A place where I can chronicle my family's journey through cancer. A place where WE can discuss our concerns. A place where WE can inspire each other. A place for hope.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The 8 Commandments

For the last week, i've been thinking about the top lessons learned from everything that has happened so far. We've come a long way, and still have yet a ways to go, but you can never forget that one small step can turn into a mile. To say that this whole experience has been devastating would be an understatement. But, in many ways, it has also been very inspiring and opened my eyes to a world of good. These are my "8 Commandments", my most important lessons-learned up until this point, so far.

1. ADVOCATE: Stand up for yourself. This is your body, your life, and your responsibility. Don’t just sit there and expect an answer from your doctor. As brilliant as they are, our doctors do not know everything. New publications and studies are being published everyday. It is difficult for doctors to juggle patients, conduct research, and be on top of all the newest findings at the same time. Seek information and be active in your recovery. Question your doctor if your instincts tell you to do so. In general, if you have to go to the doctor more than once for the same reason, something might be up. In the end, this is your body and no one else’s. It is YOUR responsibility, and ultimately, you who will pay the consequences if you don’t do something about it. Here is a good example: Recently, there has been some discussion about the administration of Aredia and other biphosphonates on the ACOR ListServ. You should be receiving these medications in a minimum of 3-4 hours (the longer the better), and yet some nurses will only do so in a maximum of 2 hours?! That is NOT ok! As a patient or a caregiver, DEMAND more time. Stand up for yourself, there are no excuses.

2. CONTROL: In a time where you seem to lose your footing, gain control of your situation. Educate yourself. Seek information about your situation and how you can deal with it. Learn from other people's mistakes and follow in the path of their successes. There is nothing worse than to be unaware and uninformed about your disease. Utilize the resources that the world has to offer. Forums (ACOR LISTSERV!!!), Blogs, etc.

3. RESPECT: Respect your body, listen to your body. If you're tired, rest. If you're sad, cry. If you're happy, rejoice. Don't bottle up your emotions. And break it down to the basics: Eat healthy, exercise, drink water, and laugh. Respect your body, mind, and soul. Respect yourself.

4. BREATHE: Try to take yourself out of your situation and calm yourself. It might not be as bad as you think. Emotions can cloud judgement and cause you to make irrational decisions and receive unnecessary stress. This was a big lesson for me when we were first diagnosed. Just take a second and calm yourself. Don’t just inhale and exhale, breathe.

5. REJOICE: Despite the situation you may find yourself in, there is still much to celebrate and be thankful for in life. Be thankful for a beautiful day. Be thankful for a good night's rest. Be thankful for a good laugh and the fact that you had the opportunity to experience it. Be thankful for your loved ones. Be thankful for those moments of little or no pain. These are all things we can truly be grateful for. It's easier to remember that the world isn't always as bad as it may seem if you remind yourself of the little blessings and miracles that happen everyday. It's not easy... But it can help you move mountains if you let it.

6. SUPPORT: Surround and immerse yourself with those who will help lift you up. Whether this includes a random stranger or a close friend is up to you. Hey, why not both?! Don’t feel guilty if you need to ask for help. This is your life, and nothing (NOTHING) is more important than that. A word of advice, try seeking support from those outside of your immediate family. Sometimes, the stress of the situation is just…a lot. Keeping all that emotion balled up within your family can lead to a lot of bickering, additional stress, etc and end up doing more harm than good. Cast those emotions out into the world!

7. MOTIVATE/INSPIRE: Find ways to pick yourself up by discovering newfound ways to motivate and inspire yourself. Lets face it, the road to recovery for a cancer patient has a LOT of highs and lows. There are days where you will be so filled with joy you literally don’t know what to do, and others filled with disappointment. Learn how to pick yourself up and get back on that horse! The success stories of other patients is immensely motivational and inspirational.

8. CHOICE: In the end, you are given a choice. You can either choose to go around feeling sorry for yourself or you can choose to live your life, despite its setbacks, and fight this beast off with everything that you, your family, your friends, and supporters got (remember, you are never alone!). The choice is yours.

Some of this stuff might seem a little repetitive and redundant. But to me, it shows just how important these things are to me. I might give the impression of some happy-go-lucky perk; I can assure you, I am not. I have my dark days and my low-points. Lots of them. But these are things that I try to work towards, not grasp immediately. They are things that keep me honest with myself and pull me out of the fire.

If there are any other "lessons" that you have learned, I would love to add them to this list! Together, we can all help each other out and push ourselves forward! Shoot me an e-mail: thecancerdiaries@live.com with your information and i'll make sure to add it to the list!

Until then, best of wishes to all of you


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