Triple Whammy or How to Cope with Multiple Cancers Part IV – I think I can – by HD
Even with a good support system (like I wrote about last week), and with all the education about my cancers, it was difficult at times to stay positive and remain motivated; especially when unexpected things happened.
After I had the radiation and chemo for the throat cancer behind me (more about dealing with the treatments itself in a future segment), and I was just about to start the treatments for the thyroid cancer; – in other words, things were moving merrily along the treatment path, and I felt rather good about it; – that is when I suffered a rather nasty setback and got a scary reminder.
Again there was a little bump involved, this time on my left lower arm. I thought it was an inflamed insect bite, one of my doctors called it a cyst again, – but my throat surgeon stated, if he were in my shoes, after having had two cancers already, he would have it looked at. Peace of mind, he said. – So, I had it removed and biopsied (=checked for cancer cells in a pathology lab). And a couple of days later the doctor called and told me that it again was a malignancy, this time a rather rare and highly aggressive form of skin cancer called merkel cell carcinoma.
WHAMM, there was the third strike for me within six months!!
Of course my fragile positive outlook took a severe knocking and it was hard to stay upbeat. Very hard indeed.
So, how do you motivate yourself when bad news keeps rolling in. What kept me going? What tools did I use? What made it easier?
I really believe that positive motivation and an optimistic outlook are helpful in the fight of any disease, including cancer. – Positive thoughts create positive emotions; and perhaps that can have some chemical effects on the brain, and subsequently the body, Not much hard research evidence is available for that, but to me personally it makes some sense. – Take for instance when your are sad and cry, that surely is a strong emotion that triggers a watery solution do develop in your tear ducts. Here definitely an emotion is triggering an observable reaction. – So, it might be conceivable, that positive emotions (thoughts) indeed may trigger mechanisms (like endorphines or some other chemicals) in the body that are helpful in healing and in fighting cancers. (Disclaimer: I am not a scientist, nor a physician, and I am expressing a person opinion here. I don’t know for sure if this is the case, it just sounds plausible to me).
Personally I used motivational CDs and audiobooks to induce positive reinforcing thoughts, and to help me fight some of the fears and anxieties related to my treatments. It is a form of meditation or self hypnosis.
When I was receiving my radiation and chemo treatments, I also took rather strong pain medications like oxycodon, and then woke up in the middle of the night when the pain medication had worn off. It took a good half hour till a new pain pill kicked in (and made me tired again). But that time is emotionally rather dangerous, because one inevitably starts to think about ones situation and starts to brood. – That was a very good time to listen to these motivational audiobooks. A friend gave me a CD by Dr. Andrew Weil with the title of “Meditation for Optimum Health” – that one I liked. Another helpful one was specifically geared towards patients undergoing chemo therapy, and cancer treatment. The author is Belleruth Naparstek. If you’re interested, here is the link to her chemotherapy CD, and here the link to “Meditation to Fight Cancer”. There are other similar CDs available on the internet.
The way these audio books work is they make you “visualize” or “imagine” that the cancer cells are leaving your body. As I said, it is a kind of self hypnosis. – Did it really work for me? – I do not know. – But, it kept my mind busy and channeled my thoughts away from my cancers and its potential worst outcome, namely death.
I understand that many people, especially at a stressful time like fighting one or more cancers, turn to various forms of comfort for additional support. And I think that is a valid approach. As long, in my opinion, these thoughts are positive and healing relevant. Blaming yourself or your body for what is happening, I feel, is counterproductive and not helpful. What is important is that you find the emotional support that is right for you and that will help to get you through this cancer crisis. Use the resources that you feel most comfortable and familiar with.
In closing this chapter, I’d like to ask you, what kept you going? When you had doubts, what motivated you to keep on fighting? What inspired you to be able (like the little steam engine in the children story) to say “I think I can” beat these monsters? – Do you have other suggestions that might help fellow cancer sufferers?
In the next chapter I’d like to talk about distractions, fun, and humor. Things you could do to forget about your disease for a little while. This too can be of great value and a good motivator to keep you positive and fighting.
Here is to your health!
HD in Oregon
Tags: coping with multiple cancers, dealing with multiple cancer diagnoses, finding motivation for dealing with multiple cancers, finding strength within when coping with cancer, meditation for cancer patients, pain medication for radiation and chemo, positive thinking, Triple Whammy or How to Cope with Multiple Cancers Part IV written by HD