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.

To My Dear Friend, Your Hug Means A Lot

cancer voice in asia
A hug is worth a thousand words. Photo by Hian Oliveira on Unsplash

To continue the letter series for a friend, To My Dear Friend, let’s now talk about the feelings, mood changes and personality changes of a cancer patient or survivor.

You are maybe caring a loved one who has cancer and you might observe his/her personality changes also you are unable to fathom that temperament.

Coming across a friend or loved one’s personality changes because of cancer seems scary and disappointing but it is the time they need you the most.

You might find that is complicated that you can ever imagine communicating to someone you used to spend time the rest of your life. But here you go, you are wondering what went wrong.

Please do remember:

Personality changes in cancer may happen for many reasons–

From mental health to chemical changes in the body…

BUT… it does not really change what you or friends, family or carers have to cope with.

There are many simple ways you can do even you are struggling with communicating with a loved one or friend that has cancer:

  1. Write a letter.
  2. Write a small note once in a while, leave in a fridge or in at the door of the bedroom.
  3. Cook something delicious and healthy food.
  4. Give a HUG.

The simple do in just do it. Where, also a common proverb agreed to it, “Actions speak louder than words.” A meaningful silence is always better than meaningless words – and go along with simple actions.

Cancer patients and survivors do not need superficial friends or family.

Unfortunately, some people will turn their backs on you. Whether a family or friend, after hearing those three little words “cancer” they just simply abandon you.

For most of us who experience cancer, it is an isolating disease which tends to shut us up after the diagnosis. Yes, we still need and want to talk about our cancer, the worst thing might happen, in case we are going to die at any moment from now. We also want to consider the option if we are going to turn down the treatment. We want to talk about our pain and grieve for ourselves. But, regrettably, a lot of people don’t want to listen to that, even our close friends and family.

However, having experienced cancer and became isolated from the people that surround me had taught me a lot of valuable lessons. One of those is learning to accept that people have limitations, understanding that even a family is not able to be there for someone who has cancer. Probably, some are just afraid and could not come face to face with their fears. Some need you to be strong and only could not bear seeing you weak. Or unfortunately, some of them just don’t care as much about as you thought they did.

Whatever reasons people may turn their backs on someone who has cancer must probably have own issues. Whether knowing it is unfair for someone who has cancer being deserted. However, behind this abandonment issues, there is always a hopeful side of having cancer. And that is helping us see who our real friends are. Even a stranger can become a part of your day-to-day survival and become a friend for a lifetime.

To my dear friend, who did me a favor during the time I was so exhausted and needed a hug badly. Feeling so grateful for you gladly promised to give me that hug, casting aside your priority for the meantime and took care of me.

To my dear friend, I hate to think that your cancer came back. Seeing you each day being so strong, you just simply put the words, “be strong” into action and we still have hope” by caring your close friends whenever we also got sick. It is unimaginable that someone has cancer and racked with pain every day still able to care whenever a friend gets ill. You just simply show up as possible as you could and help in any way as you could. Where in fact, you are the one that should be taken care of.

Having experience this magical physical contact from a friend during the time I was exhausted and from a friend now who is every day exhausted from cancer, we must realize the importance of physical contact by simply giving a hug.

Cancer hurts.

The pain cannot be described. A bit of human warmth and contact to remind someone who suffers from cancer that they are not alone.

To be sure, there are some cancer patients that are suffering excruciating pain in their bones or muscles. Also, never forget to ask before you give them a warm squeeze and try to be as gentle as you can.

“SOMETIMES ALL WE NEED IS JUST A HUG.”

 

 

Hashtag #RealTalk: A Letter To My Stoma

cancer voice in asia
Never be afraid to cross the limits.

I was deeply moved by the letter written by “Haparae” to her Stoma. Here’s for another unstoppable fighter that opens up about her illness and how she deals with love, life, and body confidence.

A Letter to My Stoma

I was so sick and tired of you ruining my life. You made me feel so ugly and insecure. Everywhere I went, you were there- a constant reminder that I’m never gonna be normal and I’m entirely isolated. It’s just you and I. You were supposed to help me get better and “cure” me but that was a terrible fail, wasn’t it? Now there’s no going back because all I’m left with is you.

