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Triple Whammy or How to Cope with Multiple Cancers Part IV – I think I can – by HD

Post Published: 22 August 2010
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Category: Guest Bloggers, Managing Multiple Cancers
This post currently has 13 responses. Leave a comment

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

Triple Whammy or How to Cope With Multiple Cancers, Part IPart II Riding the DragonPart III, Dearly Beloved

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13 Responses to “Triple Whammy or How to Cope with Multiple Cancers Part IV – I think I can – by HD”

  1. Donna says:

    Thanks HD for another brilliant piece.

    I believe that happy attracts healthy. I understand that it is easier said than done though.

    My son was 5 and he was what kept me going. He deserved no less. I derived all my strength from him and for him. I was determined to stay around to be his mom.

    Don’t get me wrong, I had pity parties for myself here and there but I generally kept that to myself. Looking back that was a mistake. I think it is important to share and get it out. Very cathartic.

    Dear Thyyroid did not exist during my fight so if someone is reading this then I think they are already in a better place.

    Look forward to your next piece. Thanks for all that you do for DT.

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this, HD. You went through SO much in a short amount of time–physically, emotionally, mentally. I appreciate you sharing your story. We need to hear stories like yours–yes, you were dealing with some hard issues, but you found a way to deal with them.

    Can’t wait to read the next chapter of your story!

    xoxo,
    Joanna

  3. Monica says:

    HD,

    You have been through a lot and possess the WOW factor -Words of Wisdom.

    I can’t imagine going through what you have gone through and still have an outrageous dry wit and sense of humor running through your veins.

    Thanks for sharing how you coped with the triple whammy, and if I ever find myself swimming in thyshoes, you are the first person I am contacting.

    ☮ ♥

  4. HDinOregon says:

    Donna, Joanna, Monica,

    I’m glad you like this weeks segment. – Yes, it was a rather rough time, and I’m really glad it is now 3 years behind me. Yeah!!

    HD

    • Donna says:

      Yeah is right! I have a personal question if you don’t mind. Do you think tour experience has changed you in respect to being so in tune to woman or did you always possess that quality? It is rare to find men that get it like you do.

      • Donna says:

        your experience but it is like a tour of duty if you think about it, lol. I’m hitting my four year mark soon.

        • HDinOregon says:

          Donna,

          Tour of duty is an interesting analogy, – but with cancers you
          don’t have a contract, and you can be recalled to “active” duty any time even after an honorable discharge from hospital 😉

          HD

          HD

      • HDinOregon says:

        Oh dear, Donna, I am not so sure I’m really that “in tune” with women. — Maybe it is because I am a foreigner and didn’t grow up in the US. Those crazy Europeans sometimes have a slightly different mode of operation and viewpoint.

        On the other hand, of course, my cancer experience has changed me. Changed me quite a bit actually, but I’m not sure if it was visa a-vie the female gender. Certainly my outlook on life had changed, I’m much more appreciative of every day.

        But – thank you for the question, I’ll take that question as a compliment.

        {{{ Hugs }}}
        HD

  5. AnnaMKyle says:

    Thank you HD. Just THANK YOU!
    Anna

  6. HDinOregon says:

    Katie,

    Thanks for the great Pan Am poster. Really dig it!!

    Definitely need to get me one of them pork-pie-hats, and a cool thy-red jacket. Will be the new thy-style for all the gents here on DT.

    Motto for a Thycan survivors:
    “You have bled, you’ll wear red!”
    🙂

    Pan Am was the airline of my very first flight from Berlin to Cologne, Germany. Many years back.

    HD

  7. Melissa Travis says:

    Lovely post HD. It is hard – to keep yourself up– and yes- support can only do so much . In the end, we DO have to be our own hero. I’m a FAN of visualization. I’m totally on board here! Well done. Well thought out. Big stuff.

    xx
    Melissa

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