Things I Wish I Had Known on the Day of My Cancer Diagnosis

Dear Carole,

I know that you are feeling overwhelmed and out of control. How could you possibly have blood cancer while feeling fine?

Is this really happening? You just had the best summer of your life and now you are living a nightmare. I can tell you things will improve. The most important thing is that you have hope.

Your blood cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, is now considered a chronic disease. The overall survival has greatly improved because of effective therapies. There are new drugs in the pipeline because of clinical trials.

The importance of a positive attitude cannot be overstressed and has been shown to improve patient outcomes. I learned firsthand that the following strategies really help.

What I've learned since my diagnosis

Do not hesitate to ask your physician any questions and always seek clarification. This is your body, and you need to understand about your cancer, the effects it may have on you, and the suggested treatment options. Knowledge is power!

Let family and friends help during this critical time. Be specific and accept help with rides to physician’s appointments, shopping, meal preparation, or other tasks that may need to be done.

I discovered meditation and yoga significantly helped with my incapacitating fatigue. They also cleared my head and improved my spirits.

You will have down days but try to celebrate each success. I would count down my chemotherapy treatments and look forward to the final one. Try to find something to look forward to. I decided to plan a family cruise with my granddaughter once my chemotherapy was completed.

Reestablish your priorities. You need to be number one. Discover what provides YOU comfort. My religion and spirituality lessened my anxiety and gave me hope. My mantra became: faith, family, and friends.

Each day is a gift

So let me tell you today, it is almost eleven years since that frightening day of my cancer diagnosis. I successfully tolerated the chemotherapy and immunotherapy with several “bumps in the road”. My lymphoma is in remission and yes, I experience “scanxiety” when I have my annual CT scan.

I consider each day as a gift and enjoy every moment. I am trying to not sweat the small stuff. I keep updated as to the latest research and volunteer as a cancer survivor to support fellow survivors.

There is HOPE and life after a cancer diagnosis.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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