Were You One Of A Stubborn Cancer Patients?

cancer voice in asia
Cancer patients need someone to support and encourage them not someone to argue with no matter how stubborn they are. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Before you will give up taking care of your loved one or continue connecting with your friend that has cancer. Think about this first. And I will try to make this as concise as I could so that we can all understand why it is difficult to figure out the changeable mood of someone has cancer.

Your loved one or friend that has cancer may not be pleasant to be around anymore right after the diagnosis, recurrence cancer or metastasis. They can have little patience and tolerance for anything or to anyone. They seem to be angry with everyone. You may think they are rude and you may seem they’re not like the same person anymore. Of course, no one will like this. You can’t deal with this kind of attitude every day.

But, please remember…

Cancer is isolating.

And the people with cancer feel lonely most of the time. Especially those who could not accept yet their diagnosis. Being around to someone who has cancer is already a great comfort during their cancer journey.

Some people who give up their loved one that has cancer find it difficult to be a friend to them. Sad that cancer changes everything, including relationships and attitude of a cancer patient. Though they want to help all throughout the journey with cancer they always don’t know what to do. No matter how hard for the patient and the carer try to beat this deadly disease, taking all the medications, and following doctor’s advice – it’s sad how aggressive some cancer is that relationships are affected.

Some cancer patients become more stubborn throughout their journey. And being positive is almost not that valuable anymore. Staying positive during the cancer battle is a lot of pressure. I know how hard it feels. As a cancer survivor, diagnosed with Sarcoma 2 years ago, I just let my emotion flows.

When you feel being so positive, live it out, but if you’re not, let your tears flow or whatever you think can make you feel good.

Because having cancer is a feeling like a hell every day that makes someone scared to death coping pain, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Why not be patient for the cancer patient’s changeable mood and attitude? When they need to be alone, respect it. The least that we can do is to understand them and being around with them no matter how difficult the cancer treatment process is.

A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Expect everything will change including the mood and emotions. We always hope that each cancer patient that is diagnosed with cancer will finally reach the stage of being cured and free from the physical pain that cancer brings.

I personally thank all understanding and persistent friends and family members who stayed despite difficulty what cancer can bring to both patients and carers. You are really the most honored people across the globe. The fight of each cancer patient is also the fight of someone who has cancer.

Can you share why no matter what your loved ones and doctor tells you what you supposed to do, you are still stubborn?

Leave your comment below.

What Can Pets Actually Teach To Someone Has Cancer

cancer voice in asia https://thecancervoice.net/
Your pet has some mysterious capacity to teach you. Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash.

Pets can’t magically cure diseases, but the effect they have on us is tremendous.

From the past blog that I wrote, I uncovered some reasons why “Pets Are Better Company When You’re Sick,” because, with your four-legged friends, you can always get an emotional support that sometimes human friends couldn’t, especially when you are sick!

When being so attached to someone or something means disappointment and pain, your pet makes an exemption. Being strongly attached to your pet makes an enormous benefit especially for your health and also teaches you about living especially when you feel alone.

Pets have some mysterious capacity to teach us, humans, some things much better than any human being can.

Going through cancer cause you into an emotional roller coaster, with many ups and downs. Having cancer makes anyone very emotional, because of the uncertainty cancer has brought, it makes you feel angry, afraid, anxious or even irritable.

Even you are horribly sick because of cancer, and problems keep arising every day, there is always an ideal solution. If only you focus on looking for answers despite the pain you feel, instead of dwelling to problems that have not given you yet an absolute answer.

The fact that, allowing your pet or considering getting a pet to become a part of your personal and emotional development, there are a number of things that they can teach you.

Pets teach us the what actually unlimited love is.
They simply love you no matter how often you leave them if you have to go to a doctor’s appointment, work or traveling.

They never bear grudge whether you accidentally step on their tails or make an accident which can hurt them.

They just simply love you without any limitation or condition regardless of the state of your health.

cancer voice in asia
Pets teach us responsibility.

Pets teach us to carry out tasks.
Personally, although I grew up in an environment that can give me an opportunity to take care of a pet, however, I don’t because it was not my interest although my late father brought us different kinds of pets at home.

As getting more adult and mature, I learn how to be a household with pets. Though I could not perfectly carry out the responsibility of how to properly care for the pets I have at home. One thing that the pets at home teach me, is how to be sensible than ever.

Cancer patients often have to stay at home as long as they needed and that makes them feel very isolated and lonely. However, there is something that you can do to make the best of your time at home. There are times that cancer treatments will simply defeat you and the medicines will just make you sleep. Some other days maybe you’ll have more energy, but pets are always there with you and patiently waiting until you win this battle of cancer. Giving you company at whatever time and in whatever way you feel every day.

It also keeps your time not boring by giving you a simple task every day. They don’t ask for more, only to be fed and to be pet.

