Coping Strategies – Cancer When You Have Children

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me, Family Matters

I was recently emailed by a lady asking if I had any specific coping strategies that I could share for attempting to fight cancer and be a present parent for your child, that you want to be the best mum ever for?

It really got me thinking.  I don’t know if you can fight cancer and be an ever-present, best mum – well I mean, I’m sure you are the best, but maybe not in the all-encompassing way you envisioned.  It’s hard, there are no two ways about it.  I had such a clear idea what I thought motherhood was going to be and cancer was robbing me of it.

I’m not sure that I did cope, it was a constant and evolving situation and you just keep trying.  But, here are a few things that I learnt along the way.

Keep things in perspective.

When I used to get upset about not being with the children for certain things, my husband used to say  “the kids don’t care if you are there the first time they roll over or whatever, they care if you are there on their first day of school or get married, but even if you miss those… They only really care if you are alive.”  I used to try to keep that in mind when I felt I was missing out because it’s so true.

Getting to be at home with my baby girl

Getting to be at home with my baby girl

Carve out some special time.

When I was having chemotherapy or was bed bound, I used to get the children in to my bed and read them their bed time story.  Or go and snuggle up with them on the sofa whilst they had TV time.

Little one’s love routine so if there is one part of the day, no matter how tiny, that they can know you will be involved in, I think it works quite well.

Bonds are built on more than time.

The bond with my daughter was something I worried about as she was only three months old when I was diagnosed.  When you are pregnant you are told about all these things you have to do with your baby, otherwise you are basically stamping all over their childhood and any chance of you bonding with each other, but it’s not true.  My daughter and I have a wonderful bond.  We love each other eternally and no amount of being in hospital and chemotherapy has changed any of that.

Plus you are going through their childhood with a determination to live for them that most other parents will never experience.  So don’t panic if you aren’t around as much as you planned because your bond will still be the same.

Give Yourself a Break

It’s not much I know, but hopefully it will help.  Most importantly, give yourself a break and just enjoy all the moments that you can.

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The Problem with NOT Losing Your Hair When You Have Cancer

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me

Cancer, chemotherapy, hair loss.  Standard.  These three things appear to be inextricably linked which is strange because it’s not actually true.

There are hundreds of types of chemotherapy, all with different side-effects and hair loss is not always one of them.  Some chemotherapy’s cause heat in the body, which causes the hair follicles to open and the hair to fall out.  Some chemotherapy’s cause cold in the body meaning that doesn’t happen.

So why do people always connect the two?  I think it is because people have the ‘heat causing’ chemotherapy when treating breast cancer.  As Breast Cancer is the most common in women and the poster-child of cancers, this has become the ‘normal’ image we all accept and expect.

These ‘cold’ chemotherapy’s come with their own additional side effects, mostly in the form of nerve damage.  Your nerve endings become so damaged and hypersensitive to cold, it meant that I couldn’t even walk down the chiller aisle in a supermarket because of the painful reaction in my nerves.  If it was cold outside, I would be in pain.  If something was cold to touch, I was in pain.  I could not drink cold or room temperature drinks as the pain the nerves in my throat was unbearable and made my throat feel like it was closing causing a gag reflex – warm drinks were fine thankfully.

Of course you still get all the added, expected side effects like nausea, sickness, fatigue, digestive problems, insomnia, etc…  We all have these joys in common.

The problem with not losing your hair when you have cancer is that people don’t realise you have cancer.  Even when they know you do have cancer, it’s like they forget.  It can be genuinely shocking.  How you feel and how you ‘should’ look are poles apart which somehow creates a disconnect to the reality.  If I had a pound for every time I heard “but you don’t look ill???”  It makes it even harder to acknowledge the truth of what is happening, for others and for yourself.  Sometimes I just wanted people to acknowledge how crap I felt without me having to explain

“I am far sicker than my long flowing locks allow you to believe.”

