This is still fresh for me having been given the news on 23 August 2010. You’re either one of two people reading this, firstly someone who simply wants to understand/is interested. Or the person I really want to get my message to, the individual who has just been told their life is now going to be substantially shorter than you’ve spent most of it thinking it will be and is probably currently in a state of complete mental crises…
Although you will NOT believe me now, I must tell you that the initial shock, fear and utter screaming and complete mental agony you will have felt when the terminal diagnosis was delivered to you, will subside and for most eventually pass. Your mind WILL adjust and accept what is happening and you will be able to think, feel and relax again, eventually. It is amazing what mental anguish the human spirit can deal with.
I can’t really advise you on how best to deal with this early stage aside from offering reassurance that you will get through it and things can and will start to look better again. When you feel able to I would suggest you get straight on the MacMillan Website http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Home.aspx sign up and find the group for your type of cancer. You will find that there are a multitude of people out there who have just gone through or who are in exactly the same position as you. Everyone is incredibly helpful, friendly and willing to give advice. If you don’t currently use the internet or know how to then I would suggest learning ASAP, it could very much save your mental health having that community out there to turn to. There is nothing like shared human experience and the internet is now where it happens. Of course Macmillan also have counsellors and there are other cancer charities both in the United Kingdom and abroad, as well as your Doctor to turn to.
It took about one week for the initial horror and agony to pass for me and then another 1-2 weeks for my thoughts to stabilize enough to start to address the issues of my vastly changed situation. There were a number of ways I attempted to regain a sense of control of my life, one of the most important for me was to decide what I wanted to achieve in the now lessened time I had before I died. All my horizons had changed from being so far in the distance I could barely see them – I was 36 years old, not yet married and with no children, still feeling young – to suddenly being right in front of my nose. It became very important to me to adjust to that by writing in my head new dreams that were achievable in the time I had. I stopped thinking about mid-career changes or retirement for example and started considering next week, or next month, or wouldn’t it be nice if in a years time… I was surprised at how easy it was to make that mental switch.
Once I understood that, I started to see the vast amount of pleasure still to be had in the time remaining and the gift I’d been given of not suffering a sudden death with all the questions that leaves unanswered for so many. Take strength from where you can. Life can and will return to at least a semblance of normality and you will start to feel better about this.
The link below might provide some help to your partner or family members:
▪ Grief and the Cancer Caregiver (everydayhealth.com)