I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on May 23, 2013. The statistics told me that the prognosis for pancreatic cancer is pretty dismal.
But, as I've learned, statistics are not a reason to give up hope. Since my pancreatic cancer diagnosis, I've met a lot of cancer patients and caregivers through myCancerConnection, MD Anderson's one-on-one support program. Together, they have shown me that we all find our own way to cope and to hope as we journey through the darkness. As I've learned from my own experience and from listening to others' stories, keeping hope alive and maintaining a positive mindset during treatment really makes a difference.
Using visualization to cope with cancer treatment
During chemotherapy, a friend suggested that I picture a bright candle dripping wax and snuffing out the cancer cells. That was WAY too mild for me. This was a war, and I told my doctors to throw everything they had at it.
Instead, I envisioned little green army men fighting my cancer. I decided to accept that this battle was bigger than me. After all, I was just the battlefield. That acceptance gave me a sense of peace and helped me cope with treatment.
What helped me during my pancreatic cancer treatment
So many cancer patients that I have met feel compelled to determine how they got cancer. In my case, I am an anomaly. I do not fit the profile for pancreatic cancer. I have no family history. I did not have any of the conditions that make you susceptible. Accepting that my diagnosis was just bad luck made it easier for me to focus on the treatment.
I chose to focus on achieving victory rather than worrying about how I got cancer. I kept my head in the game by keeping my eye on the prize and surviving for my army of caregivers and friends. I took things one day at a time and only looked to the next day, the next treatment. This kept me from feeling overwhelmed.
I encourage you to find whatever scenario works for you. It may be calm and peaceful, like the dripping wax, or violent like my war visual. Regardless of how you cope, stay positive, stay hopeful and most importantly, get up, show up and never, ever give up.
To connect with other cancer patients and caregivers through myCancerConnection, please call 800-345-6324 or visit myCancerConnection online.