Hearing for the first time that you have cancer is an indescribable moment. Before that, you could hold out hope that everything would be okay, but no more.
For most people it is a time of unspeakable fear and terror.
Your mind is filled with thoughts of leaving those you love, thoughts of all you will lose, like dignity and independence. Time seems to stand still, priorities change in an instant, and life and death take on new meaning.
Once the initial shock wears off, it’s time to make a choice. How are you going to cope?
Coping means finding a way through all the overwhelming emotions to find a level of acceptance, and a way to make the most of whatever time you have left. Coping means coming to a point where you are living with the disease, not dying of it.
In discovering a way to cope, many feel a strong need to regain control. Life has become crazy, chaotic, spinning recklessly out of control, and no one wants to live that way. You now have to live with some uncertainty, uncertainty that did not exist before. You can take hold of your life by setting goals for yourself.
Any kind of goal will give you that sense of control you so desperately need- short term goals, long term goals, goals to try new things, goals to right wrongs, goals to make peace, simple goals, big goals, any goals at all, just have goals! Goals not only give you a sense of control, they give you purpose, a reason to live.
Cancer does not take away your ability to have goals. Your goals will change, as your life will change, but they give you something worth living for.
Be creative. It is amazing how creativity gives you a sense of control in an otherwise chaotic world. Creativity comes in many forms, so see outside the box- write a story, sing, paint, cook, sculpt, carve, draw, knit, bead, anything.
It doesn’t matter if you’re good or not, if you create it and you like it, nothing else matters.
Somehow in the process of creating, you will feel control, because you control your creation, it is yours, created your way.
Creativity is an absolutely wonderful outlet for emotion. You will find that all those overwhelming emotions you can’t deal with can finally be dealt with in your creativity. Creativity of any kind lends itself to a great sense of self-satisfaction, peace, and even joy in a time when those things are hard to come by.
Dealing with those you love can also become a major issue in coping with cancer. Oftentimes, they will unknowingly keep their distance. Fear enters your relationship, which can cause isolation. You may feel untouchable or diseased.
Tell them what you feel, tell them the truth. Reassure those you love that your life may be different now, but you are the same person. Reassure them that you are same person they loved before cancer, and now that you have cancer, you need them even more.
You want to know how to cope with cancer- do just that, cope with it. Decide to live, find a reason to live, and then live to the fullest!