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After Your Cancer Diagnosis, Everyone Else Becomes an Expert

When cancer comes calling, it doesn’t exactly leave much time for packing before it rips you out of your normal life and deposits you onto the Poseidon Adventure of medical diagnosis. It seems like as soon as the “c” word is uttered, things just keep getting worse and worse. Bad news upon bad news, and suddenly you are drowning in a sea of whiplash emotions, blood tests, and home remedies.

From diagnosis forward, it seems like you will only get cancer-related news, and just like an advertisement on Facebook – you can never tell if its good, bad, or just a Russian bot farm trying to get you to buy off-brand male enhancement products. Err, figuratively. It’s the epitome of too much information, and that’s before you even hop on a search engine. Here’s a tip – if you ever get diagnosed with cancer, the first thing you should not do is Google “cancer survival rates.” If you do, you won’t have to worry about dying because you’re going to drop dead right then and there. After that, your web browsing will be full of ads for cancer-related products for the rest of your life (and horoscopes for people who are born under the sign “cancer” – great algorithm Google).

The "cures" come rolling in

The flood of information comes from several sources, and that includes places and people you never even thought of. Cancer is the only illness in the entire world where as soon as you get it, everyone else instantly becomes an expert. Family. Friends. Strangers. People on TV. Your cousin’s friend’s wife’s ex-roommate’s Pilates instructor. Everyone. Also, did you know that there are at least 11 different cures out there, just floating around? Yes! You can find them by posting you have cancer on a public forum such as Reddit or Facebook, and within a few hours, you will get responses to that post with a host of cancer “cures” that range from mundane kitchen spices all the way to drinking more sulfuric acid to balance out your pH. I know! Right? Who knew? Apparently, they figured out a way around the whole “sulfuric acid burning right through your stomach and creating a third exit in your lower half” problem. We truly live in an age of medical wonders.

The cries come from all sides:

“Turmeric, eat more turmeric! Yes, Turmeric is the one! Eat it until it’s coming out of your ears, and you pickle your own brains in a picante cerebral fluid curry.”

“Aromatherapy! I’m telling you aroma-ther-a-pee! Mix a little peppermint oil and a little thieves oil with some fresh grapefruit seed extract and jam it up your nose with a turkey baster until you feel it poking your brain and then squirt away! Kills cancer. Dead.”

“I know about an oil that cures cancer, but it has to be from plants found only in the Quetzalcoatl region of the mountains of Central America. Also, only from the Eastern slope! If you get the one from the Western slope then it’ll instantly kill you twice. I wouldn’t worry though, you’ll probably get the right one.”

Sorting through the information

Anyone with cancer has heard these refrains (and more) ad nauseum. The truth of the matter is that not only do you have to deal with the orgy of information your doctor provides you with, but then you also have to sort through the Operation Dumbo Drop mound of crap that the rest of the world provides you with happily and unsolicited. The rest of the completely unqualified world. Like the guy who hangs out in front of the 7-11 who got his MD at Harvard. Night school. Go Fighting Proboscis Monkeys.

Overwhelming isn’t a big enough word to cover the deluge you will experience when you tell the world you have cancer. One of the things you are going to have to learn how to do is tune out the noise. You should find an oncologist that you trust and listen to what he or she says. You will have a ton of choices to make that are part of your treatment plan, and you don’t need the suggestions from the peanut gallery to make your decisions any more difficult.

Recognizing the advice comes from a good place

Tuning out the walking viral videos won’t be as easy as it sounds, though. Some of those who will show up with their own “home remedies” will be loved ones and good friends. You aren’t going to be able to just leave your cart full of half-priced Christmas cards in the CVS and run out yelling “ahhh, bees!” when they know where you live. You’ll have to sit and indulge every one of them, that is if you still want them to be your loved ones and good friends. Be prepared to eat a metric ton of crazy foods that “cure nausea,” (even if you weren’t nauseous to start, you will be), a shipping container worth of stuff with ginger in it, and a dump truck or three full of dandelions, wheatgrass, kale, and anything else that could be classified as food and/or yard clippings.

Ok, ok, I know. I don’t want to be too harsh on everyone who does this. I know that some of them do it from a place of caring, even if they’d never eat the stuff themselves. Some do it because they feel frustrated and helpless, and some do it because they literally don’t know what else to do, so it’s not all bad. Of course, some do it for selfish reasons, but we’ll pretend everyone in this article has pure motives. Just remember, when your diagnosis becomes public, then everything is going to change, and having the entire world try to cure your cancer isn’t the worst thing. I guess. Talk soon.

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