Pets teach us empathy
Empathy is good for us. The sad fact is, while some human beings judge others, hate, or discriminate, but not your pets. Your pet doesn’t even care about your money or you’re sick. Pets can actually sense you whenever you’re upset or stressed. There are some special cases that pets (especially dogs can detect cancer).

When you have a pet, you feel less burdened (especially if it is a cat). You can choose to keep a cat especially when you are sick because cats require less care than a dog.

In general, your pet, whether it could be a cat or a dog, these animals have the ability to show you how to share and understand another’s perspective and feelings – to think about prior to taking drastic actions. Sharing a deep and valuable bond with your pet by respecting them and being kind to them, your pets will do the same. Taking notice of your pets need will also do the same without question especially during the time when you are undergoing a cancer treatment.

What are your thoughts about your own experiences with your pets especially when you have to stay home and you’re sick? Have they taught you a lesson?

Leave your comment below.

What Is PTSD And How Can A Cancer Survivor Survive From This?

cancer voice in asia
A hand screaming for help. Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

Hello dear readers!

So this time, I would like to discuss about this topic (if you are keen on “talking it over” after you read this article) about PTSD. But before I will continue, I want to be clear to everyone that this topic is about psychiatry/neurology and I don’t have any medical background to put into words this point at issue but I will share to you an experience which is very common to every cancer survivor and try to let you understand in a language that we all could make sense of.

Some experts in this field wanted to accentuate that the word “disorder” in Post-traumatic stress should actually not to be referred to as a disorder. In fact, from a neurological standpoint, it is a reordering of the brain’s neural networks and pathways and sensory pathways in order to survive a dangerous situation.

Okay, so I just mentioned PTSD. What is that?

It is not just a simple everyday stress.

By definition, PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) is a mental health problem that some people developed after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, sexual assault, or even cancer.

PTSD is real for most cancer survivors. Dealing with anxiety after surviving cancer battle is actually another battle that a survivor needs to survive once more.

And for most cancer survivors who experience anxiety after the successful treatment always believe that they are really experiencing PTSD as it has always been identified since then. And the label “PTSD” seems like a “domino effect” that the latter cancer survivors believe that they are too experiencing the same.

Whether we mark this experience as PTSD or not, how sad to realize that a cancer survivor has almost no rest from surviving, but it’s true, it’s real. Most of us have to deal with the anxiety what cancer has brought to us.

Even myself, I thought that after my radiation therapy treatment, I will be okay and finally free from fighting about my life and how to stay alive. But the fact is, I continue to fight after my treatment. A fight from the feeling that I’m about to die or I’m gonna lose my mind, but actually I’m not.

After my radiation therapy treatment sessions, I have to take care of my completely burned skin every day, and with that, I feel like I have to hide from everyone because I didn’t like the fact to be asked about my wound and illness every time I meet a friend.

Well, it actually happened. I hide from everyone and I thought of running away and hiding from people who I used to know can help me. But the results are opposite. These are the signs I observed during the 5 months I was very anxious:

  • Nightmares & flashbacks
    What did I do?
    All the negative events happened to me before I had cancer keep coming back as if it always haunts me each day.

  • Avoiding places, events, people, or things that bring back any memories from the past
    What did I do?
    I preferred to stay in the corner in the room after work and avoided all messages from friends who are near me.

  • Strong feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or shame
    What did I do?
    I sent all negative and toxic messages to myself that makes my self gradually deteriorating especially my self-esteem.

  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
    What did I do?
    I tried to manage to sleep early but I just couldn’t.

  • Continuous feelings of fear, irritability or anger
    What did I do?
    I easily got angry and irritable to few persons who are close to me and in return, they never understand me. Instead of letting them know the exact feeling I feel inside I rant and unfortunately, the result is, one of the people close to me deliberately cut our connection.

  • Loss of interest in activities (or relationships) that used to be enjoyable
    What did I do?
    I lost interest to socialize even to go back hosting an English Club event which I used to do it for more than a year already.

  • Unwanted thoughts
    What did I do?
    Kept thinking of negative thoughts.

  • Difficulty feeling emotions
    What did I do?
    I thought I could keep up with being positive at that moment, but that was difficult in that bleak, unguarded moment.

Funny thing is, after listing down the signs of PTSD, which I got from Cancer.net, I almost got all the signs & symptoms except self-destructive behavior, such as drug or alcohol abuse.

Therefore I can say that having these signs or one of these signs should not be taken for granted and should be given attention as soon as possible before this anxiety disorder will turn into deeper depression or the worst clinical depression.

How to know who to help, who needs help?

Whether that person is your friend, neighbor, colleague or a family member, by simply looking at them without questioning what he/she has gone through with his/her life, you cannot tell that they experience some traumatic event at some point of their life. You will never know that he/she needs help until such then, you will see that precious loved one already drowning in a very deep ocean of depression.

