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How to move on after diagnosis


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OK, I know I am always a sourpuss whenever I post, but ya'll are the only people I can turn too and who can answer me from experience.

How do you move on after diagnosis? I have never been optomistic, I'm trying now........how do you wake up everyday and get going without having "cancer" hanging over your head? I can't get through an hour without it creeping up on me. Of course I can't look in the mirror without seeing it, because of treatment I can feel it and taste it.

How do I live a "normal" life without this consuming me and bringing me down? How do I repress it or forget about it? How do I stop crying, it's not just feeling sorry for myself......it's pain, frustration, guilt, everything?!

I see a psychiatrist once a week and she trys to help, but there again, she has never been there and it's not something they teach in college.

Any advise would be great!!

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Beth ~

It is difficult to move forward, but somehow we muddle through....and after a while, it gets a little easier.

I remember, close to the end of rad/chemo, laying in bed crying, saying that when I was diagnosed, I didn't seem sick at all.....then, after surgery, I FELT sick.......and during chemo/radiation I began to LOOK sick....and that was harder on me than anything. Because then everyone else could look at me and tell I was sick too. Psychologically, that was the hardest thing.

I too saw a psychologist, that specialized in cancer, right after treatment ended and all I did was cry on him. I stopped going because I figured I could cry without his help. A year later I went back and tried again with a psychiatrist -- it was tremendously helpful to me. Is your psychiatrist a cancer specialist? Perhaps you need to switch to someone else that might be able to provide more help for you? I think it all depends on how you 'connect' with the person you are talking too.

I don't think you are doom and gloom at all. I think that you are getting close to the end of treatment and questioning the "what now?" phase of this rollercoaster ride. Hang in there. You are approaching the top of the hill and you'll be coasting soon enough.

We have similar diagnoses and treatments. If you ever want to talk, PM me at any time!


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I don't have cancer (my dad does) but I can say this. You know no one is promised tommarrow. I could walk out the door tommarrow and drop dead from a heart attack. My cousin (a long time ago ) died when she was 21 in a drowning accident in the lake. She didn't have cancer and the thought of dying never crossed her mind.

So, you have cancer. It will be okay, fight like hell and don't let the cancer tell you how you are going to live......

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The others are right with all the things they've said. I want to add that, through counseling, I finally have learned that we can only control so much and have to leave what we can't control to God or whatever higher power you believe in. If we do everything we know how to do and take advantage of all we can use to fight our disease, then the rest is not up to us.

I also think that time is a great healer. You've been diagnosed relatively recently, and between the shock of all the treatment and not feeling well besides, this is a tough thing to deal with emotionally. But, as the days go by and you're getting up in the morning and carrying on, it will get to be a habit again to get up in the morning and carry on.

You will have fun again and good days and all the things you had before......it will just take some time.


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There's a couple of things that come to mind. First off, take that word "normal" and add the word "new" to it. Don Wood first brought up the term "new normal" to describe life after a cancer dx and it works for me. You DON'T wake up each day without it being there because .... well .... it's there.

But you can take a break from thinking about it every minute of the day. I call it "thinking about a zebra". Here's how it works. If I'm asked NOT to think about an elephant, guess what? E-yup. No matter how hard I try to not think about that darn elephant, there he is right in front of me with those big floppy ears, long nose and wrinkly grey skin. But I've found that if I think about a zebra instead then POOF, the elephant is gone. So I work VERY hard at times during the day where I think about other things instead. I have some favorite tv shows. I play poker on the internet. Whatever works for you.

Finally ... break it down into bite sized pieces. You don't swallow a whole steak all at once. And you can't live your life "all at once" either. One day at time, one hour at a time, one MINUTE at a time you just take care of the next indicated thing, whatever that means at the time, and the next thing you know you've made it through one more day or one more week or whatever.

Living with cancer isn't easy. It takes work in areas we sometimes aren't used to dealing with. But it CAN be done ... and succesfully.

