Growing Mental Toughness
As soon as I heard the words "you have a stage IV lung cancer" my mind went crazy and my body felt I got knocked down. I was there but there was no anger, sadness, or anything else. Just total mental detachment. I could only understand the word cancer right at that moment. My mind could only absorb the name of my illness. The weight of thinking a tumor is growing inside of me kept repeating in my mind. My brain was just too tired to function. Then I was fearful and panicky about how things would all turn out.
What we cannot control
A cancer diagnosis comes with many uncertainties. Which side effect will my body give in? How to manage every time a side effect comes up? What will be my scan results? How about the outcome of blood tests?
We may not control the flow of our diagnosis but we can do our part well. Scanxiety, insomnia, and brain fog are real but there are techniques and strategies you can overcome these struggles. Fatigue is another one of the common inescapable weights of cancer. We need to rest as soon as our bodies dictate to do so. Gone are the days that we can do the same way as before diagnosis.
Having survived my advanced-stage illness and my treatment for more than a year, I was no longer afraid but more grateful than ever. My current CT scans have revealed my tumor is not growing and some shrinking is happening.
I am a survivor being given a second chance so nothing could stop me from living with my illness. I have vowed not to take things for granted. My focus is to appreciate the air I breathe, the nature I could step my feet on, and co-survivors who love me with all their hearts.
Taking care of my mental health
There are many ways to cope with the blow you get from lung cancer. Top of the list for me is having a dependable support system but you can include pets. Secondly, a good organization with your time and medical information so less stressful. Thirdly, join lung cancer support groups to realize you are not alone in your journey.
Last but not least is to hold close to your passion. Mine is definitely advocating for lung cancer awareness, screening, and detection. Thankful I am able to participate in spreading that lung cancer can hit you if you have lungs.
Sharing my cancer journey
We can also develop the creativity of sharing our own stories. Be it on local lung cancer support groups, peer-to-peer support, or other bigger community groups. Who knows you are the one who can light up another patient’s dark world.
Moreover, we can write about our own experiences in a journal, a personal blog, or even record in a video so we can readily remember the changes in our diagnosis. We really cannot waste our second chance in life.
Thus, I have a life mission to be visible in the lung cancer world through advocacy.
Want to share your experience with others?
Have you taken our Lung Cancer In America Survey yet?