The sad thing is, you cannot see it, hear it or feel it.

The worst thing is they’re not going to talk about it – only them can see the dark wallowing shadow of distress, hear the echoes of anxiety and feel the torturing flashbacks of a life-threatening event that happened in their life, such as cancer.

However, within those 5 months of detaching myself from other people, isolating myself from my loved ones and anxiety grows more each day, I notice that my brain and my body are gradually exhausted.

But I thought I have to do something.

In the middle of my fight against anxiety, I could probably help myself by doing something that helps my body and mind restore to an energetic and a positive person.

I realize that I cannot control whatever circumstances that may show up in my life even after my treatment from cancer but I can always control how I react to it.

I honestly and sensibly decide if I wanted to stay anxious or be drowned in the abyss of anxiety. These negative emotions that I felt after my treatment and those negative emotions I got from other people who heedlessly know that they did will never let me go unless I am willing to let this toxics go.

Letting it go was not easy but it is rewarding at the same time when you finally get back in a condition where you have inner peace, calm, and untriggered.

I start working on my physical body first. I did whatever my body pleasures to have to, like massage and as well as guided imagery (such as prayer or meditation). It was during that time also, my first time I did meditation because I want to look for solutions myself without asking anyone yet. And with meditation, what I (or anyone) could benefit is to reset our breathing back to normal. And by doing this regularly, it will actually increase our ability to focus, decreased mind wandering, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased emotional reactivity, along with many others.

I don’t know what works for you, but my only clear motive is to know where are you now after you finally finish your cancer treatment. It may not easy to say this, but I will be glad if you are now in the full range of positive emotions with your loved ones. But if not, do what’s the best for your body, listen to your body and feel what it sends to your brain.

Do it now, not later.

Are keen on talking this topic over? Just leave your comments below.

Here’s Why Pets Are Better Company When You’re Sick

cancer voice in asia
For dogs and cats, every day is a great day to be happy. Photo by Anusha Barwa on Unsplash

It really sucks to be sick. How much more having an illness like cancer? It does suck more, cancer really sucks.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a favorite pet. That was more than 20 years ago when I was in primary school. My sister and I had a favorite dog where she thinks she is also our sister, not only a friend. Whenever my sister and I were having a childhood fight, our dog, Berga was always there to join us instead of stopping us from fighting.

I grew up living in a house with different kinds of animals from primary school until I finish college. Seriously, different kinds of animals, name it! Not just a dog or dogs. We have mice, rabbit, hamster, birds, chicken (both hen & rooster, giant –jolo & dwarf one – bantam) guinea pig, goldfish, and even snakes! This is all because of my late father who is the number one animal lover I’ve known in my entire life. I actually could not understand why he isn’t tired of keeping and taking care of these animals.

Honestly, throughout my being, before and after cancer, I don’t fully apprehend why my father keeps many animals throughout his life, even before he passed away. Until then, in one right set of circumstances, when my friend’s cat happened to stay with me.

When I had cancer 2 years ago, I had never thought of having a pet. All I thought was, how to survive this disease, will I still be alive after this cancer diagnosis? Can I still do the goals that I must achieve?

cancer
Sushi & Yuki – mother & son.

Until then, I had come to live with these sleek, tomcat, Sushi and Yuki. Living with four-legged amigos will definitely make you feel better and happy, not only when you’re sick. Because pets teach us that every day is a great day to be happy.

Dogs and cats never hold on to what happened yesterday, last week or last year, unlike us, humans. They are always calm in whatever circumstances happen every second.

cancer voice in asia
Cherry – the sweetest poodle.

Dogs are always glad to see you. With them, you’ll never be alone as they really inclined to bond with a person. Dogs know when you’re sick and will stick with you until you feel better. They are always extra affectionate to make you feel that you will be alright. Maybe more dog cuddle, laying in bed with you, or just simply hang out by your side while you lie on the couch and stares at you with a tongue out. They are always trying to comfort you more and let you know that they are there for you.

More so, let me give you more reasons why pets are much better company when you’re sick or alone:

  • They can find fun in messiness.
    Life’s messy! Stay happy!Having a pet, you can’t really expect them to care about where the food and water go when they’re already enjoying their meal. They make a mess, a lot of mess and they find fun in messiness.

    Let’s admit it, no matter how often times we attempt to be a perfect human, there are times that we inevitably make a mess. In fact, we are all, after all, just trying to make it through the day.

    For cancer patients and survivors who are living in pain and anxiety, little things that they do or happened to them are very important as long as it can make them smile.

Having a cancer is a real big mess.

A messy place or messy tomorrows are unsurprisingly part of the life of a cancer patient or survivor and being happy for most of them seems an impossible task.