It’s been almost a year and I still struggle to make eye contact in the mirror as I get ready for my day. Cause I know you’ll be an inconvenience to me: you’re loud, painful, disgusting, ugly and annoying. I just wish you weren’t there and I could live without you but that’s the irony of us, huh? We need each other to live. Pretty soon I may find out that even you aren’t helping me get better like the other piece of me that was torn out. And before we know it, pieces of you will start leaving me too.

I try to remember what it was like when I had the luxury of meandering throughout my days; never thinking twice about you or how much my world has flipped upside down. I miss having options so much. That’s how you made me so different from everyone I knew- you were so reckless; not even considering my current situation, my future, my bucket list, my dreams or any of my plans….gone. Dissipated into thin air as soon as I awoke in the hospital and found you there looking back at me.

All I want is to know that this will only be temporary. Having you here has given me so much disappointment, to the point that I gave up on dating, nursing school, relationships and having a family. Those intangible thoughts pass through like foreigners as I place them where they belong: on a shelf way far back in my mind. I have to. Let’s be real, no guy is gonna want to deal with us and the weight of responsibility that comes with this package. It’s not like that anymore. Because of you, I’m on my own. No matter how much courage I build up to give it one more try, it still somehow seems to go to shit. Literally.

I hated you. I hated you so much that I tried to cut you out of my life. Both emotionally and physically. I took the sharpest knife I could find to end this toxic thing we had going. You don’t belong here and I wanted to get rid of you. As I watched you bleed to death in front of me from my own bare hands, I stopped and held you. I stared at the puddles of blood resting on the cold tile floor and my mind was racing. This had to stop. Stop the anger and stop time. It’s not fair to you; you’re just doing your job and I have to accept it. Cutting you out wasn’t going to change the fact that I’m still grasping for better days. I still have hope. I can’t believe I got to this point with you and it helped me realize that I need to face this. I will be okay. We’ll be okay. We’re gonna get through this. Just like all those other times.

You may have made me feel alone and broken, however, you were there in my quietest and hardest moments. The times I was so weak to wake up to crawl from my bed to my bathroom so I could throw up the blood that was choking me. Or the times I wanted to cry because my wardrobe had to drastically change but you made me laugh anyways cause we look silly. Or when we were at a party and you leaked so we improvised. We changed you in that bathroom as the free-spirited world outside were holding drinks in their hands, dancing the night away. They were totally oblivious to what you and I were enduring together in that lonely bathroom. It’s weird how in such a massive, social place, you can feel so alone because no one has any idea that you’re fighting this horrible illness that’s invisible to the average eye. And you’re a professional by now at being strong and making sure no one worries about you or knows that you’re a disabled, late 20’s woman just trying to deal the best she can.

Yep, we made it this far. I also should give you credit for when we were told that we’re an “inconvenience” by countless associates, including myself. Thanks for shrugging it off and reminding me that I can’t control my illness or life, but I can choose how I want this story to end. I’m worth the inconvenience, no, We are worth the inconvenience. I’ve come to terms that I have a long journey ahead that will bring more loss and pain but you’re still here and we take it day by day. We got this. Thank you for sticking to me (pun intended) and being my symbol of hope and strength. I won’t ever give up on us. Cheers to the adventures that lie ahead. ✌🏼

– A.I.

Words from The Cancer Voice Asia:
Just another fighter and survivor that is also proud to talk to anyone to help awareness around her bag. For people like us who had traumatic experiences from chronic illnesses, we do hope that you do the same to yourself or your loved one. Raising awareness of health issues is very important because all of us are directly affected by it, and still highly misguided.

cancer voice in asia

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
~Haparae~
This article was originally published at https://haparae.wordpress.com/.

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

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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!

We Never Truly Know Another’s Pain They Carry

cancer voice in asia
A man shouting for freedom from pain. Photo courtesy by Tony Rojas on Unsplash

We all fall down.

