No Hill For a Climber, Emotions, Fears, and Coping

Breast Cancer Prayer

Lord, I have just received the diagnosis of breast cancer.

Still my anxious heart as I seek to understand why.

Teach me to transform this suffering into growth.

My great fear of tomorrow into faith of your presence.

My tears into understanding.

My discouragement into courage.

My anger into forgiveness.

My bitterness into acceptance.

My experience with cancer into my testimony.

My crisis into a platform on which I can learn to help others.

God grant that one day I can embrace this time as my friend, and not as my enemy.

Judy C Kneece, RN, OCN

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just wave a magic wand and make all disease and ailments just disappear into a puff of smoke?

Abracadabra! Cancer be gone!

I have seen faith healers on television cure the most infirm among us with a simple smack to the forehead while shouting out to Jesus for healing transformation. Works every damn time, I swear! I saw it on television!

Somehow I have not found a way to convince Loraine that all she needs to do to be rid of the breast cancer and all the worry and fear that goes with it would be a little faith that I could tap her on the head faster than she can say ouch while I shout praises to the Lord to cure her. I done seen some stuff on those rattle snake churches in the south too that might help…

Awe never mind with the goofiness. Although we do need to remember to enjoy life during our journey down this difficult and twisted path we have involuntarily embarked down.

Oh God, in my feeble attempt at trying to bring a little levity to this topic, I just realized it might appear I was not taking the Breast Cancer prayer seriously. To the contrary, I believe with all my heart in the power of prayer, and that my Lord and Savior hears them all even if I am somewhat crude in my words. Thankfully, I know I am saved and forgiven.

So, we received the breast cancer diagnosis on Friday. I have a pretty good grasp of where we stand for now. It helps that I wrote about it in great detail in my last No Hill For a Climber article. That being said, I am still living with a great deal of fear for my sweet Loraine, and of course she is also fearful at this time. I’m not sure there will be a true day of rest until we have beat this demon breast cancer. This diagnosis has had us on an emotional roller coaster to say the least. For Loraine, it is not helpful that for about the last ten years, she has been a care taker for so many terminal cancer patients in their homes. She has seen pretty much nothing but worse case scenarios. People who have become well do not require care takers in their homes. Kind of like bad news will travel around the world before good news makes it off the porch, you never seem to hear about all the success stories. Most of what we see and hear about are the tragedies. For some odd reason, despite the fact she has survived two other cancers in the 33 plus years we have been married, this one seems different and scarier than the others. I do not know why, but we are both more worried and fearful than we have been with the last two bouts.

It is only human that we have fearful emotions when faced with a cancer diagnosis. You cannot escape the fear of the suffering that can and does come with cancer, the humiliation that so many suffer from losing their hair to chemotherapy, the financial ruin that can drive a family to bankruptcy. There is a sadness that comes from thinking about how this is going to affect our children and grandchildren. I could probably write a full novel right now regarding the emotions that we are experiencing right now. Last night, neither Loraine or myself slept much. We laid in bed, and snuggled close, talking about how this is likely to impact us and our family. We began to talk about her fears, and mine too. Neither of us said too much about our fears, we didn’t need to. After over thirty three, almost thirty four years of marriage, we do not need to speak words in order to communicate how we feel. We just know, we can feel and sense it in each other. Just holding each other close and tight can say more than can be said in a novel’s worth of words.

I want to share a message from Saint Luke’s Cancer Institute to family members of cancer patients: The one you love has received the diagnosis of cancer. Because you love the patient, you need to understand how you can best help during this experience. Listed below are support components that other patients have said were essential to their recovery.