Keep banging away at it, Beth. You'll find the enjoyment in life that's there for the ones that look for it.


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For me, it is like that old commercial where the older lady says, "I wake up each morning, and I can choose to be happy or choose to be unhappy. I choose to be happy." I think there is a lot in attitude and working toward positive things instead of dwelling on the negative. We do make those choices and sometimes we have to decide to move in that direction long before we actually feel it is true. I wish you the best. Don

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In the early days I took it hour by hour. I actually "scheduled" my "panic" times! I would allow myself so many minutes out of every hour to think about all the big-bad-scaries. I made a deliberate decision to do just about anything except think about cancer, it's treatments, the condition of my body at the time (I had surgery to both the upper and lower lobes of my right lung, and developed pneumonia in that lung) during the time when I wasn't "allowed" to think about cancer. It wasn't easy at first, but over time it did become so. Eventually it became how it is now...I think about having cancer, but I don't panic very often. And I don't think about having cancer all of the time. I've carved out a life where having Lung Cancer is a big part of my world, but it isn't my entire world.

It's a little like having a pet walrus...kind of hard to ignore one of those, but if you live with anything long enough you adjust. :wink:

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Hi Beth,

I am so proud of all our good friends who have replied to your post. What courageous and inspirational thoughts they have expressed!

I think I am going to print this page out and give it to my husband to read.

My heart goes out to you and I will pray that you can find the strength and courage to fight this beast . Paddy

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Yep, I agree with the supportive posts above...Im just recovering from surgery, (left lung removed), but even at time of diagnosis I realized that my life would never be the same again. No more peace of mind about my health, no more "fat, dumb, and healthy", so to speak...and I know I have to accept that cold hard fact, and move on and do the best I can with what I have left of my health, and body.

Its tough, you bet, ...to know how drastically your life has permanently changed, but theres just no way around it. So accept that you have to go on, work your way thru it...and of course allow yourself your feelings, ...a good cry when ya gotta...seek help and support when you need it....then pick up and work on the tasks at hand, be it the next treatment, or vacuuming the rug.

I guess its a little like a loss of innocence must be for a young child...but if dealt with and worked thru...can eventually bring you to a reasonably comfortable place, with a new maturity and knowledge about life.

Good luck as you work thru it all.

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When I was first dx the big C almost overwhelmed me. If I was awake I was thinking about it and worrying about it. The first thought in the morning the last thought at night and riding through all my dreams like the parasite from hell. To combat it I play mindless computer games, I watch movies, I listen to music. In time the volume goes down and other things take over. There is only so much you can think about it. I too have found talking to a couselor a great help, and while Cancer is a big part of what we discuss I am working on other issues as well. Plus my dear are you taking an anti deppressant? Better living through Chemistry. It will help.

We love and are behind you. Hang in there and watch for Zebras!



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Don is correct when he states we have a new normal to adjust to. The old normal is gone, and is never coming back.

Yes, it is a shock, an abrupt one, indeed a loss of innocence as rich so aptly put it.

The way to get thru it is, indeed, put one foot in front of the other. Take one minute, one task at a time. Don't look any further than that. And, if you do believe, PRAY. There is power in prayer.

I used to wake up and thing the whole thing was a nightmare, and then it would sink in that it was reality, I was awake, and I had cancer.

I would cry in the bathtub (lots of bubbles) every morning, and then get up and go on. If I got too depressed, I'd take a nap by lying down and praying myself to sleep. I invoked a LOT of distractions, movies, novels, etc. My life was defined by treatments and physical therapy and dr. appts.

When I was finally cleared to go back to work I was still exhausted, mentally and physically, but I went. I did indeed seek counseling, and was fortunate enough to find a woman who specialized in whole person counseling -- mind/body/spirit-- and particularly dealt with extreme medical conditions.

