- Reach out to your friends.
- It’s OK to cry, but do so <20 minutes/day.
- Ask for what you need. Be your own advocate.
- Cancer is the best excuse you’ll ever have-use it! “Play the cancer card.”
- Get your priorities straight.
- Keep your sense of humor.
- Find silver linings. Don’t look at this as losing your hair, but rather as an opportunity to get new hats! Visit my Hat Board.
- Get doctors you trust and listen to their advice.
- Be sensitive to your family. Tell them that it’s OK to talk about it. It can be harder on them than on you.
- Get in shape, physically and mentally. Save your energy for the fight. Don’t sweat the small stuff or anticipate too much in advance. Take it “bird by bird.”
- Use your experience to help others.
- Bring your own anesthesia, like ethyl chloride spray and Emla cream. Ask your doctor for a prescription. If you need lots of IV chemo, strongly consider getting a port (catheter) before treatment-it will spare you multiple needle sticks.
- Go iPod!! Have your partner, friends, family, and/or kids put songs on it. Listen during chemo. Read books. Curl up with family & friends, and watch DVDs (try Monk-it’s great and each episode lasts an hour).
- Discover your inner Zen. You will have to wait a lot. Pretend each doctor’s visit is a trip to the airport.
- Savor celebrations. It’s not all about the cancer!
- Ask people to pray for you. Have all denominations covered. Befriend a Buddhist.
*It helped me to write about my cancer experience, as I did in I Signed as the Doctor, and about entirely different things. Here’s a short story I wrote in the first year after treatment about being the Mom of a teenage boy. Click here to read the story.