Top 10 Cancer Tips [from a terminal cancer patient]
Cancer is a brutal disease. It devastates families and destroys dreams. Please share these 10 tips with anyone affected by cancer.
1. <<< Understand your diagnosis >>>
A cancer diagnosis is not exact. Far from it. But it should be clear. Ask what stage the cancer is. Ask about the evidence. Ask how confident your doctor is about the diagnosis. Get copies of every blood test, every scan. Ask your doctor to write everything down. Ask for diagrams.
2. <<< Don’t focus on the prognosis >>>
This is a prediction of what will happen and how long you’ll live. It’s often meaningless, which is why so many doctors hesitate to make predictions. Just do your very best to stay in the fight.
3. <<< Ask lots of questions >>>
For each treatment ask “What is the intent? What are the alternatives?” Ask about side effects, and how to reduce them. Ask about clinical trials.
4. <<< You are not your cancer >>>
This is a tough one. You are you. The same person you’ve always been. Don’t let cancer wipe out your personality.
5. <<< Cancer is expensive >>>
Even if your treatment is free, like in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK, you’ll still need extra money. And you may have to stop working. So start saving now. And start crowdfunding.
6. <<< Don’t forget about other people >>>
Ask other people how they are. This is so important. Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean other people’s problems magically vanish. I’m dying from terminal cancer but every day I make sure I check on lots of people.
7. <<< Get organised, quickly >>>
I use monthly planners that I print from the web. That way I can see when everything is, at a glance. Chemo, blood tests, scans, social engagements. Everything.
8. <<< Have as many different treatments as possible >>>
Later on you may be too sick to have treatments, so have them while you can. Cancer evolves. Cancer hides. Having multiple treatments gives you the absolute best chance of survival.
9. <<< Get help from cancer charities and NPOs >>>
Simply talking to someone unconnected to you can be a massive help. But these organisations are also a fantastic source of advice. They can help you with everything from what to ask your doctor to what to bring to chemotherapy.
10. <<< Get good at politely ignoring advice >>>
Most people have no idea what they are talking about. You will be flooded by well-meaning (but dumb) advice. Learn to ignore it without upsetting people.
Bonus tip: <<< Listen to your nurses! >>>
Cancer nurses have spent far more time with cancer patients than any other medical staff. They’re full of wisdom. Some of them have seen the same patients regularly for many years. Talk to them, ask them questions, respect their opinion. It may just save your life.
Wishing you the best of luck with your fight against cancer,