Pets have a very important role to keep them happy and can possibly make a progress for the healing journey from cancer. Where pets have the ability to help strengthen the emotion of cancer patients and survivors and develop positive talking to themselves for a hope even for an uncertain future.

When you have cancer, living each day to the fullest means making plans for the future and staying involved in the duties and pleasures of daily life does make sense for everyone, sick or well.

  • They are positive beings.
    Giving food to your dog or cat is the easiest way to make them happy. You can easily recognize that they are happy by lolling their tongues, wagging tails and showing their cheerful spirits.
  • They occupy our free and boring time.
    A simple walk in the park with our pet, cleaning their corner, or feeding them can help us be more active. And that means you burn calories, getting your heart rate up and scoring the big mood and energy boosts provided by quick bursts of exercises.Most of the time, when someone is sick because of cancer, they usually have to stay at home the whole day every day while the rest of the family have to go to work or school. Being alone most of the time adds the anxiety and worries of every cancer patient and survivor. Whilst, having a pet that can follow you around during the treatment and even after you are well, boost the bliss in a cancer patient or survivor’s lives.
  • They help us develop empathy.
    Having a pet at home become more caring and compassionate. Taking care of dogs or cats prompts us all humans and animals have similar needs such as being social, we all need a company to spend time with; a food lover, we all love food, who doesn’t?

Cancer patients and survivors need empathy as much as the rest do.

This is a serious illness that each patient or survivor need to be understood and be able to share feelings with another not just a stroll in a park. Sometimes we end up avoiding the person who needs us the most, but pets, they need not worry what to do or say to someone who is sick. Their presence is more than enough to show empathy that could improve the satisfaction of care of a cancer patient or survivor and even give them a motivation to continue to their treatment plans in their cancer journey.

  • They keep us healthy.
    This is not just my own stance, according to The American Heart Association, having a pet reduces cardiovascular disease risk factor, such as lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and a lower likelihood of obesity.That must be one of the reasons why my father never gets tired of taking care of animals especially dogs.

    What’s more, a caring pet (especially dogs) can help a cancer patient or survivor to cope up with stress, depression, and anxiety. Simply playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax. Their friendship can offer comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence for cancer patient or survivor that’s anxious about what will be happening to its life.

Dogs (or even cats) live in the moment.

They don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow – they can help you become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present.

cancer voice in asia
A dog doing yoga. Dogs & cats live in the moment.

 

Do you have any thoughts to share about your cancer journey with your pet? Leave a comment below!

A Smile Costs Nothing But Gives Much

cancer voice in asiaSmiling wooden figure. Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

You’ve got cancer! Smile!

Are you kidding me? Smile?

When my doctor told me I had cancer, nothing was the same anymore. Having cancer was like a point of no return. No trace of a smile was found on my face. Only fears and uncertainties filled my whole being.

If you had asked me before I was diagnosed with cancer, my heart was pounding out of my chest. I can’t wait to know if the bump that stayed on my upper right thigh was a tumor or not.

When I met my doctor weeks after my surgical removal, I cried my heart out, but actually, no sound came out of my lips. There are only silent teardrops that filled my eyes.

The news was shocking, I felt dreadful and something that occurred right that instant moment, as if a great wall suddenly built in front of me that I could impossibly get through to my friends and my family anymore. The fear of dying at that moment made me feel so detached from them.

It is never easy for someone diagnosed with cancer to smile.

It is also never easy for someone who cares and wanted to communicate with a patient or survivor. Sometimes words are uncomfortably be uttered.

But YOU can bring a smile to a cancer survivor or patient’s face.

So, if you know someone who is diagnosed with cancer, make your communication simple. With your love, empathy, and smile you can let them know how important he or she in your life.

Love
Showing love doesn’t necessarily have to be from a romantic partner, family or best friend. Sometimes, a stranger is capable to show overwhelming love to someone who is facing something unfamiliar and unpredictable as a cancer diagnosis.

In my journey, I can say that I was so fortunate to feel the love from few people who were there for me during my diagnosis. They are like angels who have this inner beauty that is capable to show great love even from someone who they just met.

Not all cancers are alike, my cancer experience could never be the same as others. Even I met a fellow sarcoma survivor with the same site of tumor with mine, our diagnosis and cancer journey are totally different.

Make your love known to someone has cancer simple by simply listening to him/her. No matter how hard we try to understand them, you will never really understand what they’re going through. Showering advice to someone that has cancer may not actually assure you that they will feel better. Because, sometimes, all they need is someone who can listen to them.

Empathy
Why empathy, not sympathy?

“Empathy is the thread that connects us to other humans. When empathy is used in everyday life, it makes us feel more connected to one another. And when we feel connected to those around us, we into better, more compassionate people.” Brene Brown

How can you connect yourself to someone who is suffering from pain every minute, every day? When a “no respond” from your questions makes you already disappointed and leave that person alone.