Whether we are healthy or not, rich or poor, young or old.

There are times that we have to fall lower than we have ever been, to stand up taller than we ever were.

There are times we need to rise up by ourselves and live the reality that there is no back up coming along the way.

Sometimes,

We have to fall down,

Alone.

And realize that…

Falling down is a part of someone’s life, to rise up is life.

Life can be explained in many ways.

It’s definition is vague.

Yet, one thing that it is clear — in life we need to go through some pain.

You think that killing yourself would be a permanent solution to a temporary problem?

Stop giving up hope.

And start giving in to life’s biggest risk.

It is enriching our life.

It is in fact much more rewarding.

Will you choose to take the risk?

We all make choices.

You have a choice each and every single day.

And everything we do in life is done by the choices we make.

Whatever happened in our life is the by-product of the choices we’ve made.

Some consequences bring sheer bliss.

Some pain.

Pain…

You have cancer.

You are hoping for the best while planning for the worst.

Sometimes this too much pain we don’t even want to tell everyone, even our loved ones, friends, or doctors.

It steals our happiness.

It steals our hair, money, family, pleasure in life that puts us up to anxiety, depression, hopelessness, our ability to do well and accomplish our task or unable to make a good decision.

Please, try to understand the pain we feel.

You may never fathom how intense and agonizing we may feel.

Just be there.

Whether you can’t utter any words from your mouth. You will perfectly express the right words at the right time.

Your silence is enough.

Your presence is enough.

Your actions can have a huge impact on a mundane life I am now going through.

Know that this pain not only hurts physically, it also leads to depression, isolation, or anxiety.

But…

There’s hope.

We know.

We need time.

We need time to reduce this pain and rebuild ourselves.

We also want to live a normal life like you.

We know we have hope despite of pain.

Hope is something we desire and expect with.

Like you, we want to have a chance to be normal like you

We were once a normal person with a job.

We were once a normal person who loves to watch TV, go out and meet some friends.

We were once a normal person who thinks life is perfectly fine.

Until one day,

We started to learn new words such as metastatic or sarcoma.

We spend our time in the hospital or in our bedroom.

We still want to have a normal life despite all of this.

Raise our own kids, grow old and see our grandkids, too.

We want a chance to be just like you.

Who can still make more achievements like you do.

Sometimes, we wish to want back what cancer took away.

Like you, we want to feel our lives have a purpose

Having a purpose in life seems impossible for us who endures a chronic pain with a chronic illness.

Yet hope has given us to find our life’s purpose.

Having hope may endure the misery of our treatment.

That we many able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

You can give us your definitions of hope.

We always expect of good things that are yet to be — to achieve our desired goal.

And find meaning in our family, friends and even in my cancer experience.

We never truly know another’s pain carry, until then…

We find a new level of value to life itself.

By simply making a choice to stop and smell the plumeria we see along the road.

By looking up to see the color of the sky when the sun is setting.

By listening to the sound of raindrops.

By admiring someone’s kindness.

By feeding stray animals.

By appreciating someone’s unexpected help.

In doing this, we find more meaning in life…

We try to understand the greater purpose or reason behind this illness and what it means to our life now.

We try to explore more feelings about cancer and how I react to every pain I feel daily.

We try to identify that cancer should, in fact, a life-changing experience that makes us wanted to understand more about the effect of this illness in my life.

Suddenly a gradual change in our interest and priorities that used to be not important before our cancer.

It brings means to understand our life and to find a way of healing — within.

Until such time,

We allow ourselves to feel the pain instead of hiding it.

We embrace pain and burden to fuel our journey to a new normal life.

We accept this experience that will help us find and go through to the detoxifying vitality of life — that lead us to one of the rightful things that can occur to us in our life, if…

…we let it in.