I remember someone saying “How come you haven’t lost your hair?  Obviously your chemo isn’t very strong.”  Cue internal crying and tending to the metaphorical kick in the stomach, whilst outwardly I tried to explain the differences.

I am thrilled that I didn’t have to deal with losing my hair.  Obviously I can’t imagine truly what ladies go through when they lose their.  I would most certainly be devastated, feeling like I had lost an irreplaceable piece of me.  But just because someone doesn’t ‘look’ a certain way, doesn’t mean they aren’t still fighting their fight.

That probably goes for everyone and everything actually!

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Know Your Chemo from your Radio

Cancer & Me

One of my lovely readers emailed asking if I could explain the difference between chemo and radiotherapy.  So here we are…

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is traditionally given via intravenous drip administered in hospital but you can now get chemotherapy tablets that can be taken at home.  Once in your blood stream, chemo can be taken the whole way round your body, treating cancerous cells, anywhere.

Cells divide themselves to reproduce, which is usually how we retain a healthy body but when we have cancerous cells dividing and reproducing, cancerous tumours form and spread.  Chemo stops your cells dividing and reproducing.  The only problem is, it stops your healthy cells as well, which is part of the reason people on chemo get so ill.  But the healthy cells will get better, the cancerous cells won’t – take that cancer!!

Personally I had both.  An intravenous session followed by two weeks of taking tablets everyday at home.

If you want more detailed information on chemotherapy, Macmillan have this wonderful leaflet…

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy is literally a radiation ray or beam that targets the sight of your cancer.  It is given via a large x-ray type machine.  Radiotherapy is usually given daily over a period, in my case it was every day for six weeks.

Unlike chemo, it usually only affects the area it targets.  You will be given a scan to determine exactly where radiologists will be aiming the machine, then you are given tiny tattoos so that they get the exact place every time.  There will always be some healthy tissue damaged by radiotherapy but the precise nature of scans and tattoos is to ensures its minimal.

Radiotherapy can burn the skin quite badly, in my case it was very uncomfortable as it burnt my undercarriage but the physical effects are generally easier than with chemo.

If you want more information about radiotherapy or internal radiotherapy, have a look here at Macmillan’s website….

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The Stupid Things People Say When You Have Cancer!

Cancer & Me

When You Find Out You Have Cancer…

I would prepare yourself for when people say (what I think) are very stupid things. The most common comment being “I knew someone who had cancer and died”, seriously, who are you helping when you say that? There is also my personal favourite, “just think positively and you’ll be fine”. Don’t get me wrong, positivity is great and positively encouraged, but cancer is a little more complicated than that. Cancer is not purely a mental test with your survival the prize. Nevertheless, people will tell you to be positive, A LOT!

You may also find that you end up consoling the person you have just told rather than the other way around. Personally didn’t mind this, I actually started becoming quite offended if people didn’t need consoling – don’t they care? Just kidding, obviously they did, presumably they were holding it together so as not to upset me – right? But seriously, I can certainly see how upsetting it could be if you are struggling with your own emotions without taking on someone else’s crushed feelings.

Generally, people love to compare your cancer to someone else they know who had cancer. Sometimes I would be told the strangest things like “at least they caught it early”, no they didn’t? Why assume that? Some people make all sorts of assumptions based on a previous experience they’ve had with someone else. This used to drive me mad and annoyingly it’s not just with diagnosis, it will be with every stage of your cancer care.

What Can You Do?

Whatever someone’s reaction, remember that most people are trying their best, they are not trying to annoy you, they are probably just at a loss for what to say and feel that they need to say something, anything. If someone does say something that offends or upsets you, remember you are in an emotionally raw place. It would be normal to take things to heart that would usually not be such a big deal to you. This is entirely natural so do not feel bad about it. If someone is comparing your cancer to someone else, you could say, there are so many variations (even within the same cancer) they really aren’t comparable. Where possible try to distance yourself from those comments and if someone is upsetting you, maybe mention that you are trying your best to handle it your way, and get them off the phone!