Why not show some small act of kindness? Maybe make a relaxing tea for him/her, make a quick grocery before you visit a friend that has cancer or leave a simple message/note (written or digital). It’s these little things that can make a difference that might change the mood of a cancer patient/survivor.

Smile
A smile can be a verb or noun, it’s a facial expression showing how kind and amusing you are where your lips turn up and the front teeth exposed. But a smile is not just a simple definition.

A smile is a very powerful thing that cost nothing but gives much.

There is nothing much to smile about for someone who has cancer. Maybe your smile is needed today. Your smile can bring hope and encouragement to those who suffer from cancer.

A happy person can have 40 to 50 times smile in one day. An average one can have 20 times, why not give one of your smiles to someone you know who is now suffering from the pain cancer has brought?

Had you given a smile to someone who has cancer yet? Or maybe suffering from any chronic illnesses or pain, or maybe depression.

If you haven’t yet, don’t wait for tomorrow. Give one of yours now. Smile!!!

And don’t forget to share your thoughts, leave a comment below!

Cancer Is Hard, And So As Depression

cancer; asia; depression; vietnam; philippines
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

My thoughts… are just everywhere. I could not even focus. My mind is blinded, racing, and beating right out of my chest.

I had been diagnosed with cancer, I followed all the treatments. Now, I’m back home, I can go back to work.

I am not even sure if I will miss my old before my cancer. I embraced my cancer, but I am not living with cancer.

Oh, so you’re still alive, how unfortunate are you!

You are wrong.

Cancer sucks and so as anxiety or depression.

Wait… depression? Don’t get me wrong. I am referring to depression that is more common for everyone even for those people who don’t have cancer.

Depression is not the same as clinical depression. But, if you just let yourself go deeper into different symptoms of depression, you will be more likely stuck in a major depression.

To be honest, if you are gonna ask me how I’m doing, it is a question that I just really want to give a reply.

But if I won’t reply, you will misunderstand me and you will start to drift apart.

Do you think it is easy to answer this question for a cancer survivor? Because you know what? For a cancer survivor like me, I choose not to talk about my cancer and allow me to live my new life with the same people who used to surround me.

Oh, yes, I got it. Some of you will not eventually stay, well, this is my new life!

We choose not to talk about our cancer because this is one of the ways we can cope easily.

You may think that I give up, well, it’s the only way to survive.

I prefer to stop thinking about my cancer, meet new friends, go somewhere I have never been and do things I have never done.

**In one of my research results reveals that depression is more common for people with cancer who often struggle with uncertainty, challenges, and fear that a cancer diagnosis can bring.

According to Cancer.net, depression is a collection of symptoms that group into 4 categories: mood-related, cognitive, physical and behavioral. Because cancer and cancer treatment can cause similar cognitive and physical symptoms as depression. More emphasis is placed on the mood-related and behavioral symptoms for people with cancer.

What are the symptoms?

  1. Mood-related symptoms: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, numbness, or worthlessness.
  2. Cognitive symptoms: they are related to a person’s thought process, it decreases the ability to concentrate, difficulty making decisions, memory problems, and negative thoughts (severe depression can include thoughts of suicide).
  3. Behavioral symptoms: crying often, social withdrawal, loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed and a loss of motivation.
  4. Physical symptoms: fatigue, low energy, poor appetite, sleep problems, lower sex drive.

How does depression affect cancer treatment?

Depression or clinical depression (there two don’t have the same level of stress as what I had mentioned from my previous blog) can worsen the physical effects caused by cancer, sometimes increasing the losses experienced by the patient (for example fatigue caused by depression can worsen the fatigue caused by cancer treatment).

So what are the common ways doctors treat people with depression (the first 2 points can be done carefully even without doctor’s endorsement)?

  • Emotional and social support can help people better cope with the daily challenges that cancer brings.
  • Main treatments are counseling and medication (sometimes both, but must be done by a qualified doctor).
  • A talk with a counselor or a right person/friend (for mild depression).
  • The main goal of counseling is to enhance coping in problem-solving skills, help find support and reshape negative self-defeating thoughts.

There are numbers of counseling options: individual counseling, couples or family counseling and group counseling.

The following are just the inescapable facts of everyone’s life that we cannot change.

You may not have cancer but you are in pain. It may not every day like how a cancer patient feels but it is clear that we cannot stay away from sadness, worthlessness, or anxiety.

Suffering, regardless, it is something that we can be in charge of. We always have the option to stay happy than to be stuck in an utterable turmoil of depression or anxiety.

And only yourself can do that. Your friends and families’ support is more than enough but it’s useless if you already made a choice inside. And that is, to be filled with sadness and negativities.

