How Will You Live After a Cancer Diagnosis

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

You have been diagnosed with cancer and a treatment pathway has been outlined for you. At this point, you may think that everything has already been decided for you and that what happens next is out of your hands. If this is what feels best for you, then you should go for it. However, if you are a bit less accepting of everything like me, you might have a few things that you want to question and/or request along the way.

The decisions and choices will always be your own and whatever you choose is not right or wrong but rather it should always be the very best for you and how you want to live this life.Barbara Jacoby

After both of my surgeries, and in particular the double mastectomy, my surgeon wanted me to stay in the hospital. Personally, it was the last thing that I wanted. Since my cosmetic surgeon was going to follow the cancer surgeon in the operating room to begin the first step of reconstruction, I spoke with him and told him that my preference would really be to go home after the surgeries were done and enjoy the privacy and comfort of my own home. And since he took my personal comfort into consideration as being of great importance to me, he agreed to it since he was not that far away from me should any problems or emergencies arise. Now for others, I know that the last thing that they wanted was to go home. The idea of someone taking care of them for a couple of days and not having to deal with the noise of children while trying to rest and recover on their own time schedule was extremely appealing. And since this care and attention in the hospital was of vital importance to them, this would definitely be the best way to follow up a surgery for them.

This type of decision-making is important in many ways. To be able to make choices in a situation where you may feel like you have lost yourself to cancer gives you a feeling of some sort of control however small it may be. In addition, to be able to set the stage for your recovery by choosing whether the hospital or your home is mentally better for you allows for the healing to begin in the way that is most comfortable for you and this is just one of the many options that you have when determining how you will proceed after your treatment has begun.

And this is only the beginning. Individual decisions and choices are entirely dependent upon the mindset of each person. For some, they prefer to be told exactly what they should do for each step of the way. When they should do follow ups, when they can exercise, when they can return to work or once again participate in any activities, etc. is what they need in order to feel comfortable that they don’t have to be responsible for any of their outcomes. After all, their medical team members know what is best based upon all of the patients who they have treated in the past so they have the knowledge and expertise to guide others down this path.

For others, general guidelines are the best where they then have the option to choose what works for them based upon such things as their individual pain levels, the type of home in which they are recovering, the daily duties that they must perform and even the type of work that they perform and how these activities fit into their recovery. For example, a person recovering from breast cancer who works at a desk all day may opt to return to work long before a person who has to be on her feet all day and performs work that requires a wide range of arm movements. But here again, the choices really do depend upon the individual, not only on a physical basis but also on a mental plane.

You also have a choice regarding how you think about your cancer journey. For some, they want to plow on through as quickly as possible and return to “normal” as soon as possible. They do not wish to talk about or deal with this “hiccup” in their life on a daily basis but prefer to focus on how they might turn the cancer lemons into lemonade and/or just to leave this matter in the dust so they can get back to doing and being whatever they choose. For others, the mental effects of this disease may well haunt them for the rest of their lives as they can’t help but focus on the cancer almost every minute of every day for what seems like forever.

Regardless of how you choose to act or react, you always have choices and no matter what you choose, it should always be after having considered everything following discussions with your doctors. Your approach to cancer treatments and the life that follows will always come down to how you choose to look at your life and those problems, situations and medical issues that may cross your path. You can choose to face them head on and find ways to deal with what you are facing so that you can create the best life possible for yourself or you can choose to allow the negative issues that you face to control your life and your thinking and your actions. The decisions and choices will always be your own and whatever you choose is not right or wrong but rather it should always be the very best for you and how you want to live this life.