Ten Steps for the newly diagnosed-Cancer

Eight years ago, my life was upended by the words you don’t want to hear from a doctor…”I am the cancer doctor.We need to get you scanned tomorrow! From the initial shock and awe until now, I am thriving and teaching and loving life! A friend recently reached out for advice….a What to Expect when you are Cancer-ing.

  1. You have a choice on how you show up! Cancer impacts almost every aspect of your life, but it cannot control your attitude. Identify yourself as a well person going through some health struggles. Choose your mindset and invite similarly positive people into your life. This is not the time to hold on to negative people or words.
  2. Make sure you know who you can contact for after hours questions. When your bones are in pain from a strong chemotherapy, you want to know who you should reach out to at 3 am. Your contact may be the nurse, a doctor, the on-call staff. You don’t want to be miserable and in pain while you search for that number. Put this contact in. your phone where you or a family member can access immediately. Nurse Jackie always told me not to suffer unnecessarily. Take your anti nausea meds…If the kind you are using isn’t working, ask for something else! I liked phenergen because there was a sleep component.
  3. It’s just hair…It will grow back. Many salons offer services where they will shave your head of remaining strays and help you get fitted for a wig. Salon 808 in Hawaii can help! Salon 808 owner Henri Ramirez offers this service for free! I was lucky to be able to have this service in 2012. Look around and check with the local salons. https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/6621789/hairstylist-offers-heart-felt-help-to-cancer-patients/ (If you have long hair, you may want to make a donation to Locks of Love.
Friend Liz King donating her hair for wigs for cancer

4. Allow yourself to rest when you need to rest, but get outside daily to exercise. Even a short walk can restore your spirits and keep you going! Walking connects to all things good! (Wear high SPF because many treatments include sun sensitivity!)

Walking on the North Shore of Oahu

5. Wash your hands! My watch remind me every time I step into the house. If you don’t have that feature put a visible note on the door to your home. You’ll be surprised how long 20 seconds is!!

Apple’s New Series 6 Watch has a hand washing feature! Of course you can always just sing Happy Birthday Twice!

5. Write everything down-keep copies of lab and scan results! Bring a friend to appointments if you need help with the plethora of information. You always think you will remember, but it is so easy to forget. Also, ask for the drug information from the pharmacy. If you experience side effects, you want to know if this is normal or not! Often, you can get copies of your records from your medical facility. You never know when this will be useful! Again, you think you will remember it all…but maybe not.

6. Find support-Family, friends, Cancer Support groups. Those in the group will know exactly what you are talking about when you discuss Carbo-Taxol and Neupogen. Group members can share their experiences with similar treatments! Our group has started Zooming which is great in Covid times.

7. Relentless Forward Motion. Don’t focus on the massive journey ahead, but rather one hill at a time. Find a near term goal that you can focus on. Whether it’s eating healthy, going for a walk, reading a book, or listening to a podcast! Keep on going!

Ultra marathon preparation

8. Statistics are depressing! You are not a statistic. Those numbers are from 5 + years ago, and they are not YOU. Statistics are grim and they don’t set your mind in the right direction. STOP looking at them now.

9. Take pictures!?! Yes, take pictures! I actually wish I had more. When you are in the pits, you will get better. Your hair will grow a little, and then a little bit more. Don’t you want to see if it looks a little longer? The photos will serve as a document of your progress moving forward.

10. Gather information on cutting edge treatments! Make sure you share these articles with your physician. Cutting edge treatment for Ovarian Cancer is Immunotherapy. Is your doctor on the cutting edge? Ask for a second opinion. I listed to Dr. Death on the Wondery podcast this year and was shocked that despite sketchy procedures and treatments, patients continued to see this Doctor.

Reach out to me on Twitter @kymbalk and Instagram @mommykym