It is not easy, being happy does not happen in just one snap, but if you are decided after making a choice to turn your life upside-down.

You can see the beauty of the process of taming your brain’s emotional response. Whatever life throws at you, you will always keep returning to a conscious and mindful state of mind. And you will be able to recognize your emotions within yourself and even in others and to manage them daily.

Any thoughts you want to share regarding your struggle and struggle with anxiety and depression?

Just leave your comments below.

**Cancer.net

 

This Is Why You Should Keep A Cancer Journal

 

The Cancer Voice Asia

The onset from dealing with cancer diagnosis is also a beginning of a “lonely” journey and battle.

It’s not only me, but everyone passed through the revelation of our biopsy, we suddenly shut the world down and isolated ourselves from everyone.

For more than two years I began my cancer journey, I saw myself first terrified with the unexpected path I have to stray off and also have met families and friends walking the same frightening pathway.

Do you know what we immediately see at the end of our trail?

This:

Photo by Kapil Dubey on Unsplash

Receiving a diagnosis that there is a tumor growing inside our body or the exact word “CANCER” is the most life-shattering experience we could ever have.

Literally, it smashes out our freedom since these tiny abnormal cells that have uncontrollably divided into our body are growing fast and aggressively.

It suddenly stirs up unexplained and unstable feelings which we don’t even know how to explain it to everyone so we prefer to — CUT PEOPLE LOSE even those who are close to us.

For most of us, having had terrifying medical experiences in the past and a memory that is not really pleasant we usually avoid keep talking about cancer because we need to move on.

Thinking or talking about our cancer can trigger an emotional wound that could overwhelm us with an intensity of emotion that is too deep for words.

It is very fortunate for some that are able to receive a lot of comfort and assistance from organizations and support systems where they could have a privilege to have a grounded life despite the threat of cancer. Where they can receive a complete aid whether in financial, personal, social and emotional aspect.

But, not everyone can have that kind of very fortunate encounter. Still, some of them are living in the dark right from the first day they found out that they have cancer.

This is why I am writing this and you should consider about keeping a cancer journal.

You could be a patient, survivor, or carer.

No one should make an excuse because the fact is, anyone must realize that even we are already in the abyss of this deadly disease, you are still able to find hope and light by writing your cancer journey.

You don’t have to share your journal with everyone. It’s always your choice if you want few people to read your thoughts and feelings that you want to write down as you face this dreadful journey.

As for me, I did not start having this blog and writing numbers of articles “out of the blue”.

I was able to start this blogging out from the thought of sharing my first few journals that I wrote before when I had cancer.

I even never thought of sharing my entire journey to everyone. Until, one day, I did.

Especially here:

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

I wanna make your first journal writing with these few and simple steps:

  1. Start with a few sentences (describe what you actually feel now).
  2. Be open and honest (just like you are talking to yourself in the mirror).
  3. Take your time and enjoy the process (little you might even know that you already write many sentences).

What matters here is yourself. You are doing this by helping your journey easy through reflecting on what’s happening. This is just for you not for other people, so throw all those doubts and worries out the window!

Please don’t think that because you have cancer, you suddenly become a private individual that could not live a life like a normal person that can do anything in life because you think they are healthier than you.

I know for some of you, you are still in the process of accepting this unwanted fate.

Seems impossible to start your cancer journal, I understand.

But writing your journey will somehow give you a chance to slow down and think about the positive things that still happen; despite cancer gives you enough reason to be negative and just give up the fight.

So take your time and never raise that white flag yet.

Please do think as well that having cancer means, it teaches us to be mindful of our life instead of doing anything that we please carelessly before our diagnosis.

What’s more? If you are good at drawing, painting, or any creative skills that you have, you can add it to your journal to make you more inspired.

REMEMBER: Cancer could not simply overthrow your creative skills.

Why not defeat cancer by using your creativity? Knowing that only you can do this, it’s a plus that makes you unique!

And, if you are not quite sure what to write, you can start writing some simple prompts such as:

  • What are you thankful for today?
  • What do you want to do today?
  • What are you worried now?
  • What makes you sad/happy?

Are you ready to get a pen and notebook to start your first cancer journal? It’s never too late for everyone.

Any thoughts you want to add? Just leave your comments below.

Photo by Ilya Ilyukhin on Unsplash

Seriously, Stop Saying, “Let Me Know If You Need Anything”

The Cancer Voice Asia
Please Stop Saying, “Let Me Know If You Need Anything”

For someone who has cancer like me, I am very grateful that you come and visit me in the hospital. Thank you for the cards, a bouquet of flowers and fruits you brought. Glad you initiated a campaign or a fundraising for me – WITHOUT ASKING. I would have said no if you ask me before you did that.

