For you, newly diagnosed with Cancer
Why you? Why not you?
You may be shocked. You may be feeling fear, anger, sorrow, despair, loneliness, or a chaos of confusing emotions.
I was. I was overwhelmed and very scared. My whole body trembled with fear
and loneliness despite my efforts to steady it. All my friends with cancer
have had the same experience.
Don't feel embarrassed. Whatever you are feeling, it is normal. Just normal. It is a sign that your body and mind are trying to keep balance.
And, don't blame yourself for having cancer. This thing is like a tornado or an earthquake. You are only in its way. It is not your fault. Never!
Breathe deeply, and let's think about some of the ways we can cope with it.
Don't hurry on your way
You don't have to make a decision about surgery or treatment immediately. I suppose that you have at least a week or so to think about your options. I really understand your anxiety, but you can't make the best decision when you are too anxious to sleep or eat well. I wish you all the best.
So, call your loved ones, have your special favorite dishes, listen to your soothing music.
It will be a tough journey. We need to start out calmly, without haste.
Knowledge is Power
I believe that "knowledge is power."
Learning about your cancer will help you to think of "it" as an illness. Then, you can focus on the next step. Even if some of what you learn is disturbing, having knowledge may be better than having constant fears and anxieties about the future.
You should be satisfied with everything you choose, doctors, treatments, and so on. Please learn as much as possible.
In the English-speaking world, you can get organized support and understanding from your community. There are a lot of very good web sites with all sorts of information on cancer. Many specialists, such as oncologists, physicians, psychologists, social workers, nutritionists, pharmacists, counselors, offer their opinions and will help you. So, I won't go into detail about that here.
Please refer to the . Each site has been really useful to me.
I don't mean that you need to become an authority on cancer. I just want to help you find the tools, so that you can have good communication with your physician, oncologist, nurses and others, as a member of the "team" that is working to cure you.
Knowledge will help reinforce your trust in them.
Open your heart to everyone
Realize that everyone will help you.
If you are shy or too modest, you might hesitate to ask people to support you. You might be thinking..."I don't want to cause anxiety to my loved people." If you are a steady, dependable person, you might think, ..."I hate to bother others." ... "I don't want someone's pity."
But, think about it. If you were in someone's place, you would want to give a hand to others, wouldn't you? You don't have to bear this burden alone. (There might be a few people who will keep you at a distance. They might be too threatened by your situation. Or, maybe they don't know what to do. But, of course, the problem is theirs, not yours. Right? Please give them time to cope and become more comfortable with their own feelings.)
Your fight against your illness will teach you many important things. But
it will also bring lessons to your supporters. Together, you and your supporters
can gain new wisdom.
Your mate, partner, family members, and your close friends sometimes may have more trouble coping than you do. Imagining your pain might be more painful than the pain itself is for you.
So, please accept their offers of help, and suggest specific things that
they can do.
Your openness will help yourself and your loved ones.
Yes, let everyone on your "team" work together.
Hang in there! ... but, don't suppress your feelings
You should cry when you want to cry. It's all right to feel depressed sometimes. Smiles and positive attitude are important, but tears and sighs are also very important for your healing process. I often cry with anxiety and fear of cancer even now. :-)
In our country, Buddhists think of depression as the necessary consequence of seeking stimulation. It advises us to seek an emotional balance in life. Bonzes (Buddhist priests) say that we need depression and tears. Though I am a Christian, I agree with them. It makes you tired to seek only the highs. Don't you think so?
Follow your intuition. Trust in yourself. You can do it. And, please be very gentle and extra kind to yourself.
Let's walk together!
Remember that almost all cancer survivors speak about enjoying life more fully than ever before.
Indeed, my cancer has turned my life upside-down. I lost a lot of things because of it, and I can't say "I am healthy" at all. But still, I too enjoy myself more fully than ever before.
We are all on an odyssey.
Let's walk together!
Please understand that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Much love and prayers from Japan,
Yumi Shibahara Shibuya