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Pros vs. Novice (at Coping)

Last updated: October 2022

I think it’s fair to say no one living with blood cancer wants to be labeled as a pro in dealing and coping; however, there can be a lot said of the initial process and where and how you may look at things being exposed for some time. I wanted to share a little light on the differences or comparisons when we look at people who have lived longer with a chronic condition, as opposed to someone recently diagnosed. We can agree that there can be some points where those living 5 years or more know the ropes by how they maneuver through the process.

Novice at diagnosis

Yes, we’re all new at some point to what is about to transpire, and we try to absorb like a sponge the massive amount of details in the initial stages. Will you forget most of it? Yes. Will you refrain from asking more questions? Not in the least. I would almost say the novice stage shouldn’t even count because it’s a given you won’t know all that will be waiting for you.

It’s also fair to say your story may not exactly go how your new treatment buddy will experience. The process is unique to each person even though you learn in time the terms, treatments, and symptoms have their own special mark for each patient.

The pros

Well, you’ve made it 5 years in with active treatment and you’ve gone through the initial phases of anxiousness. You now feel confident to freely express your concerns with your doctors on the progress of your disease, or the slow developments of treatment.

It’s usually after a while of being seasoned you may be confident and astute in asking or challenging your doctor about other options, clinical trials, or new medicine possibilities. Depending on when you were diagnosed you may even see huge developments in treatment drugs.

Does being a pro mean you stop being frustrated or exhausted of the progress, whether dealing with the disease or dealing with the insurance to help you fight the disease? The pro knows all too well that there is a constant battle on so many fronts to keep “literally” hope alive. The pro may be open to seeking new medical advice after doing their own research and leveraging the pros and cons in the best care.

Novice - so what?

The labels are not a bad thing it just gives you room to move up the ladder when it comes to inquiring about some things that may have been missed in the initial stages.

I know for a fact there are some questions I could and should have asked earlier on, that were addressed in-depth later on. However, having them in my side pocket earlier would have been nice too.

The novice stage is a blur and some key points, honestly, go over most people’s heads as it really is a lot to take on.

Pro tip

If you are newly diagnosed, here are a few tips to consider:

  • Bring a care partner to be your eyes and ears
  • Bring a notepad and pen for each visit or use your phone to record those important points from your medical team
  • Ask your nurse to reiterate- sometimes the doctors may be too quick in explaining some important points, or you don’t want them to look at you odd (which should be the least of the concerns- and opens up the idea to find a new doctor if that happens). However, it’s okay to ask your nurse to politely summarize what your doctor has stated

 The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it

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