Virginia asked me what to expect and here's what I shared:
- You are the appropriate focus of attention, but you will quickly realize that it's a family diagnosis...it will greatly affect your husband, your kids and those you love the most. So remind people to care for them too.
- Keep working if you can, but at a reduced level. It helps to have something else to focus on during treatment and a reason you have to get going on the days when you don't really feel like it.
- Be prepared for a long journey that extends 2-3 years beyond the end of your "official" treatment. The end of treatment is really just the beginning of climbing your way back up the hill to feeling good again.
- Lower your standards and give yourself a break. Get rid of anything that takes your time that doesn't really need to be done or obligations that others can fill for now.
- Party a lot....losing your hair?...make a party out of it. Just finished another round of chemo? Time for a great glass of wine. Celebrate all the steps along the way and mark them off as major victories to celebrate with those you love the most.
- Talk to people who've gone thru it for advice, but remember that your cancer is your own...there are many differences in treatment, but there are common coping strategies that survivors can help you with.