Don’t get me wrong, the phrases, “Let me know what I can do to help” or “Don’t hesitate to call on me” does not mean are not very helpful. Well, I respect your thoughtfulness. But, tell you what, I’m not going to give a reply with what you are asking me. No matter how much you have shown your good intentions, I doubt that would even turn out to be very much helpful because my mind is already filled up with many stuff, negative emotions, and physical discomfort.

I do appreciate and love when you take charge and just do things out of your intention of helping. According to psychological learning, when people are in difficulties or in calamities, the logical part of their brain doesn’t operate well. So, when you ask me what do I need, it will be just a waste all the time. I will not even be able to think of what I need! What will more likely happen is I will be terribly worn out, so giving you a suggestion what you can do to help me is — POINTLESS.

I am not either demoralizing your desire to help, so instead of saying those phrases, I would rather admire if you could say, “I will try my best to help you by any means.” Act your plan even without telling me or anyone what you want to do. If you have many options and you think they are all doable, try to do them one at a time. Bringing foods that prepared by yourself (I appreciate if it’s health-wise), a simple visit (that would be lovely), an errand (taking care of my hospital records or any help you could offer), financial help, or to stay awake each time I need a hand in the middle of the night or early morning. Whatever mood you can bring into my hospital room or bedroom they are all great offers.

However, there are times that I really need to be alone especially when I am not feeling well. You may make a surprise visit, but I may not be able to appreciate it since I feel like I need to stay awake just to talk to you when I really need to nap or sleep because it might burden me with more stress.

To avoid misunderstandings I want to give you some ideas to have a mutual agreement between us:

  1. I will be pleased to be informed which day and what time you are available. You can give me a ring or send SMS prior to that.
  2. You can be specific what you can offer to help. A good and effective discussion will be much more helpful and will not suffer our relationship either.
  3. Make up your mind once we had agreed your visitation or offer to help and give it a go. Be there and do it!

And finally, when you feel doubt, please do tell me. If my medical situation makes you feel unbearable or you don’t have any idea what to help but you really want to give me a leg up, just say your case. Just don’t disappear and make me wonder why I never hear any single word from you since the time I was diagnosed with cancer. That would be more upsetting on my part and there will be more misinterpretations that might come along the way that might completely wreck the good relationship we used to build because of a lack of communication.

A simple conversation, hug — if words are nowhere to find or just being there even you can’t say anything is enough. Your presence is enough and your support will never end there.

Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT MEAN TO BE ABOUT MYSELF. I opt to use the first-person singular pronoun “I” to make this more personal to the reader who has cancer or a survivor and the second-person singular pronoun “you” to someone who is willing to help but no idea what and how to and hoping that somehow this could make an impact on every reader.

Do you feel the same way when somebody offers a help that way? Let me know your thoughts, write your comment below. Thank you.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash.

You May Call Us Superheroes But We Also Have Bad Days

We also have our bad days.
We also have our bad days.

Have you read my previous article yet? Yes, this article that was published in I Had Cancer community. There wasn’t any single moment that I wish I will stop talking about cancer. I hope you got it and I am able to help you to understand.

Well, hello again, call me Cielo (in case you missed to remember my name) and I fought cancer, that’s my superpower. I am one of the superheroes who beat cancer.

I am writing this article to say what I exactly feel. That – even superheroes have bad days. Are you familiar with this line? You guys must have watched the most awaited movie of the year, The Avengers. Yeah, I love those superheroes, too! But, that line is not inspired by these supercool superheroes. To be honest, I got this line from the storytime with my preschool kids today. It’s lovely how we teach children about life skills that adults are supposed to know, too, but we teach them in a fun and comical way (will adults would love the same way of learning like children do?).

Let me share some of the lines from the story that mean so much to me as a person who survives the death of cancer.

When superheroes don’t get their way, when they’re sad, when they’re mad, when they have a bad day…

…they could use their superpowers to kick, punch, and pound. They could shriek-they could screech with an ear-piercing sound (sounds annoying if I could imagine).”

But upset superheroes have all sorts of choices… Instead of destruction and loud, livid voices… Instead, they dig down to their super-best part, the strong super-powers contained in their heart!

And using their talents as true heroes should, they battle the urge to do harm (though they could). They acknowledge their sorrow, their anger, their pain, as they wait for their super-emotions to wane (Uhmm… namaste!)”

It’s okay if they frown. It’s okay if they sigh. It’s okay if they slump down and cry (boohoo!!!) BUT THEN they get up and get on with their day…

…saving the world in their most super way.

It’s easy to take pity on someone you know got cancer but we don’t really need your pity. As we beat cancer’s plot to execute us, we would like to take pride in as a part of this big community that beats this deadly disease. Just imagine how we escape death, it also means we escape from being stuck of being afraid and uncertain. And that’s one of the things we are proud for!

