Tuesday, February 10, 2015

FROM THE TRENCHES: Top 10 List of Advice on Battling Cancer

This will be a joyous and life-affirming blog. Don't get depressed, not for a minute.

I thought today of how nifty my short, thick hair is compared to when I was bald. I remember one picture of me when my hair was almost all fallen out due to chemo, and there was one strand still stuck to the top of my skull. I looked like a concentration camp victim.

Don't look like a concentration camp victim.

Here's some of my advice from having lung cancer and going through 33 targeted radiations to my lung, 10 full brain prophylactic radiations, and 5 months of intravenous chemotherapy.

1. If your hair begins to fall out, go ahead and shave it smooth. Don't wait until you end up with a picture like I have.

2. I lost my hair twice. Be brave about this. It's just hair. Wear wigs and headgear, scarves and hats and such if you like. If you don't mind the coolness of being bald, go bald. Whatever you do rock it. Rock it good.

3. Don't think negative thoughts. If one comes to mind, imagine grabbing it with your hand, the whole thought, and throwing it away from you. Preferably into a corner never to be thought again. The truth is we think bad things when we fight cancer. That's natural. Just don't think it long. Throw it away. If you've thought about a dreadful future for more than five minutes, that's too long. Throw it all away.

4. Think beyond this situation to the future. See yourself on the other side of it. Make plans. Be forward thinking. Don't look back.

5. When people want to tell you about their experiences with cancer in their families or themselves, listen with an open heart. This disease touches at least one out of every five people and we're all together in this. Be kind and loving.

6. If you believe in a higher power, call on it now. And believe you're heard. If you do not believe in a higher power, call on your strongest inner self and believe you'll make it. We have to grow a backbone for this experience and like my mom once said, "Dip your backbone in cement."

7. See this as a chance to tally your positive characteristics and what you need to improve about yourself. I had a problem letting go of resentments over perceived wrongdoings on the part of others. I didn't try to get revenge, I just disengaged. Now I make an effort to let those old resentments go and engage again with people. Who appointed me judge, right? You can change. Now's the time. It's never too late. Tell those you love that you do love them. Forgive those who wronged you. Be understanding of the foolish, the liars, the hardened, the envious, and the horrid. Step away if they invade your territory and make you unhappy, but otherwise stop judging. Repair yourself by fixing what's wrong with you, or what is imperfect. Get happy.

8. This is a chance to see if you've done enough. Done enough loving and forgiving. Done enough of your life's work.  Done enough soul-searching.  Take the time now to do what you didn't have to do before.

9.  Stand tall. Take your treatments without complaint. Face the facts, but never let them dominate you into thinking you can't make it. If you have a doctor who is morose over your condition and chances, CHANGE DOCTORS NOW. I did. It made a big difference. Once you hear a terrible prognosis, you can't unhear it. Try to surround yourself with positive caretakers.

10. Don't give up. I saw a woman on the news recently who fought cancer nine times. She's still kicking. I had a 20% chance of survival. I'm in remission. I knew a woman who had cancer four times in different places on her body and survived every one. If it takes you, then there's nothing you can do about it but feel acceptance for a good life given you. If you beat it, then you too can write a blog like this and tell people good advice about living through cancer. Either way, do it with at least some joy still left in your spirit. No point in bringing others down or making your loved ones and friends suffer with you. Be strong. It's the only way.

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