and your health practitioners, are doing to help you recover.
Life after cancer
Some people seek out counseling after surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation, when they find getting back to life as it was isn’t as easy as they hoped.
Life is different after cancer. It just is. Returning to your “normal” life can be a bit like culture shock.
After active treatment, priorities may change. Some people opt to make changes in their life because cancer wakes them up to ideas they hadn’t seriously considered before. Sometimes cancer imposes unwanted changes on people and they struggle to adjust.
If you need help adjusting to life after cancer, counseling can help. I can help.
For the support people and loved ones of cancer warriors
Perhaps you have found this page because you are in search of your own support as you support the cancer warrior in your life. If so, kudos to you for seeking support. You are likely dealing with your own worries about the diagnosis and changes to your life. Perhaps your role has already shifted, so that you are a caregiver or taking on responsibilities that your loved one managed such as housework or providing for the family. Whatever the details of cancer in your life, you are likely overwhelmed and trying to be the rock for your cancer warrior.
You might be so focused on your loved one that you aren’t taking very good care of yourself. However, you need to be physically and emotionally healthy so that you can sustain the support you offer your loved one. I’m a strong advocate for self-care. A positive attitude is just as important for the caregiver as it is to the cancer warrior. This is, of course, easier said than done. You need a place where you can voice your worries and protest the unwanted changes in your life. A counseling session can be that place. I can help you unload your fears and frustrations and reclaim your hope.
It isn’t selfish to seek out support for yourself. I would argue that it is essential in order to be the positive, flexible and caring support person you want to be for your cancer warrior.
There is an enormous amount of support for cancer patients available locally and online. Take advantage of the support and resources available. There are good ideas and a wonderful community of survivors out there. Here are a few resources that I really like:
- Ceres Project brings healthy meals to people in active treatment, mainly in Sonoma and Marin Counties. The bonus is that the cancer fighting meals are prepared by local teens.
- Kris Carr is blogger, author, health advocate and cancer warrior.
- After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD) matches newly diagnosed breast cancer patients with volunteer mentors.
- I Had Cancer is an online support community for survivors and supporters of all types of cancer.
- The Silver Pen is a blog written by Hollye Jacobs, women’s wellness expert, author and breast cancer survivor.
- Nancy’s List is website created by a stage 4 survivor who wants no one to feel alone while dealing with cancer. Great resources of all kinds.
If you are aware of resources that you think others need to know about, I’d love to hear about them. Please send me an email.
Sitting with, listening to, hearing from and supporting others as they face cancer can be very empowering. I run a free online support group: Journeying Together: A Unique Cancer support Group. Sponsored by Providence Health and open to all cancers, all stages and all genders. A short initial screening is required for anyone interested in joining.
If you think I might be a good person to work during your cancer treatment (or that of your loved one), I’d be honored. If you have questions or would like to set up an appointment, please email or call me at 707-765-2635.
I also work with clients and family members of those facing other life changing illnesses. Not all illnesses are alike and even one person’s experience will differ from another’s experience of a very similar illness. However, the emotions are familiar to us all. Support and positivity help a lot.