Some Things I Wish I Knew Immediately After My Diagnosis
My diagnosis was 39 months ago. I've had surgery, chemo (two cocktails), radiation, more chemo, and now immunotherapy. As I sit each day, I think of the silliest things that I wish I knew - or someone had told me - how things in my life would change. Not only physically, but, mentally and socially. Below is the list of those things, thoughts to actions, and how I responded to myself. I cannot recommend my choices, but I can give you a preview of what you may experience.
SHOCK. Total Shock.
You sit in your doctor's office in shock. You don't know what to say. You immediately think of everyone you know who died of cancer. Does that mean I'm going to die? Oh my gosh. SHOCK AGAIN! What the h*ll is happening here. Whether you went by yourself or have a support person, you will hear the doctor talking but once the word cancer is said, you feel as if someone put ear warmers on your head because everything is fuzzy. Don't worry. Just let what you have been told sink in. Make a list of questions to take with you for you to take to your next appointment. My only grandson was what got me back into a normal mind. No way was I going to die before he was a teenager. I want him to remember me, so I need to be around a lot longer.
Communicating a Diagnosis
You need to tell your family and friends. Expect different reactions. Whether you are telling someone 6 or 66, explain it to them in terms they can understand. Take a deep breath and dive in. For me, once I told everyone, I felt a bit better and more prepared to do what I needed to do.
Be Your Own Advocate
You have to be your own patient advocate I never knew what this meant until I had to start making decisions in a short amount of time. I began a Cancer Book where I organized everything. All test results, doctor visits, treatment notes - everything!
Give yourself some TLC
Sometimes, chemo felt like they were putting cement in my veins to slow me down. You have to learn to give into it. One day, my oncologist looked at me and asked if I was resting. I asked why? He replied he could tell from my blood work results and could tell I was overdoing it. Chemo, radiation, and surgery are exhausting both mentally and physically. Please delegate as much as you can and give yourself some attention. My family support was wonderful. If you live alone, please contact a relative or friend. Most people truly want to help but don't know what to do. You may brighten their day!
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.
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