Six Things You Should Really Do If You Get Diagnosed With Cancer
This is my thirteenth year of living with cancer and I feel great.
Since I am writing about creative thinking on this blog site, and cancer is something that one in two Americans are predicted to have in their life time, I felt these comments regarding decision making might be useful as you may now or one day face this situation or have friends or family that currently are.
(1) Find out how aggressive and in what stage the cancer is! This is critical. If you are in stage one and you have a non-aggressive cancer, you have a world of choices and throwing a grenade into the kitchen to kill a cockroach may not be the best strategy. If on the other hand you are in stage four and the cancer is aggressive, you will most likely need all of the heavy artillery available. Many lives have been ruined by people who have been treated too aggressively in the early stages.
(2) Get several opinions. Unfortunately many doctors want to treat you with their specialty. That is not necessarily bad but it may be. You need to gain a perspective. Years ago a professor friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. She saw three different doctors. The first doctor wanted to perform a lumpectomy, the second wanted to remove her breast, and the third wanted to treat her with chemotherapy. Her final opinion came from a process called triage where several doctors meet with you at the same time. The latter decided that since her cancer was miniscule and non-aggressive, that they just watch it. She, very much relieved, took the last choice.
(3) Assemble a team who are on your side and can see this diagnosis from many different perspectives. A famous oncologist in Germany, Dr. Wolfgang Scheef, told me that the oncologist, surgeon, naturopath, homeopath, your family doctor, therapist, and knowledgeable friends, all have valuable inputs which are appropriate at the right time. The challenge is, as mentioned above in number two, that many doctors want to cure you with their specialty. So form a team of real supporters who can help you sort out the facts and cheer you on no matter what you decide to do. A doctor’s pronouncement can be deadly. When you are diagnosed with a life threatening event, you don’t want to hear about how dead you are going to be in six months or a year. You want to hear about how others facing this same situation have made it though and what they did. You want to know the probabilities as there maybe family responsibilities, but having one’s eye on the possibilities rather than the statistical probabilities is the name of the game.
(4) Form a strategy that empowers you and makes you feel good about what you are doing. Be willing to think outside of the box which includes learning about the success stories of others who used unconventional methods and how your cancer is treated in other countries. When I was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 57, my urologist said I needed to have surgery or radiation and should begin immediately. I had early stage non-aggressive prostate cancer. I had some medical doctor buddies including a naturopath and eventually Dr. Scheef in Germany. They helped me formulate a strategy to improve my immune system, bolster my self-empowerment, change my life style and monitor myself regularly knowing that at some time in the future I might overcome this cancer on my own, or there might be a “breakthrough” in treatment options, or I might have to accept that the time had come for a more aggressive procedure. Their key question to me was, “ Could I co-exist with cancer in my body?” I realized that I could. Some people cannot accept that option. My diagnosing urologist who was not part of my team told me I was making a big mistake. But deep down inside I did not agree. Having a team, knowledge, and a strategy gave me the confidence to move on with life believing that the changes I was making in life would serve me. So far they have.
(5) Like Nike says, “ Just do it.” Don’t put off today for tomorrow. Embrace life now.
(6) Practice kindness and compassion. It will make you feel good and as the Dalai Lama says, “ It distorts reality the least.”