My Loved One Has Cancer – What Should I Be Saying?

I didn’t want to send all the non-cancer people into a spin on what they should be saying so this would be my advice…

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In my opinion, it’s best to follow the lead of the person who has cancer.  Be led by how they are feeling and their reactions.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions, I’m sure they would rather tell you than have you assume.  Ask how they are feeling, how they are reacting to the news.  Feel free to agree that it is shite and you wish there was something you could say to make it better but you know there isn’t.  Ask if there is anything you can do to help and suggest things you could do – make dinner / take the kids to school / drop a text saying, I’m at the shops can I pick anything up for you.  Feel free to make suggestions about way’s of handling ideas but leave it as a suggestion not an instruction.  If they don’t seem keen, leave it, don’t push what your friend of a friend did down their throat.

I found an influx of offers of help and well-wishes at the beginning and then it tails off (understandably) so my biggest suggestion would be to just let them know that you are still there, thinking about and loving them and ready to respond should they need you.

There is no right or wrong when it comes to dealing with cancer.  Treating someone with love and kindness will go a long way.

Nx

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The Last 36 Hours! Good Morning Britain, ITV News and World Cancer Day

Cancer & Me, Press Appearances

The last 36 hours have been unexpected, bizarre and awesome.

I knew that to coincide with World Cancer Day the lovely Cancer Research UK were going release the latest shocking statistic that 1 in 2 of us will now be effected by cancer, which I have written about here.  I also knew CRUK were going to include my name (along with others) as a possible person to talk to the press, but I had no idea just how exciting it was going to turn out to be.

Before I had cancer, although I would have loved the thought of appearing on TV, I would have probably let nerves get the better of me or the thought of it being too much trouble with getting the kids sorted etc… But since cancer I just think – when is the next time I am going to be asked to do this?  Probably never, so why not just get involved and thoroughly enjoy it and that is exactly what I did.

On Tuesday evening a film crew came and film the kids and I for a news segment on Good Morning Britain.  They asked a lot more questions than what they showed and there were a number of retakes, mainly because when you ask a 3-year-old to be quiet what they actually hear is; make as much noise as possible and keep interrupting mummy.  But they wanted ‘real-life’ and that is most definitely real life! 🙂

 

Next it was confirmed that I would be on the Good Morning Britain sofa with the beautiful Susanna Reid (who looks like a doll in real-life – so beautiful and friendly), Kate Garraway (who I now know likes her hair to be brushed with a brush, not a comb) and Dr Hilary Jones (who in real life is possibly the nicest man ever).  I was so excited.  I have seen that sofa, how many times (?) so to actually be on the show was completely surreal.

A car collected me at 5am – yes 5am – and I was taken to the ITV studios on South Bank, London.  They did my hair and make-up.  I got to meet all the presenters, who all seemed genuinely lovely.  The studio itself was amazing, smaller than I imagined and no, that is not the real view of London behind the sofa or desk, just a screen.  It was over so quickly, I didn’t feel like I got half of what I wanted to say across but that’s just the way it was and I still can’t actually believe I got to go on that sofa.

You can watch the interview by clicking on the picture below….

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After appearing on the sofa they organised a car to bring me home and I went straight to meet a friend for coffee in the same place I go nearly every day for coffee and order the exact same thing.  When I walked in the barista said “I saw you on TV, I was shouting at my husband – ‘It’s medium-vanilla-latte lady on TV'”  Hilarious.

Lastly I was asked if ITV News could come and film me and the kids again for the evening news.  Because time was of the essence not only did the reporter and cameraman come, they had a gigantic news truck come too so that they could edit and transmit the recording to get it all sorted in time for the news.  Good know’s what the neighbours much have thought.

You can watch the new segment by clicking on the picture below….

