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.

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.”

 

 

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.

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!

I CRIED

cancer in asia
Photo by Luis Galvez on Unsplash

 

You may think I am much tougher after beating cancer.

You may think…

I never break down.

I still cry.

I cried.

I howled

Perhaps you, too,

There are times you have to cry, too.

I cry.

I cry.

I cry.

I don’t wanna stop crying.

Until I will be fine again.

For days.

For weeks.

For months.

Until I have to cry again.

It’s a cycle.

I write about pain.

I write about depression.

I write about my love.

My unconditional love for those who are willing to receive.

I said I don’t need that love to be returned.

But, sometimes, I feel like I wish it will be returned, too.

Somehow.

Yes, it was.

Yes, it is.

Glad for the friends who I have now.

Glad for a sister that shows unconditional love.

Glad for old friends who also did the same.

And leave precious and useful memories.

Thank you.

Thank you so much.

A blogger is just a human.

A writer has real emotions.

A cancer survivor is like another superhero who drop its sword and cry like a child.

Because, deep inside, this hero that beats cancer — is also a child.

Human Contact Cannot Be Overestimated!

cancer in asia blog
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!

 

To My Dear Friend, Let’s Crush Cancer Together

cancer in asia; vietnam; philippines
Photo by Courtney Prather on Unsplash

Recently, you had brought us another terrible news that makes us unbearably sad.

“You have cancer, again.”

This news had shocked us and left us completely speechless.

I sent you a message right after I heard that news from our other friend.

Then, you replied back, “We have still hope!”

Yes! We still have lots of hope.

With us, we will try to crush this cancer as positive and happy as possible as we could.

You know, we can still go for a walk together in the park. What a shame that I have not been able to do that with you yet as like we always plan before, I am sorry.

But of course, we can shop for more groceries like we used to do. Or sing our favorite karaoke songs together.

Let’s have more movie together, and again, I am really sorry I fell asleep when we were watching the last time.

Yes, there are still much hope!

Because cancer cannot defeat your brave and fighting spirit.

Because it cannot quiet your daring outlook in life.

Because it cannot kill friendship.

Because…

It cannot stop making you more good memories.

I can see how well you’ve been trying to beat cancer (alone).

I really admire your courage since, and you are much braver than before.

I understand…

I understand how exhausting to keep going back to the hospital for days and waiting for the whole day for your test results and doctor’s appointment.

I can imagine after all those exhausting days visiting your doctor you will hear again the word you used to hear. I feel like my even knees sudden weaken after I heard the news about you.

With this recent news, I know, it takes a lot of courage to accept the truth. Even us, we could not seem hardly imagine why this is all happening again. You may be hiding your real emotions yet you are still bold enough to handle this carefully.

You are one of the toughest persons I know. I could not imagine why this nagging cancer dares to keep coming back and thinks it could a chance against you. This is really unfair it’s happening again.

Please do remember, you are not alone in this journey. We are here to help you at any and every step of this burdensome journey.

All I wish, that one day, you’ll get through this. I can’t wait for more bus escapades together with you, our beach days and even more coffee shops hop.

You are an inspiration to us. How you showed your strength despite the pain you feel every day.

The dedication you had shown in the project we are doing and how relentless you are with your plans while you are living with cancer.

Please, always remember this, although you are now in the midst of many uncertainties at the moment…

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

 

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