So you just got diagnosed with cancer huh? I’m not going to lie to you, that’s a fuckin bummer. But have no fear! Cancer isn’t the worst thing in the world and you’re probably not gonna die in the next ten minutes from it, so let’s discuss what you should do next.
Step 1: Take a Deep Breath
Remember like 10 seconds ago when I said cancer isn’t the worst thing in the world? I do. Now, some people may disagree with me here, but I firmly believe that getting a cancer diagnosis, while not a good thing, isn’t the worst fate out there either. The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath, relax, and take everything in stride. You just got diagnosed with cancer, but you didn’t die, you simply started on a journey. Remember that nothing is set in stone and this journey you’re now embarking on is one that a lot of other people are on too so you’re not alone.
Step 2: Don’t Post On Social Media
Perhaps this is personal preference, but I don’t believe in announcing bad news like this over social media. Two reasons here: 1, if you just got the bad news you may be overly-emotional and start writing shit that’s all crazy and inappropriate. The much bigger reason 2, if you are well-connected via social media, your post is going to spread too quickly. I know the whole point of social media is to tell everyone everything but you may not want every person you’ve ever met to know this information. When confronted with a cancer diagnosis, people have a desire to reach out and apologize, no matter their relationship to you. You can do whatever you like, I’m just saying you may not want to have to respond to 1,000 texts asking if you’re ok right after you got diagnosed. It’s overwhelming and the types of people reaching out or not reaching out can be frustrating. Unless you wanna be talking to your neighbor’s uncle’s nephew’s third cousin about a major medical issue, I’d suggest staying off Twitter for a few days.
Step 3: Do the Right Kind of Research
You just got a bunch of crazy cancer terms thrown at you so you’re probably tempted to go online and look up what the fuck is going on with your cancer diagnosis online. That’s ok, to an extent. If you wanna look up the medical research on what your cancer is so you have a better grip of what’s going on, go for it. But stay away from statistics. Death rates, remission rates, general cancer hoopla, those are all no-no’s. You have to realize that percentages and statistics are numbers drawn from a large population. That means they have no bearing on any individual case, only what is most likely to happen in a random sample. I mean, winning the lottery is like a billion to one odds but people still win it all the time, and those odds are way worse than survival rates of any cancers. I’m just saying don’t get bogged down in what theoretically is likely/unlikely to happen cause you’ll wind up pre-determining your own fate.
Another smart type of research to do is to find a community online of people with your same condition/diagnosis. Cancer is complicated and finding people who have been through your specific treatment before can offer good advice. Don’t get too general though, asking someone with stage 1 skin cancer what their treatment was like when you have stage 4 pancreatic cancer isn’t gonna be of much help.
Step 4: Start a Blog
Ohh the blogger is telling me to start a blog, what a surprise. Hey, listen here butt munch, I’m just trying to help. Starting a blog is a good way to get your situation and emotions on theoretical paper and gives you an easy answer to “how are you?” By writing a blog, you can give a detailed explanation of what is wrong, what the treatment plan is, and your thoughts and feelings. Then, when people ask, rather than having to explain everything you can just say “read this.” It’s a huge time saver and keeps you from getting overwhelmed.
Step 5: Stay Calm, Stay Positive
Your adventure is about to begin. You’re gonna learn a lot, meet new people, and be introduced to a healthcare system you may have never experienced until now. There’s lessons you’ll learn, losses you’ll suffer and wins you’ll celebrate. Just strap in and get ready for the ride. Reach out to others when you need help, don’t get addicted to painkillers, make friends with your medical team, develop a dark sense of humor, and keep your head above water. Everything’s going to be ok. Probably.