Acceptance of a cancer diagnosis needs to come from within and will likely be difficult to muster at the best of times when things are looking bleak. Reaching this phase of the mindset will definitely allow you to move on to the next step of taking action wherever you are in the cancer-free journey, hopefully for the better. In medical school, we are taught about the five stages of death and dying, which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The reality is that as human beings, we all at some point will have to face the fact that our time here is not indefinite, so it is best that we make smart decisions to optimise our general health and welling.
The cancer-free journey is an emotional rollercoaster even for those who are in the early stages of merely worrying about the prospect of possibly having cancer (which in itself should not be trivialised). For those who are about to or have been diagnosed with cancer, there is likely to be stages of emotions but coping with them will be the first step, whether or not you like this. Most importantly, ‘acceptance’ of cancer isn’t the same thing as ‘resignation’ so the sooner you find yourself at peace with this, the better. The stages may not necessarily progress in a linear fashion to acceptance nor one in which one must proceed through each of the stages. Interestingly, the processes of grieving (e.g. over losing someone) similarly has a sequence of stages and I think it is possible to apply some of the same principles to the cancer-free journey as there will evidently be some level of grief toward the loss of your good health or for the loved one who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Just think of the time when someone says, ‘I used to be able to do X when I was younger…’. Accepting where you are in the present allows you to focus on the here and now and hopefully allow you to move forward to take the next steps.
Courtesy of TEDMED (taken from YouTube) Terms of Service
Sometimes even as a cancer survivor, acceptance of who you are and where you are in your journey is important – one may need to think beyond the divide between ‘sick’ and ‘well’ and embark to find the meaning of life post-cancer, which may not come easy.
At this very moment, you may feel the whole cancer diagnosis is just too raw or surreal to even contemplate if, how and when to disclose the news to your loved ones, your friends and your family. Coming to terms with cancer won’t be easy and you may have a sense of unease about how they may take the news let alone the fact that the reality of a cancer diagnosis hasn’t even sank in for you. For example, you may possibly feel concerned that you may cause unnecessary worry to others, a level of guilt or a feeling of letting people down. It may that you are in fact someone who prefers to keep things to themselves and therefore find the whole process rather alien or even stressful to needing to open up. It may even be that you struggle with the idea that you may have to receive words of sympathies from others or even worried about how you might need to react to such comments whilst having to put on a brave face. Clearly, emotions will be running high but coming to terms with the diagnosis will be the top priority at this stage and then formulating a plan, which is likely to involve disclosure relatively soon. What is important though is that you will need to ensure that you set things in motion at your pace and allow yourself to take control of your actions in a timely manner.