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On top of all of that I had some wonderful friends write my name on their hands as the person they are Uniting for as part of the Cancer Research #WeWillUnite campaign, so a massive thank you to them and everyone for their support with the campaign xx

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Cancer, the Benefit of Hindsight and the Lowest of the Low

Any Human Heart, Cancer & Me

A lady wrote to me recently praising my positive attitude to having cancer.  This lady also went on to say that her son had cancer and that he was in a very negative place and she had tried encouraging him to read my blog to gain a different perspective but that he wasn’t interested and so fearful for the future and asked if I ever felt like that?

I wrote back saying YES!

But her question made me think how important it is to discuss the lowest lows that you go through when dealing with cancer.  I have a wonderful friend who stayed so positive throughout her whole treatment.  She had breast cancer and has been all clear for years but looking back she says she never allowed herself to think the worst.  She felt remaining positive was integral to her getting better and she never allowed negativity to creep in.

I did not feel like this.

I felt utterly lost in the darkest depths of an abyss.  Like one of those little sea-creatures that lives in a place so dark its blind and has no idea which way is up or down, that was me.

I honestly think that the reason that I am able to speak about cancer so positively now is because it all turned out fine and I’m cancer free.

People generally (myself definitely) have an incredible knack for looking back on experiences and extracting meaning and positivity from them.  That doesn’t mean the ‘meaning’ was obvious at the time.  Or even there necessarily.

There were points when all I wanted to do was hide away.  I didn’t want to see people, speak on the phone, anything.  Treatment and bed, that was it.  At some points that was all I was physically able to do but at other points, it was a very useful excuse.  There were times when I would tell family not to come round and they would anyway.  I must be honest, I usually felt a lot better for seeing them and having a chat about whatever my fears, or purposefully choosing not to talk about my fears.  As I started to recognise this pattern, I tried to keep plans, or even invite my dad or sister round, which did help.

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In hospital about a week after my operation.

The lead up to my twelve-hour operation was mind-crushingly hard.  I was petrified I would go to sleep and never wake up.  I was so scared, I couldn’t even discuss my fears with anyone, I couldn’t say them out loud.  In the end I had to push myself to tell one of my closest friends how scared I was because I wanted her to be able to pass on messages to my husband and children should my worst fear be realised.  I don’t think anyone will understand the physical internal pain caused by fear that I went through in the weeks between radiotherapy and my operation.

My lowest of the low actually came towards the end of my treatment which might sound strange – it certainly did to those around me.  I reached a point where I couldn’t fight anymore.  I had already had three months of chemotherapy, three months of radiotherapy, two operations, followed by weeks in hospital.  The thought alone of going back to have another three months of chemotherapy, knowing how sick it was going to make me, was too much for me to bear.  I was so physically and mentally tired, I didn’t have any more fight left in me.  People kept saying ‘but you’re so close to the end,’ but all I could think was ‘I can’t have another three months of chemo.’

I reached a point where I would rather give up completely than even thinking about keeping going.

I spoke to my oncology nurse about it and she was very understanding.  I think sometimes in cancer care we think our reactions unique, but clearly nurses see this all the time.  She advised antidepressants to give me the boost that I needed to get me through the last few months.  Previously I had been quite ‘anti’ antidepressants but at that point, I was on so many tablets counteracting side-effects from the cancer and treatment I figured what’s one more tablet a day?!  Plus I acknowledged, I needed extra help.  The antidepressants did help and got me through the end of my treatment.  I’m not suggesting antidepressants are the answer for everyone, but for me they were and still are.  I am sure there are more examples of feeling lost that I could give but I’m sure you get the idea.

I must admit I have felt quite emotional writing this post.  Remembering and feeling that long dormant fear in the pit of my stomach.  But if you feel this way, or have a loved one who does, know that it is inevitably part of the process.

Me, walking with my family the day after I found out I was Cancer Free!

Me, walking with my family the day after I found out I was Cancer Free!

At the end of the day, I have turned out fine!  In every way I think my life is even better than before.  I have done things I wanted to do my whole life but never had the guts to do before (ironic as it was my guts that had cancer and are now gone – a little bit of ‘cancer humour’ there); like going to University and writing this blog.