“We hide the pain in the weirdest places
Broken souls with smiling faces
Fighting for surrender
For now and the after, yeah
Just look around and you’ll see that people
Are scared to say how they really feel
Oh, we all need a little honesty”

Disclaimer:

Chronic pain is one of the hardest battles of any person that endures chronic illness. Having a positive life for most people who experience excruciating pain every day — seems impossible, but this may take time to reverse what we expect the least. Some may be able to win this battle against chronic pain, some may give up. The author somehow wanted to extend a great hope for everyone, especially for those who are now experiencing a great pain. And to let everyone knows that killing oneself is not the option of a hope offered in life.

Have you had any loved ones who now keep battling to beat the pain? They deserve to have a life brighten up — not to live with the dark.

If so, please share with us! Leave a comment below!

Human Contact Cannot Be Overestimated!

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Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Human contact cannot be overestimated!

This was the exact sentence from another cancer survivor to me in one of the fora in the social media where we share experiences and victories.

I shared my latest blog, a letter to my friend whose cancer is back right after her second surgery with her recurrence tumor in the thyroid in the same forum I mentioned earlier and received very helpful comments afterward.

“Please take some time to go see her even if all you do is sit and hold her hand.”

“If you can, go and cry with her. Then talk, then cry some more, then encourage her that you will be there. In spirit if not always in body. If you can only text or write, that’s okay. Just tell her she is not alone and you will stay to whatever the end is, whenever it is. Then do it. It’ll make all the difference for her and you. Let her know, she can say anything. You won’t leave.”

These are the first two bits of advice I received from one of the most courageous people across the globe.

Their words are powerful to help another, to encourage another.

Similarly with what Karla Kay said during our previous interview,

“Until you hear those 3 words, you have no idea how you would handle anything!”

True! Even the three little word – CANCER – is powerful to devastate our world. However, this word will just be a trifle with the powerful words of those people surrounded by someone has cancer.

Someone that is ready to answer without making the understanding difficult.

People need people.

An approval, comfort, or encouragement from other people is vital to human health, both mentally and physically. With the help of social interaction, people can express their feelings and share their problems with other people.

Not just any social support, it must be a good social support that can help someone coping with stress, major life changes (like divorce, moving house, migrating, and so on…) or chronic illnesses.

It has been proved by many researchers and studies that the most lonely people more often are afflicted with health and mental problems such as cardiovascular problem, stress, anxiety, and depression.

“No man is an island.”

Just like what the famous proverb goes, “No man is an island”. Knowing that we are being thought of and valued by few people who are close to us is an essential psychological factor in helping us to ignore the negative aspects of our lives, and thinking more positively about our environment.

Friends and family are there to reduce the stress that we are enduring that can boost our confidence and gives us great motivation not to give up easily.

Having said that, in the reality of life, there are some circumstances that we cannot always expect a great encouragement from our friends and family.

Instead, these are the people we expect the least.

They are the ones who unselfishly keeping us the fight toward the victory.

They are once strangers in our life which turns into someone we can always run to.

However…

Not all of us have the toughness to open our hearts and share our feelings and problems.

Not all of us have the courage to be upfront to share our raw feelings.

There are people who find it difficult to process their feelings and communicate to others, yet they are still misunderstood.

More so, the lack of interaction of these kinds of people can negatively lead to first signs of depression and anxiety.

Don’t waste your time.

Whenever you know someone who is suffering from life-threatening conditions such as cancer, a strong human connection can help the recovery and even enhance the quality of their life, which is very important for a seriously ill or mentally unhealthy person.

If you know one, go and make them feel that they should not be alone carrying all the burdens they are bearing.

You’ll never tell how you can improve their well-being that affects their immune system as well.

Your words and actions can be a great moment of truth for them.

It is never too late to do anything if you start doing it now. Especially, helping someone in the core of deep sadness.

Have you made yourself a great influence and positive impact on someone’s life? Have you been part of someone else’s turning point in life? Have you brightened up their dark days? Have you snatched them out from the abyss of loneliness?

If so, please share with us! Leave a comment below!

 

She Sparkles And Shines On, Meet Karla Kay

cancer in asia
Karla Kay – Leiomyosarcoma Survivor, Stage 1b Grade High

Let me just tell those “SHOULD”ers they need to STOP!! Until you hear those 3 words you have no idea how you would handle anything!

