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"I Have Cancer": 48 Things To Do When You Hear The Words

"I Have Cancer": 48 Things To Do When You Hear The Words

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"I Have Cancer": 48 Things To Do When You Hear The Words

Lunghezza:
81 pagine
57 minuti
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 1, 2014
ISBN:
9780990997009
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

At least once in your life someone will say to you, "I have cancer," and when these three words are spoken, you may struggle with a response. If a loved one or friend hasn’t already informed you of a cancer diagnosis, it’s just a matter of time until someone will. This ebook will provide you with 48 things to do when you hear the words.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Dec 1, 2014
ISBN:
9780990997009
Formato:
Libro

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"I Have Cancer" - Stan Goldberg, Ph.D.

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PART I: SHARING THE DIAGNOSIS

At least once in your life someone will say to you, I have cancer, and when these three words are spoken, you may struggle with a response. If a loved one or friend hasn’t already informed you of a cancer diagnosis, it’s just a matter of time until someone will, since every year fourteen million people worldwide learn they are living with or may die from this illness.

Twenty years ago a good friend informed me she had breast cancer. I didn’t know if I should be upbeat (telling her she would defeat it) or just hug her and say how sorry I was. I did what most people do. I said, I’m so sorry, a safe answer but not necessarily a helpful one. Twelve years ago it was my turn.

You have prostate cancer, the urologist said. And it’s aggressive.

I don’t remember what I said to him, but I still become nauseous thinking of his four words. I was fifty-seven then. Death was still something theoretical, something that happened to other people—people of my parent’s generation. After the initial shock, I wrestled with how to break the news to my wife and two adult children.

Throughout my life, I was an avid outdoors person and, despite the many infirmities of middle age, still viewed myself as young—a delusion that evaporated with the diagnosis. Images of being debilitated by cancer went through my mind as if they were previews for a horror movie. I had been self-reliant my entire life and rarely asked my family for help in doing anything. I thought back to the time when my friend told me she had breast cancer. Now, I would be saying the three words to my family.

Many of us struggle with whether we should reveal our condition. We may desire support, but our needs are tempered by concerns such as: What will he think of me? Will she still love me? Will they pity me? There’s also the realization that what we thought a distant event—our death—might be lurking around the corner. It’s not just the thought of death from cancer that weighs on us, but also the journey we know we are about to take. For some, cancer involves only minor lifestyle changes. But for others there are life and death decisions involving chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or doing nothing. I have cancer is more than a statement of our condition. It’s an invitation into our uncertain world. In this section, I offer six suggestions for what you can do and say when you hear the words I have cancer.

1. Be Supportive and Specific

We often offer help through the use of generalities such as, If there’s anything I can do, please call, or When you need something done, please let me know. The rationale for being general is to allow our friend to contact us for a variety of needs. A patient said to me that, even though members of his family offered to help, they didn’t mention anything specific. It was always, If you need anything, please call. He interpreted the family’s offer as disingenuous. If they really wanted to help, he said, why didn’t they offer to do things they knew I couldn’t do any more—like cooking meals and cleaning? Whether his interpretation was correct or not, he didn’t contact them when he desperately needed help.

Instead of saying, If there’s anything I can do to help, please call, be more specific. For example, since you know chemotherapy causes your friend to become exhausted, you could say, I know shopping for food may be difficult for you. I’ll pick you up tomorrow morning at 10:00 and we’ll do it together. When a friend told me that walking after chemo was better than sitting, I said, What time would you like me to come over after your treatment next week?

Start with four assumptions. The first is that someone who is undergoing treatment for cancer will have side-effects that may make normal activities more difficult. Second, if the cancer is progressive, energy will suffer. Third, the more specific you are, the more likely your help will be accepted. Fourth, always err on the side of being too helpful. The worst that will happen is you’ll receive a No thank you, but I’m grateful you asked. Below is a partial list of practical suggestions shared with me by people who needed help and those who helped them.

  1. Wash dishes

  2. Do laundry and put away

  3. Take out garbage and put a new bag into the bin

  4. Take grocery shopping with a completed list

  5. Help with technology issues because of fuzzy thinking from pain, chemo, or fatigue

  6. Open anything that is difficult to open (e.g.,

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