But, we are still the same human beings after we beat cancer. We have our bad days, too. But we try not to take advantage of being someone used to be a victim of cancer and look for sympathy. So, whenever we feel upset, a bit sick, sad, mad or like breaking down and wanted to cry hard, we also do our best not to give worries to someone who loves us. Until then, we are sure that our emotions are grounded again, we get up, show up and save our little world with the people who love us in our most super way!

I know that this article is all about cancer survivors. But, hey! You don’t need to have cancer to be a superhero. You don’t need to have cancer to call yourself a survivor. Whatever life’s circumstances and choices you have now, you just only need to save yourself like what every survivor do. There’s no prince charming in every life’s story or knight in a shining armor, there’s no rescue boat and no one’s coming to save you. You have to stop waiting you get picked and continue to push forward to not give up (Reworded as I was inspired by this video).

Does this article resonate with you? Share your thoughts, leave a comment below!

Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

How Can A Distraction Manage A Chronic Pain For A Cancer Survivor?

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Tien has shown a fervent strength despite the extreme pain she felt right after her 2nd surgery.

This is a personal story of one of the people who are close to me and just recently had her 2nd surgery. Her recovery is still in progress but we had noticed a remarkable progression from her.

You don’t know how strong this lady is. I salute her braveness despite the agonizing pain she felt for months. As I remember, after her 2nd surgery, she decided not to stay in her house and rest; instead, she jumped into the bus and traveled with us to one of the towns not really far from Saigon. That was not easy though, she felt dizzy, vomited and caught with a fever the day after. But, hey! That was just for days! Even that experience was not really nice if you try to imagine, but now she is gradually recovering, and the most noticeable recovery is – she did not feel the same pain anymore.

I am not talking that there is a miracle happened behind that sudden disappearance of her pain. There’s none. The pain that she felt during those days is actually normal and will eventually get better as the wound inside heals. Unfortunately, this pain sometimes last for months and for some people, it lasts a year. The pain she felt during those times is different from the pain I felt during the course of my treatment 2 years ago. And I could not really give an accurate personal judgment and compare her pain to mine even we were on the same journey.

The pain that I am actually talking is a severe pain where she can hardly breathe and keep losing weight every day. Afraid that her cancer is metastasized, so we decided to make a new appointment to a new doctor and one of the doctors we met ordered a blood test and assured us that there is no metastatic sign seen in her blood. We are not contented with this result as Tien still felt the same pain and it even gets worst and even us could not understand her anymore. Even herself could not understand why she feels that kind of pain. Sometimes, I don’t want to keep asking her the same question, how she is doing, because she still gives the same answer, “I feel pain”.

After many visits we did with different doctors in Saigon, different tests she has to take to understand the pain she felt inside, why she continuously losing weight – still, we have not acquired the answer we are demanding. Despite the daily suffering she felt, she was more than willing to live a new normal life.

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A meeting with Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor.
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A pulse diagnosis is like the “MRI” of traditional medical system.
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Another meeting with a Thyroid Oncologist.

Now here comes an “alternative therapy” which actually works for Tien during her recovery stage. Distraction draws a patient into a highly interesting activity to take his or her mind off pain or discomfort.* This is only effective for a patient who is experiencing pain but it does not cure cancer. When a patient is engaged in an interesting activity, it allows its mind being distracted by unpleasant thoughts or pain that can help the patient feel better.

The following are suggested activities and therapies can provide a distraction that might work well for every cancer patient:

  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Dance therapy
  • Imagery
  • Stories
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Virtual reality and computer games
  • Doing needlework or puzzles
  • Building models or painting
  • Watching TV

So, what are the activities Tien did that provide a distraction?

  1. Talk with friends and family
  2. Read books or articles online
  3. Listen to uplifting music (sometimes we go Karaoke)
  4. Go outside (she usually does this by herself, take a walk in the park)
  5. Take care of animals (there are 2 cats living at home, so whenever she is alone at home she feed and pet the cats)
  6. Travel (she usually travels with is in one of the towns outside Saigon)

These activities Tien did, are done at a slow pace, we still do encourage her not to force herself as she is still recovering. But her spirit showed the willingness to live a new normal life and recover completely. At the moment, Tien is inspired to do her job again as a freelance graphic and web designer. And in the future, she aims to visit her oncology doctor again to have another test done to make sure that there is no another cancer cell growing inside her body.

**This blog is not intended to give a professional medical advice. It is best to always seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner whatever medical condition you may or your loved ones have at the moment. Some medical accounts mentioned in this article are made from a careful research of the author, personal experiences shared from those who have similar cases like Tien, and a doctor’s prior validation what cause this pain to inflict her every day.

*Source: Distraction, Health Encyclopedia, University of Rochester Medical Center.

Photo courtesy of the owner.