So here you are, settling into the cancer lifestyle. Zofran in the a.m., Zofran in the p.m., Zofran when you’re nauseated and not sleeping.
You never thought that you would miss your cubicle or your co-worker’s stupid jokes, but for better, or for worse, you do. It’s a bummer having to come to terms with not living your life on your terms. But look at it this way, it’s your mandatory drug-experimentation phase.
Of course, I’m kidding. But at the same time it’s important to realize that you don’t get an award at the end of treatment for being the cancer patient who quietly suffered the most (even if the drug-induced voices in your head tell you otherwise). Don’t get me wrong, you’re going to suffer, but it’s important to fight every day to keep your humanity.
It’s so easy to lock yourself off from the world and stoically endure the pain and agony associated with chemo. During the years that I had cancer I often found myself slipping into that lifestyle. As human beings, it’s our default setting while enduring misery. And, as such, it’s our job to actively fight against it.
So on a real level what can you do to get through the weeks and months of downtime?
1. Get Netflix. Trust me.
2. Make the most out of the good times! You will usually have a three to four day window before you start your next round of chemo/radiation, when you feel better (not good, but better). This is your chance to return to some semblance of normalcy. Grab margaritas with the girls, brewskies with the broskies, or a romantic dinner with a loved one. At the very least, get out of the house!
3. Delegate your daily duties. Making meals, taking the kids to soccer practice, and a million other things that were a walk in the park for “normal you”, are now a lot more difficult for “cancer you.” There are tons of people who want to help–friends, family, neighbors, organizations. Talk to your social worker at your hospital or at the LIVESTRONG Foundation. They’re one of your best resources. Let them help! They want to be there for you.
4. Utilize those that want to help. I never wanted to inconvenience anyone during treatment. I figured I could get through it on my own. I could, and chances are that you can too. But, why?? People have dedicated their lives to helping you during your darkest hour. Cough Cough, LIVESTRONG! So use them as much as possible to make your life as bearable as possible.
5. Spend less time on Facebook. People use Facebook as their own personal shrine to themselves, only showing off good things in their life, people never show the mediocre or negative. So if your life is monotonous and boring, like it all too often is during chemo, it’s easy to see other people’s highlight reel and feel bad about your own life. Stay as far away from social media as you can, and if you do spend time on Facebook be sure to have a 1-1 ratio of productive things (TED Talks, Kahn Academy, good YouTube channels) to Facebook.
6. Journal some. I know it sounds trite and cliché to examine your life during treatment, but you’re are at a pivotal moment of your life. Get your thoughts down on paper. Maybe it will be cathartic? Maybe it will be profound? Maybe it will be a best selling novel? I don’t know, but what I do know is that two to three years from now this whole ordeal will be a distant memory and you’ll look back to this time in your life for strength. I know you’re thinking that sounds strange because you feel very weak right now. But trust me, you’ll think, “If I can make it through chemo, then what I’m going through now is nothing.” So write “future you” a letter; write about what you love and what you’re going to do when you’re healthy. You’ll probably be glad that you did.
Keep your head up. This is doable. Your cancer is beatable. Millions of people have been in the same or worse position you are in and have survived. Throw out the odds; you don’t care about the efficacy of sample group X versus control group Y. You’re a human being who’s fighting for your life, and as long as there’s a one-in-a-million chance, you will fight tooth and nail until you are victorious.