One way or another the moment that you /your loved one is in will pass, but in the mean time be kind to yourself / to your loved one.

 

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Let’s Begin at the Beginning – Why I Have a Colostomy Bag

Cancer & Me, Colosto-ME, Writing & Blogging

MY LATEST POST ON WWW.MYOSTOMY.CO.UK

When I was pregnant with my second child, I knew that I had bowel cancer.
You know your body, you know if something is wrong, and I knew. This feeling combined with textbook symptoms and a basic knowledge of bowel cancer due to a strong family history (my mother, grandmother and great-grandfather all died from bowel cancer) left me convinced it was the only thing it could be. Even so getting a diagnosis was not as easy as it should have been.

I had been getting rectal bleeding on and off, since around 2006.
Over the years I had visited various GPs but they always said the same, that I was too young to have bowel cancer and if the bleeding went, there was nothing to worry about. The bleeding stopped so I breathed a massive sigh of relief, swiped the sweat from my brow and went on in the blissful ignorance that not thinking about things like ‘your health’ brings.

Read more……….

nicola-bio3

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Who Should Decide Your Cancer Treatment?

Cancer & Me

The story of Ashya King has been as shocking as it has been upsetting and has stirred up all sorts of thoughts and feelings.  Cancer treatment is something that I have looked at from different points of view.  Not only as someone with an advanced cancer that needed and received treatment, also as the daughter of a woman who had and then refused cancer treatment and in all honesty, it comes across like a bit of a minefield.

Back in my blissfully ignorant-about-disease days, I believed that cancer was cancer and treatment was treatment.  Now I know that is far from the truth.  There are numerous variations of both and combination options, and it’s essentially down to your doctor to decide the best combination for you, based on your illness, their experience and resources available.

I originally had a surgeon who wanted me to have the ‘standard’ colorectal cancer treatment plan.  I then saw another surgeon who wanted further testing.  As a result a much more extensive treatment plan was given to me.  I say ‘given’ because it was.  There was no discussion just this is what we are going to do.

Since recovering I often question, what if I had stayed with that original doctor?  I only changed because my brother-in-law worked at a different hospital, not because I was expecting better treatment somewhere else.  If I had stayed with the original surgeon and his plan, not all the cancer would have been removed and I would have only had half the amount of chemotherapy I ended up having.

As time went on other variations on my treatment plan popped up.  Should or shouldn’t they remove my womb, was it genetically problematic, the order of treatment, different doctors held different opinions.  It started to seems to me that cancer treatment is on a spectrum ranging from a very well-educated and resourced opinion to a blanket standard.  I have no doubt that I was getting the best and right treatment for me.  But what if you aren’t?  What if you believe there is a better or different way?  At what point do you stop trusting what you are being told and go out on your own?

Just a few of my Cancer Drugs

Just a few of my Cancer Drugs

After my operation I did not regain bladder function and was still using a catheter weeks later.  My surgeon explained the bladder is a very sensitive organ that doesn’t like being pulled around (I love this, makes it sound like stroppy teenager), and given time it would return to normal.  In the meantime I was referred to a urologist so I could learn how to insert a catheter at home.  I returned for my follow-up a few weeks later, believing it was just to check if I was getting on with the catheter’s OK, when they said they wanted to run a series of heavily invasive tests with a view to operate and create a second stoma for my bladder.  WHAT!  Firstly, one stoma’s enough.  Secondly, this went against everything I had been told up to then.  I was still having chemotherapy, still recovering from the 12 hour surgery I had only a few weeks before.  The thought of another operation and another stoma served as such an incomprehensible blow.  I asked if it would be worth waiting to see if I regained function as I had been told I would.  She was very matter of fact, this was her recommendation.  No discussion, no options.  I was devastated.

