What I would say to someone fighting a life threatening illness….
FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT! Never give up! You have too much to LIVE for. We are complex beings of body, mind and spirit. Get all of you into the fight:
Make doubly sure you have the BEST medical team fighting the disease who are providing you with multiple options for treatment. You are the captain of the team of fighters for YOUR life. No one has more at stake that you do. Ask someone strong to be your co-captain for times when you are too low from treatment to make the best decisions for you. Someone you trust completely, and who can fight like a wildcat when you are too tired to go on yourself.
If anyone talks of palliative care, run don’t walk, to the nearest exit. Take advantage of the integrative medicine available at most of the top cancer centers which should include a nutritionist, therapist, and nurse or peer navigator. If these are not available where you are being treated, find a center that does. Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, Cancer Centers of America, and others are some that do.
Our minds are powerful things, and I truly believe there is HUGE synergy when we focus our minds on helping our body beat the cancer. My own experience beating cancer for 26 years and walking with dozens of other cancer survivors confirms that when we truly believe we will win the battle, and focus ALL our energy on that single task, our outcomes are improved. Sometimes for a while and sometime forever. Becoming a good survivor is a process of working through our feelings of shock, denial, fear, anger and finally acceptance. If you get stuck for more than a week or two on any of these or keep bouncing back and forth, seek professional counseling. Depression is a very real illness and must not be allowed to continue unchecked as it takes a heavy toll on our minds and bodies.
We all need a reasons for living. Find what yours are. I had my two sons (Josh, 3 and Jeff, 5 years old at the time of my diagnosis) and my beautiful wife, Patricia. Fill your heart and soul with your love for them and when you’re feeling like you can’t go on, let that love fill you with peace and renewed energy. Be sure to take time to recharge in what every way works best for you. I took 30 minutes twice a day to just relax and listen to a guided meditation and visual imaging tape (I am dating myself here) that allowed me to escape the chaos and anxiety of treatment and renew my spirit. Later, after I realized there was a Higher Power responsible for my continued survival, I pray and listen to praise songs and give thanks by paying it forward by using my experience to connect with other cancer survivors in a meaningful way to help them in their journeys for survival. Now I find my quiet time in the ocean on my surfboard, or on my bike, or one a hike or at Yoga.
Body, Mind, Spirit:
Get them all going in the same direction…to defeat the disease and find moments everyday to celebrate and share the joy of being on the planet with those we love and who love us doing the things that bring us joy. Surround yourself with people whose energy is positive and uplifting. Distance yourself from people with negative energy that bring you down or cause you stress. Don’t sweat the small stuff, if the laundry doesn’t get done today, send it to the cleaners. If one door closes, look for the open window and find a ladder.
Be WELL and please keep sharing!
Randy, 26 year colon cancer survivor and ostomate