Support Tips:

  • Assure the patient that you will be there to support them when needed-that cancer will not change you relationship with them. The greatest fear is being left alone to suffer or feeling that they are a burden to the family unit because of their illness.
  • Allow the patient to verbalize fears, concerns, and thoughts without critical or judgmental input from you. A person who cannot communicate openly with family members may not master the emotions the illness creates, and this can impede recovery. Feelings may change as time passes. Please be patient and encourage the patient to share freely.
  • Accept tears as a necessary part of healing. Tears are a common reaction to loss of health status, such as a diagnosis of cancer. A person who does not cry when suffering great change in health is a person who is probably not in touch with the reality of loss. Tears are not a sign of weakness, but a sign that healing is taking place Do not fear that the patient will be upset if they see your tears; instead, seeing your tears gives them permission to openly cry with you. This is often the time that emotional healing begins in a family. Tears serve as a salve to the soul, for both the patient and the family members.
  • Allow the patient time to be alone to sort through the loss and personal feelings. Sometimes family members wrongly believe that the patient must be talking to or surrounded by family members after the diagnosis; but often the person wants and needs time alone to silently think about what is occurring. Do not think that this is a sign the patient is shutting you out Instead, it is a sign that they are thinking through their problems. Some people need more privacy than others. Allow them this silence and offer assurance that you are there to talk openly if and when needed.
  • Understand that the patient cannot talk openly to everyone about their feelings. Often patients will choose only one, or a few, family members or friends for open communication because it may be uncomfortable to talk with everyone about their situation. Do not insist that the patient keep retelling the “illness” story or sharing their feelings. As long as the patient is talking to one or more persons openly they will do well.
  • Recognize that the most stressful and damaging event that can slow the healing process is family conflict. Family stress can alter the patients immune system function, thus blocking the key factor to recovery. If the immune system is compromised it cannot perform properly; therefore, healing cannot take place. Even the most medically advanced cancer treatments cannot work if the patient is under constant stress at home. Attempt to minimize any conflicts in their environment. It is essential that the patient is in an atmosphere where they feel safe and removed from conflict. Do your part to avoid conflict with the patient while not secluding them from normal family life.
  • Support the patient in the way they need and want help. Do not assume you know what the patient needs; ask. Some patients feel stripped of their roles and feel useless when other family members suggest that they are unable to fulfill previous family responsibilities. The patient needs to feel that they are still a vital an essential pat of the family. Do not take away roles or responsibilities unless the patient is too weak or requests relief from the routine family duties.
  • After a cancer diagnosis, there is much to be learned and many discussions to be made about the diagnosis and treatment, If the patient agrees, it may be helpful for a family member or friend to gather accurate, useful information through which the patient can make decisions to best meet needs. It is also beneficial for the family member or friends to accompany the patient to appointments where these options will be discussed to help facilitate and verify the decision making process.
  • Offer to go with the patient to a support group to learn more about illness and to find ways to assist them to effectively cope.

Remember:

  1. This is the same person that you knew before the diagnosis. The patient would like as little change as possible.
  2. Let the patient talk openly and freely when needed.
  3. Do not feel that tears are a weakness.
  4. Allow the patient to maintain former roles in the family as much as possible.
  5. Eliminate as much stress as possible from the environment.
  6. Help the patient learn as much as possible about the disease.

I hope that by documenting this journey in it’s entirety I am able to help others who may one day face this, or maybe those who are currently dealing with breast cancer. For those who want to follow this story as it unfolds, I created a website menu tab specifically for this in order that you will not have to sort through other articles to stay current.

God bless and thank you for reading, and for the tremendous outpouring of love and support we have received in the last couple days. Comments and questions are most welcome and will be answered. Feel free to subscribe to my website and receive all of our nutrition, health and fitness articles along with all the healthy recipes we post. There will never be a charge to access our articles or forum which we hope will soon become more active. This website will always be free to the public. This is my labor of love, with the assistance of my lovely co-author Brenda Sue. We do this for you with no expectations of ever receiving anything in return.

David

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2 thoughts on “No Hill For a Climber, Emotions, Fears, and Coping

  1. Once again my friend you have penned a great quality work of wisdom through the helping of others.

    I send my request for the best doctors and speedy recovery during this time of distress for you and your family.

    I cannot Express more my gratitude in you sharing your thoughts, feelings and love during Lorraine’s journey in this chapter of
    Life.
    May peace fill her spirit

    God is in charge and has a plan

    Love forever
    Jimi

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