The Diagnosis
On 28th October 2015, I received the phone call at 5 p.m. while standing in the kitchen from my gynecologist doctor. His words were very somber and slow after I heard him say, “The biopsy came back and you have cancer”, I couldn’t hear anything else. I dropped to the floor and told him to stop talking! My son was there and literally picked me up off of the floor.

The Decisive Moment
From that moment my life changed forever. After the shock wore off my focus was to get the beast (cancer) out and stay alive to help plan my daughter’s wedding who just told me a week before she was getting married on October 16th, 2016. After my surgery, I was told I had a very rare aggressive Leiomyosarcoma of the uterus (Stage 1b Grade High). I thought how could this be!? How could my body be trying to kill me, I lost all trust in my body, how could the uterus that gave me 2 beautiful children turn so ugly! I was angry. I began questioning God. I began questioning my life. My journey of 2 1/2 years has been a roller coaster. I am very grateful to still be cancer free coming up on 3 years now. But not a day goes by I don’t think about what if it returns. I lost many people who I thought were “friends”, set boundaries and I feel there is a before cancer Karla and an after cancer Karla.

Advice
My advice, DON’T LET ANYONE “SHOULD” ON YOU!!! You know what I’m talking about those who are survivors. Whether you currently have cancer or currently NED (No Evidence of Disease), some people will tell you how you “should” be handling it, how you “should” be acting, what you “should” be feeling. Let me just tell those “SHOULD”ers they need to STOP!! Until you hear those 3 words you have no idea how you would handle anything! Another piece of advice, let go of toxic people live life to the fullest and be bold! God gave me a second chance, I will not allow anyone to take it from me. I hit hell’s floor and I rose with fire!

Wow! This interview has really amazed and inspired me! I can feel the driven strength of character of Karla Lay. It is an honor to do an interview with this another Leiomyosarcoma warrior for three years and counting.

Karla is now cancer free. She had a total abdominal hysterectomy where the tumor was contained in her uterus. Thankfully, it has not spread. She visits her oncologist and surgeon and has CT scans every three months.

How does this story of Karla Kay resonate with you? Share your thoughts, leave a comment below!

Photo courtesy of the author.

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

 

The Selfless Sarcoma Warrior

The Diagnosis
MPNST (Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor) high-grade in sternum area and low-grade in the left thigh, May 20, 2016.

The Decisive Moment
I did many surgeries from 1st grade, middle school, and even after my college. Since I was young, I’ve got a number of lumps forming in my body.

My family was very worried so they brought me to the doctor for a biopsy. An excision biopsy was done and the result was eventually okay.

Unfortunately, the number of lumps growing in my body grew more each year. So, I was required for another surgical removal especially on my right abdomen.

My surgical removal happened for 3 times already but then, another lump grew on a different site.

Until then, the doctors were able to give their final diagnosis, I have Neurofibromatosis since I was still in college.

I tried to make research over the Internet and look for the common symptoms. I realized then that my cancer is genetic and I got this from my grandfather from my father’s side.

Most of my lumps previously were all benign, until a tumor appears from a different site and it turns out to become malignant.

After having many surgeries done since I was young, I even look like a rag doll already, but it’s fine as long as the results are good.

Despite the fact that I am living with cancer, I never let cancer define me.

I successfully completed my nursing degree and I work as a nurse for 6 years after college. I am PDN (Private Duty Nurse) to a cancer patient with a terminal case which I took care of her for only 4 months. Then, as a caregiver in the western part of the globe and a medical nurse in the middle east.

Like you, I also have many plans for me and my family. Like giving them all the best from the only daughter that they ever had. Until this had happened. It seems unfair but I never allow this illness hinder my plans.

When I figured out that I have another tumor on my left thigh and on my sternum, it was so difficult to believe that it happened again. But then I just ignored it.

When I was working in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I notice that the tumor grows bigger than the last time I checked it from the same site (in my sternum). It’s very uncomfortable for my job. I was thinking to go back to the Philippines to have this check.

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