I also realized that I had the chance to evaluate my life and what was important in it, a second chance in a way, that I wouldn't have had if the beer truck with my name on it came rolling down the hill.....

So, everything has changed, but nothing has changed, really. How I see it all has changed, on top of the physical changes, and it is with great awareness that I DEFINE MUCH OF THIS NEW NORMAL.

Granted, it takes some getting used to. It's like waking up to find you were "volunteered" for something you can't get out of. Make the best of it.

Sorry to be so long winded.

Bottom line, we're here for you. New friends are always a good thing.


Prayers always,


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Thanks everyone! I needed this! Feeling better after reading the responses.

I have new chemo treatment next week and may need some more "pick me ups" then. Bare with me, I know once treatment is over, I can be like everyone else and help the next person through this. :?

I really didn't think treatment would be this hard! Boy was I wrong!

Thanks again!

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What GREAT replies from everyone...Thank you.

Following my DX I was a basket case for weeks..absolutely miserable...I was gonna die. Well I still am, but I realized that I still had time to enjoy life. I now greet every new day with a grin and head out determined to have a ball. I decided that it didn't make sense to make my remaining days long and horrible when I could make them short by having a "ton-o-fun". I can't wait to get to work and be with friends or to hook up the boat and hit the water.

When your days are numbered the saying "Life is short..enjoy it"!!! takes on a whole new meaning.

Is my prognosis good....no

Am I having more fun.....YOU BET I AM



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I think I was probably at my lowest during my treatment too. And its justified. You will feel better, with all this down the road. I still lose it occasionally, but I only allow brief intreludes with despair. CANCER is waiting for weaknesses. You are doing fine, you will do better, although nothing will go back to what it was, whos to say it won't be even better... than it was... it is hard.. we all know it... don't be hard on yourself

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Hi ! Iam new to this site. I was dx 7-31-03 w/ nsclc at age 49, two weeks

short of my 50th birthday. I have two married daughters and four gorgeous grandkids who are the loves of my life. I have been a single

parent since my kids were 7 and 9. Did everything alone w/ no child

support and that to me was way harder than cancer (believe it or not). I was early stage three w/ lymph node envolvment. I had my top lobe of

my right lung removed on 9-15-03. Had radiation and cemo at the same

time was done all treatment by 1-23-04 and went back to work one week

later. (Had no chose, I live alone) That was one of the hardest things

I've ever done. I know how scared you are, the doubts and fears can

overwhelm you if you allow it. I have had all good test results and so

far so good. We all wait for the other shoe to drop. Cancer patients are

just more aware of their mortality. One of the funniest things is when my

hair was growing in and was about a half an inch long. My grandson

who was 3 1/2 at the time. Saw me w/o my wig for the first time. He

shook his head and in his innocents said, Grammy I don't know what you

did to your hair but it don't look so good. I absolutely howled w/ laughter

it just hit my funny bone. When I get down in the dumps I just think of

Joseph and smile. My two oldest grandchildren are now 4 and 5 and

and they have seen what smoking can do and hopefully they will never smoke. I smoked for 35 yrs. I try to look at the postive of all this. I lost 30 lbs. I only needed to loose 20 (memopause weight gain) So I had to gain 10 back. Got to eat good stuff. They radidated the crap out of my sterum. They orginally found cells starting to go under it and to the other lung. So swallowing was a challenge.

I don't know if you have children or grandchildren, but they got me

through alot. I wake up every morning and think, I want to see them

grow up, play sports, go to college, get married and have families. And

if I don't, they will know that they had a grandmom who was strong and

fought this god awlful disease with everything she had.

My dad passed in 99 of Pancreatic cancer. He survived 4yrs and 2 months which is a long time for that type of cancer. He showed us everyday that life is worth fighting for. And when he passed at the age of

67 he accepted it with grace, but he fought hard and had a good life.

Try to look at the postive. I truely know how hard it is , but it's all

we have. Good luck to you and I will pray for you.

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