A diagnosis of cancer is a shock for anyone. It is very unusual for an individual to be prepared for this. It is also unusual for a person to know how to handle it. However, the patient and carer can learn from other people who have come through this experience.
A situation like this is a shock and this is the time when the patient feels most vulnerable and in need of support. It is hard to make decisions quickly and it is important to take the time to understand any options of treatment. It is so important to be given all the options, clearly and in language that can be understood.
The patient can help themselves and I fully believe that a positive way of approaching treatment is beneficial to the outcome. This involves and includes the way in which one thinks about life itself, physical exercise and diet. It also includes being part of the decision-making during treatment.
Patient empowerment evolves during the cancer journey It would be very difficult for a patient to be empowered from the outset. I have tried to outline some of the psychological aspects of my cancer journey and how my thought process changed from diagnosis, through the different lines of treatment, to the time when there was no evidence of disease. Every individual is different and has different needs and it is important for this to be recognised.
The patient will never be the same person after diagnosis. It helps to “let go” and to think in a new way from that point and to accept this new life, fostering harmony with the cancer. It is part of oneself and I did not see it as a beast. Within the family, we would specifically try to do things that helped me to feel uplifted. For myself, I found that doing things for others, even in a small way, made me so happy. The most powerful help came from within oneself, embracing the uncertainty of the present and making it feel familiar through acceptance.
It is possible to turn loss into gain!
In the video via the link below, Stephen Rowley, founder of Bowel Cancer U.K. Facebook Support Group, presents and moderates a discussion on these thoughts with myself first and then Mark, my husband, with members of the Facebook group.
Inspire2Live Patient Advocate