So what did I do?  I ignored it.  Not something I would advise with health conditions, but I did speak with another doctor who said they didn’t agree (alleluia).  She thought that I should wait, give my body a chance to heal.  I knew straight away in my heart that it was the right decision.  I did regain full bladder function over the coming months so in this case it was right, but what I did find shocking was the way I was cut off by urology.  I wasn’t following their treatment plan so that was that.  I never saw anyone in urology again.

Since having cancer I have met with some fascinating people who work in the cancer field.  Some have been surprised that I wasn’t aware of the treatment variations available.  I had no idea there were different kinds of cancer drugs with new one’s being developed and trailed all the time.  In my case, it matters very little.  I am happy with the decisions, but what if you’re not?

Should we look at doctors as all-knowing beings and be forced to place our health in their hands no matter what?  Even after going through cancer, I still only understand the tiniest fraction of the science, so surely people who have trained specifically in the illness know best?  Or should we be involved as patients, guided by but not bound to doctors expertise?  These are not rhetorical questions, I am genuinely asking because your health is to important not to be discussed.

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The Many Emotions Of Cancer

Cancer & Me, Journey Back to Health

Cancer is obviously an emotional roller coaster.  Not only for the person with cancer but for the people around them as well.  When you have cancer, some of the emotions you experience are one’s that everyone expects you to have – feelings like anger, sorrow, fear and a general feeling of being over-whelmed or worn-out with it all.  But there are so many other emotions, that you just don’t hear about as much.  I was speaking with a friend who has also had cancer recently, about all the other unexpected emotions we had felt and it turned out they were the same, it suddenly seemed strange that we had never spoken about it before.  And so (as seems to be a running theme with me at the moment) I think talking about these things so people are more aware is what can help, so that’s what I am going to do….

Personally I felt a certain amount of relief when I was diagnosed.  This may sound strange but I had known that something was wrong for sometime so to know that I wasn’t going crazy or not eating enough fibre (as the GP kept saying) was a strange sort of relief.  At least now I knew what it was, we could start trying to deal with it.

The Many Emotions of Cancer Word Cloud

Guilt.  This is a big one.  And many other Cancer Superstars I know say the same.  There are so many facets to the guilt as well.  Guilt that you are inflicting this illness on others.  Guilt if certain family members or friends are coping very well.  Guilt that you are doing better than the person sitting next to you having chemo.  Guilt over getting the all clear when someone else didn’t.  Guilt over not being around for your kids as much as you should have been  Guilt over eating red-meat or drinking bottled water or whatever the latest, ‘this will give you cancer’ is, that could have possibly brought you to having the disease.  Guilt over not acknowledging just how bad it was when someone else was going through cancer before you because you just didn’t realise how much they would be going through.  Guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt, guilt!

Whenever you mention this to anyone who hasn’t had cancer, again they look at you like you are mad.  To be fair, it does sound mad.  None of those things are your fault and thinking about it logically, by definition you should only feel guilty if you have done something wrong.

But that’s the amazing things about emotions, they can be completely irrational and yet retain their strength and conviction over the person who is feeling them.

The other funny thing is when you don’t have a reaction that others expect you to have.  For me it was it was the ‘why me’ emotion.  I never felt this.  People would say ‘you must be thinking why me’ and when I said I didn’t, people would look at me like I was crazy… or lying!  It was really strange. I did feel ‘why now’ and thought the timing was unfair given that I had a 3 month old and 2 year old when I was diagnosed but never why me.  My friend felt like she had to apologise for not being emotional enough and crying all the time.  I think people often think I’m strange that I am able to talk about it so matter-of-factly (is that a word) and not break down.  I don’t know why this is.  Just because I’m feeling strong at that moment, doesn’t mean I’m not going to break down later that day / weekend / whatever.  No one could sustain that level of heightened emotion with a constant outpouring of feelings when you are going through cancer.  Doesn’t mean you’re not feeling it though.

