It seems that I always have friends newly diagnosed with cancer. I would love to have the power to grant them wishes to make their cancer experiences a little easier.
In the spirit of the New Year, I am giving myself that power. So, if you were my friend and called me to say, “I was just diagnosed with cancer,” I would wish that you…
- maintain as much control over your cancer and its treatment as possible.
- realize that you can’t control everything about your cancer.
- communicate freely with your doctors so that you understand their recommendations and they understand your wishes.
- make treatment decisions with good information and thoughtful guidance.
- don’t second guess those treatment decisions once they have been made.
- speak up when you are in pain, nauseous, depressed or anxious so that those symptoms can be addressed.
- listen to the rhythms of treatment so that you rest when your body needs it.
- have friends and loved ones that provide you with support and kindness but not unsolicited advice.
- are able to recognize what’s in the hearts of your friends even if their words of support come out awkwardly.
- connect with others going through treatment so you have added support.
- have co-workers and bosses that are understanding of your illness and are flexible with your schedule.
- give yourself a mental break from cancer on a regular basis.
- have loved ones that realize that your recovery will take time.
- not blame yourself for having cancer.
- continue to move forward with your life even if the future seems uncertain.
Each New Year is a milepost. Shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer in 1996, I wondered if I would be around for the celebration of the new millennium in 2000. That now seems like – and is – a long time ago. I’m happy to still be here and I look forward to sharing the next New Year with you.
Reprinted with permission of the Ithaca Journal.
Original publication date: January 3, 2015
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