5 things that helped me cope with my diagnosis

“Why me?” is a question o lot of people ask themselves after being confronted with a cancer diagnosis. There is no answer to this question, of course. Yet, a few considerations can help struggling with fate. Fate has a name – the name of your disease. But fate has other names as well. And you can even rename it…

1.) Be grateful for all the good luck you have had in your life  

I remember that only weeks before being diagnosed with cancer, my husband and I wondered how we had deserved such a perfect life. We had healthy children and could feed them all, we had lots of friends and an active social life, we had a big family which supported us and travelled a lot. I was successful in my job and loved it. I knew that the education I had received was excellent. I was grateful for living in a wealthy, democratic country where women were treated well. Just because I had been diagnosed with cancer did not mean that my life as such was bad. Quite the contrary. Life had been kind to me so far and I was fully aware of all the blessings I had received. I had never taken them for granted. That’s the reason why there was not a lot of room for self-pity after the diagnosis.

Don’t  take all the good things in life for granted. Be grateful for them. They dont cease too exist, just because you have been diagnosed.

2.) Take a proactive approach towards the future

After the initial shock, I planned my future: I drafted my last will and a patient’s decree. I decided to move to Spain, although some of my doctors did not fully support me. I started asking my questions in a different way, when I wanted to gain information from doctors. Let me give you an example: If I asked them: “Would you recommend travelling to Africa?” they would answer “No” and describe all their concerns. Being challenged by the questions “What do I have to be aware of if I want to travel to Africa?” instead, made them give me advice and practical solutions.

Your future remains in your hands, although you might have to compromise because of your diagnosis.

3.) Are you satisfied with the decisions you have made in your life?

I had always lead an adventurous life and tried out a lot of things. I love this world and all the possibilities it offers so much. Thinking back, there was not much I regretted in my past – because whatever had happened, I was happy with the outcome. Twenty years ago, a friend of mine used to say about me: “She is the kind of person who lives every day like it was her last one.”

If you feel sorry about some of your decisions, don’t forget that it is not too late to change them; even the fundamental ones, if necessary. If not now, when then? 

4.) Surround yourself with those who care for you and love you

Not only did I have a family who cared for me, but I also had children who needed me. I think being needed by someone makes any diagnosis a lot easier to deal with, because one of your major concerns are those depending upon you.

Surround yourself only with positive people who make you happy and who genuinely care.

5.) Be prepared to take risks

After receiving bad news about one ‘s health, there are two options: The first one is to be so worried about keeping the status quo that you start behaving like it had already worsened. And the second one is to take advantages of all the benefits the status quo still offers in comparison to what awaits your health wise. I opted for the second – and reckon that this has helped me to cope.

Be aware of all the possibilities you have despite of your diagnosis. Make good use of them – and of your time.

I am not starry-eyed and I understand that 1.) and 3.) are things not everybody can count upon in their lives. Having been diagnosed with leukemia has made me appreciate the privileges I have enjoyed in my life so far even more. I might have cancer, but I would not want to swap lives with anyone.

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