My 2 year old only has room for one emotion at a time so can go from a screaming fit to laughing in a nano-second but adults and especially one’s who have cancer don’t act like that.  The number of conflicting emotions that you can be feeling at anyone time when you have cancer is cataclysmic and enough to give you a serious headache.  Just like in the word cloud above that I made, to show how many different emotions can be in your heart at any one time.  But regardless there are no right or wrong emotions. Everyone is going to handle it differently depending on there constitution and circumstances.

I think if you are a Cancer Superstar, you just need to give yourself a break.  Whatever you are feeling is fine, no doubt it is something that all Cancer Superstars are feeling and it probably will pass onto another emotion soon enough.  If you are the loved one of a Cancer Superstar, be patient, don’t expect them to feel or think anything and work on the assumption there is even more going on in their head than they are probably talking about.  This may not be because they are trying to keep things from you, most likely because there are so many emotions happening at one time, it is hard to pull them all apart and explain.

If you are feeling seriously down and struggling to cope, speak with your doctor.  There is a lot they can do to help, don’t feel like you shouldn’t ask.

What emotion are you experiencing that you didn’t expect?  Doesn’t have to be cancer related…. let me know in the comment box x

The Weird & Wonderful Things People Say When You Have Cancer

Cancer & Me

Inspired by an article I read in this months Good Housekeeping magazine and their wonderful Good Health spread on Cancer, and more specifically ‘The Way to Talk About the Big C’.  This is such an interesting point when it comes to Cancer for both the person with it and then person they are talking to.

I am the sort of person who likes to talk things over, the more I say it, the easier I can get my thoughts together in my head so when I found out I had cancer, I was happy to call friends & family & let them know what was happening and get to talk it though again and again.  For me it felt good to let everyone know & I’m not going to lie, I also enjoyed hearing all of the kind things that everyone said. Having said that, I think anyone with cancer needs to prepare themselves for the weird  things people say. The most common one being ‘I knew someone who had that cancer & died’, and my personal favourite ‘just think positively & you’ll be fine’, like that’s all it takes.

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Things to avoid saying to someone with Cancer?

  • Try and steer away from unsolicited advice.  You may know someone who cured themselves by eating beetles but sometimes to the person with cancer it can feel overwhelmed enough without extra things to think about. If they are interested in anything like this, they will ask or find out.  You could mention it as a possible option, but never make it sound like it is what they should be doing.
  • Think positively.  This drove me completely potty.  I understand you don’t want your loved one to fall into a pit of depression but  you wouldn’t ask someone to think a broken arm fixed.  I thought that Good Housekeeping worded this perfectly;

‘Cancer is not a character building test with survival as the prize’.

  • But you look fine.  The irony is a lot of cancers don’t make you look ill.  Generally speaking it’s the chemotherapy that makes you look and feel like you have cancer.  Don’t place any importance on how someone looks and it can be difficult when you feel like people aren’t appreciating how you feel  because you don’t look sick enough.
  • You look awful. Seriously… who wants to hear that….. ever?! 🙂

So what should you say?

That you love them and are here for them.  Let them guide you with what they want.  Listen, let them talk about their fears, however irrational they may seem to you, sometimes you just need to say them.  Make tea and help out wherever you can.  Know that if something you say does upset them that it is just an awful time for them and don’t take their reaction to heart.

If you have Cancer, what do you do when someone says something stupid?

Just try & remember, people aren’t saying these things to annoy you, they are saying them because they are probably shocked & feel like they need to say something & they don’t know what to say.  You may also find it is you consoling the person you have just told rather than the other way round. I personally didn’t mind this but I can see how it may be upsetting for some people (I actually started getting quite offended if people didn’t need consoling when I told them, didn’t they care?!)  Obviously they did, but whatever their reaction, remember most people are trying their best, even if they do get it wrong & you are most likely in a very raw emotional place, taking things to heart that would normally not be a big deal.  This, like all your other roller coaster of emotions, is totally natural so don’t feel bad about it.

Love xx