A pastoral counselor suggested: “Don’t sing songs of joy or praise to a heavy heart. What he meant is that people just don’t want to hear that everything is going to be alright. Realistically acknowledge with the patient that you truly believe in good things. Simply “be there” for that person. This may simply be just “hanging out” or sitting and listening to the person who just needs a sounding board to vent.

Dr. Bob Winters, Sports Psychologist whose mother had breast cancer

So much of the cancer process is to emotionally deal with the scattered thoughts that abound and that come from anywhere. Many of these are so deeply felt. Those who do not have cancer simply don’t have the capacity to understand and fix the problem with a logical thought process. Cancer is not logical, nor should we expect or want our supporters to try and fix us. What we really need is the unconditional patience to hang in there and give a simple smile of “I have no idea what this could be like but if you tell me I will try my best to understand.”

Dr. Bob Winters, Sports Psychologist whose mother had breast cancer

For many years, I sat and drove my Mother to therapy for all sorts of radical treatments. The one thing she always told me is that the quality of life is the most important…not the quantity. It seems that the one thing we need to give our loved ones of the gift of time shared, when they want it, and to recognize that they may need to be alone. As a supporter, ask when it is good to be with them and when they want you to leave them for awhile. Sometimes the gift of silence yet “in physical and psychological presence” is the greatest gift of all.

Dr. Bob Winters, Sports Psychologist whose mother had breast cancer

It is okay to be happy and it is okay to cry.

Nina, Breast Cancer Survivor

Don’t get upset at those who say the wrong things because they just don’t know

Nina, Breast Cancer Survivor

Don’t be afraid to be a beautiful, BOLD diva!

Nina, Breast Cancer Survivor

Tip: It is the 21st century and supportive care for Cancer treatment (chemotherapy and radiation therapy) has made huge strides to combat side effects. Communication with your MD/Clinical staff about what you are experiencing is vital to give you optimal care. There is no reason to suffer due to side effects, but if you don’t share your new or worsening symptoms, we can’t help.

Julie McClain, Clinical Trials Nurse and daughter of a cancer survivor

We are a team in your care and you are a vital part of the outcome of this journey by providing us with open and regular dialogue about how you feel. TALK to us when you have a doctor’s visit, test, treatment, or injection.

Julie McClain, Clinical Trials Nurse and daughter of a cancer survivor

This is an oldie for anyone who is feeling sick and not up to visitors. Many people “drop by” to cheer you up, bring food, etc. Put a small TV-like table at the front door with a pad and pencil plus a note explaining that you do not feel well enough for visitors. Ask visitors to leave a note with name, phone number, etc on the table and a list of what they brought.

Doris Deal, whose husband had cancer

I found it good to schedule radiation treatments for the first appointment after lunch. They were always on time and that way you had the morning to get something accomplished in the way of work of any kind.

Vicky Moon, Breast Cancer Survivor

I found it useful to consult with a dermatologist midway through radiation. Nobody offered this to me but if your skin starts to bubble or blister the dermatologist will have just the right treatment for you. Radiologists and oncologists do their thing and may not always think of your skin.

Vicky Moon, Breast Cancer Survivor

Schedule a few splurges to the nail salon, spa, etc and then as soon as you get the “all clear” sign, go on a mini break to some place special.

Vicky Moon, Breast Cancer Survivor

I liked this thought and often reminded myself of it. “How fortunate I am to live in the age when so much has been found out about early detection and appropriate treatment. The professionals that are out there are so skilled, too.

Breast Cancer Survivor

It is perfectly fine – and may actually help – to cry and share your feelings with a family member after you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Not talking or sharing will not make it “go away”.

Susie Payne, Nurse

At all times post-diagnosis, from figuring out what treatment to use, to during treatment, to recovery and remission, spend your time with positive people. Only.

Everyone, particularly once we get into our 40’s and beyond, has been touched by cancer, knows someone who has had cancer. Some use this experience to be positive and helpful.

Others, when they’re told of your situation, use it as a prompt to dredge up a horror story or for their own cathartic release. Unless that person is very dear to you, do not give them a second chance to bring you down – the fight you’re in is emotional and spiritual as well as medical.

Randy Carda whose late wife Shirlee had cancer

Whenever you go for a consultation or treatment, bring a clear-headed caregiver or advocate, or if that’s not possible, take extensive notes. Make the doctor explain what’s going on, what the timeline is, where you need to go next, what the possible side effects are, etc. Uncertainty feeds anxiety. Pain medication can fog reasoning and memory, write it down, have your advocate understand the situation. You’ll be a more compliant and less anxious patient.

Randy Carda whose late wife Shirlee had cancer

As your treatment progresses, side effects appear, and additional medications come onto the scene, write down your med schedule. Dosage, what time, what day medicine needs to be taken. If pain management or nausea management are part of the treatment program, you must stay ahead of the pain or nausea. Meds must be taken timely and not missed. Follow a written schedule each day, mark off the med as it’s taken.

Randy Carda whose late wife Shirlee had cancer

It’s important to be well-nourished in your fight, but at the same time chemo or fear of nausea can mess up your sense of taste or smell. Have a wide variety of healthy foods available in the house, fruits, nuts, granolas, crackers, dairy, on and on.

Randy Carda whose late wife Shirlee had cancer

If nothing appeals to you, but it’s time to eat, prepare (or have your care giver prepare) a small plate with a taste of a variety of foods: a couple grapes, a sprinkle of nuts, a little cheese, a little mashed potato, some chocolate, whatever might appeal to you. The caregiver should leave the little buffet where you can reach it, and refresh it and change it up regularly.

Randy Carda whose late wife Shirlee had cancer

Stay hydrated throughout your treatments. Water, juices, small shakes should always be at hand.

Randy Carda whose late wife Shirlee had cancer

If you’re fighting to maintain your weight, always give in to food whims. I was sent out one evening looking for calf’s liver for Shirlee, and cooked it when I got home. Nothing had appealed to her for days, the urge hit her, and she ate with gusto.

Randy Carda whose late wife Shirlee had cancer

Give yourself permission to NOT answer the phone. Check caller ID and just ignore calls if you’re too tired to talk. Callers who really want to contact you will leave a message.

Cathy Weaver, breast cancer survivor

If you are going through chemotherapy and losing your hair, you keep a lint roller close by. It will help you cope with the shedding. After my head was shaved, I also used the lint roller to grab those short itchy hairs that kept falling on my clothes and irritating my neck. Frankly, I even used the lint roller on my scalp to grab those shedding hairs.

Cathy Weaver, breast cancer survivor

When friends and family offer help, accept it! If you don’t have something for them to do that moment, keep their names and numbers on a list and call them when you realize you need an errand run.

Cathy Weaver, breast cancer survivor

Update everyone’s number in your phone. That way you don’t have to fumble with the phone book or lost notes when you need to call someone. It will also help you identify callers before you answer the phone.

Cathy Weaver, breast cancer survivor

While you don’t want your children to worry, understand that they will worry. However, they will cope better if you let them help you. Depending on their ages, give them chores and make sure they know how much you appreciate their help.

Cathy Weaver, breast cancer survivor




Guide Posts of Strength