The Emotional Rollercoaster
When you hear the words, "you have lung cancer," the first thing that happens is your heart falls into your stomach. It feels like a prize fighter slammed you in the gut. The shock in the physician's office is only the beginning. By the time you arrive home, or shortly thereafter, as you digest your diagnosis, you begin to think about everyone and everything else.
Your job, finances, your family, your friends, your mortality, fear, anger, and then even possibly denial. I remember during my testing for my diagnosis, even though I was a smoker, I kept thinking, "I feel fine, this can't be cancer." Imagine if you didn't smoke, how could this possibly be happening?
Riding the rollercoaster
Receiving and processing a lung cancer diagnosis is a form of grief that you will feel. And as a 3 -1/2 year survivor, I now realize, I had to go through that grief to get through my emotions and to keep me strong.
I have been in active treatment of some kind since the day of my diagnosis and I still have mixed emotions. Depending on the day, depending on how I slept the night before, depending on how much sunshine there is. Literally. It is so hard to keep your chin up while fighting for your life.
But there really is HOPE. You have to BELIEVE that you can survive this and fight each day. Yes, I have my moments where I'll be vacuuming and then all of a sudden I sit down and start crying. Not because I have cancer. Not because I know it will kill me someday. Because I know I have to keep fighting to make a difference for myself and other lung cancer patients.
My advocating, my writing on LungCancer.net, and my blog are my ways of dealing with my own future. In the process of gathering information in the beginning, I forged partnerships with several different organizations that bring me strength and help me fight off the negative emotions. Cancer is hard work. I may look fine on the outside but something is inside of me that is growing and is my enemy.
How I fight back
So how do I fight back? By educating others on my own experiences with the hopes that it will help people in the future. Our future is brighter now than it has ever been. There are many organizations that will be of huge support and help to you. Some of them are:
Quite simply, you will go through a range of almost every emotion there is. Don't let it get the best of you. There is help out there - online, by telephone, in-person support groups. Your treatment team is the best place to start to ask for help.
My personal way to keep going is to be a mentor to newly diagnosed patients. LUNGevity has a LifeLine Program that will match patients with mentors with similar circumstances.
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