If you or one you love has just gotten a cancer diagnosis, take a deep breath, let it out, read on...
You can get through this. Yes cancer is scary as hell but it is not what it used to be. Treatment options have progressed exponentially in just the last 10 years and new / more effective options are coming online each day. I and many others are living proof of that.
Build a Success Team. Your #1 goal when you get a diagnosis is to find the doctors / centers / treatments specialized for you situation - this specialization critical to a successful outcome.
Ask for Help. Enlist the help of a family doctor, a medical researcher, friends, family and others who may know somebody. Go public and put it on Facebook - do whatever you need to do to find and enlist the very best specialists and once found - listen to them.
Optimize Your Self Care - turn your attention to something you have a huge amount of control and effect over - your own self care. Optimizing your self care should be your sole focus once your medical team is in place. What you do here may sound squishy but the self care effect on your outcome really matters so dive in.
Diet - use this website to dramatically improve your diet and your health. This is not the time for "comfort food". Choose olive oil over ice cream, kale over cookies and the chances of cycling through southern France when you're 90 dramatically increase. All the food guidelines on this site apply to cancer so get cooking.
Stress - feeling stressed sets off a cascade of hormones that are not helpful. Replace traffic, tension and watching the news with massage, meditation and journalling - reducing stress has been shown to improve outcomes.
Journalling - three pages each day, longhand, on a legal pad of paper. Get those highly negative toxic thoughts and feelings out of your body and expressed onto paper. Studies show that it's highly effective, but only if written longhand on paper vs keyboarding / using a computer.
Counseling - over-reacting, under-reacting, stuck in in denial, overwhelmed with fear, grief, anger - cancer is a major emotional challenge so get help. There are therapists who specialise in helping people who have received a cancer diagnosis. Get one, now. Join a group as well.
Connection - staying connected to those who love and support you is huge. Now is not the time to indulge negative or toxic personalities. Be selfish and selective about who you interact with. And make sure to express how much their love and support means to you during this trying time.
PT - had or going to have surgery? You need PT. Get a script from your surgeon and go. Most all surgery entails some complications. PT pros can get you back on your feet again literally and figuratively. I never left a PT appointment without feeling more optimistic, hopeful and capable than when I came in the door.
Exercise - it reduces stress, helps physically too. Keep it moderate, do what you can but... move, get outside in nature, breathe in fresh air, hear the birds, sweat a little, take in a sunrise. Exercise removes stress byproducts and tells your body "we have work to do so let's get healthy."
Acupuncture - Managing side effects of drugs and various treatments is critical, it's often the difference between staying on a life saving regimen or washing out of the program. Acupuncture has shown clinical results, not for curing cancer but really helping deal with those nasty side effects. If possible find a practitioner who is Chinese, trained in China, speaks English as a second language etc.
Supplements - from Chinese herbs like reishi mushroom and ginseng to vitamin D and curcumin supplements might be worth a try. They are not cheap, some are more effective than others and none compare with an awesome diet of wholesome real food but, if you have the cash and are employing an "all of the above" strategy. See my "Supplements" blog post.
Affirmations - paint a positive picture with words - how awesome life will be once you are healthy again. Write it all in the present tense, as if it has already happened. Load it with feeling and positive imagery so you can see and feel it. Google affirmations. This is huge.
Purpose - cancer can brings gifts along with all the terror. For many it reveals a mission, a purpose, a reason for getting well and staying in the game. Book after book, all the studies show that having a strong sense of purpose Incorporate this into your affirmations.
Spirituality - whatever your faith or spiritual leanings studies show spiritual grounding can help you get through this. Dive into book on Buddhism, talk with your church pastor, whatever resonates. The peace and calm that flow from a heartfelt spiritual framework is profound.
Stay Focussed - you will not invent a cancer cure in your spare time - turn that over to the best doctors you can find. Instead, focus on what you control or can effect - that's where you have the most sway over your outcome. Your medical team is working overtime to save you - help them by taking awesome care of yourself.