Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer and licensed psychologist.
As a breast cancer survivor, I know there is no more powerful word that brings us to the ground than that five letter word “cancer”. So, the playing field is leveled and each of us start from the same ground-zero.
It is important at ground-zero to spend the first few days in shock because you are in shock. In shock one generally numbs out, walks around in a daze, makes no conversational sense, and continues to repeat over and over the words, “I can’t believe I have cancer.” However, non of us can stay in that spot for more than a few days.
- It is important to mobilize personal and professional resources.
- Every doctor you see will have an opinion and confusingly a different opinion. Therefore, it is important to collect a few professional opinions about what you need to do.
- Even though it is confusing to hear so many opinions and so much data, you have a right and a responsibility to collect as much data as possible.
In therapy I often tell my new parents to collect data about their new baby, childhood development and parenting styles so they learn and communicate about how they want to raise their child. It is no different. Cancer is not your child but it is your challenge.
- You cannot walk into it blindly.
- Education is power and personal power helps us engage the medical field with our rights as a patient and our right to know.
There are plenty of options and choice points through-out your choice of treatment and your post cancer health choices. Do not let fear place you in a cage fretting about the “what-if?” You can walk outside get in your car and get hit by a bus. What –if you do? Do you stop driving or riding in a vehicle because of the intimidation of what-if?
The reality is that you are going to have to make some choice about your health care and your treatment options. Decisions that only you can make. Also, it is important to know that the general consensus in western medicine is only going to tell you what you ask. It is often, the belief that you will not ask what you don’t want to know. However, if you don’t know what to ask then you can’t ask.
Thus, you might ask:
- What am I not asking that I should know? Input from your doctor of choice will be helpful but you will have to have confidence that your doctor is acting in your best behalf with all of the evidence and information necessary to increase your odds.
Cancer treatment is a game of odds. Without any treatment of any sort, whether it be western or alternative treatment, the odds are that cancer will kill you. Yes, unexplained remissions can happen, but the odds are not in your favor. For instance, you might sit down at a slot-machine and put in twenty dollars and win sixty grand, but it is not very likely. You have more to lose here than twenty dollars.
It is important that you take the initiative to wade through tons of material that you won’t understand very much, write down your questions and go forward to get answers. However, you can collect data forever.
Once you have collected data and had at least two consults depending on the time it takes you to get an appointment then you have to make a choice.
- It is an informed choice.
- It is the best decision you can make at this time.
What exactly do I mean?
- Cancer cannot have the power to make you powerless.
- It does make you feel vulnerable, fearful, and anxious but you cannot afford to wallow in those feelings.
- You must rise to the challenge and make the beset decisions that you can possible make with the information you have.
“But what if I make the wrong decision?” In truth there are no wrong decisions. There are only decisions that you make in good faith that is the best decision that you can make at this time. Remember all of us are going to die one day. Some of us sooner than others and none of us have any control over when that will happen to us. It is our responsibility to do the best we can. That is all that is expected. So with information comes power and with power comes the freedom to act responsibly behalf. We all do the best we can. So will you!
Dr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.