The first rules, which I have mastered going through my cancer battle are to be active, proactive and never give up.
Read the scientific literature about your diagnosis, educate yourself, search for the best doctors, consult with all possible professionals, seek and find a second, third, fourth opinion. Think hard, analyze, decide what is the best for you. It is your life. Nobody will care about you more than yourself. Recheck what the doctors say.
For example, learn about the blood test results. These will be very important to understand and monitor, especially near the end of treatment. Once, my doctor didn’t notice that my neutrophils count was too low, and was ready to proceed with the chemo treatment. This could have had serious consequences. A second doctor caught the mistake. Now, I read my own blood reports, before I inundate my body with toxic chemo chemicals.
I researched the internet for days, trying to decide on a clinic and doctor. My husband and I spent hours calling to Boston, San Francisco, Miami, and New York trying to schedule an appointment or consultation. I was told that I would become bald during the chemo, but I would not accept that and I was right.
I found that Mt. Sinai in Miami Beach had a new process that would allow me to keep my hair. One doctor said that I needed a port inserted in a vein for four months during my chemo, but I refused this. Another doctor said it was wrong to commute from Bermuda to Miami for treatment. It would be too hard on me, but I commuted.
I discovered another rule — never read patient reviews of their chemo experiences online. After reading a few hours of awful, depressing, and devastating reviews about their pain and suffering, I was so scared that I wanted to cancel chemo treatment.
The internet seems to bring out the absolutely worst stories. All people experience chemo differently. You never know until you start. You could have very few side effects. Or, it could be a hard and difficult process. But, you survive. I did and you will.
You are much stronger than you think.
You can control some very important things. Your diet, physical activity, hydration, meditation practice, visualisation, art and guided imagery therapy, and optimism for the day. You can create a pleasant and cheerful environment at home. Surround yourself only with positive and supportive people. Get rid of negative, complaining people. Don’t waste your precious energy on them.
Another crucial thing is your support group. It is very hard and almost impossible to be alone during these many dark and painful days and months.
I was fortunate enough to have a very small, but strong support group. My amazing husband, who was with me every day, became my advocate. He took over the logistical details of travel and my comfort.
He was present at every meeting with the doctors and scrutinized all that they said, often challenging them when he felt it to be in my best interest. He carefully watched the nurses prepare the chemo mix. Once, he forcefully insisted on a lorazepam infusion when he recognized I was undergoing a panic attack, and my blood pressure was skyrocketing to the horror of the nursing staff.
Loving family and friends are a blessing. But, even the most loving people still don’t understand how scary it is to face a long harsh battle with unknown results. Only you know how it is to wake in the middle of the night in fear and panic, shivering and terrified.
Only you know how many tears you shed on the pillow during those sleepless nights.
What to do if you are alone or feel scared? What if you have questions to ask, concerns to share? Fears you can’t overcome by yourself? Where do you go if you feel hopeless? Do you need moral support from professionals or people who are going through the same ordeal?
I want to show you how to become stronger, more positive and energetic, how to choose a better diet and proper detox and to plan your psychical activity during and after the battle.
I want to help you.