When I think or write about the stages of dealing with cancer, one thought always comes to mind.
I ran into a guy while I was going through radiation treatments. He had a odd look on his face. I asked if he was alright.
He told me he had just learned he had cancer. I said I understood.
The next thing he said told me the odd look, was really fear. “It’s a death sentence.”
I tried to reassuring him, but the nurse called and our talk ended.
Four Stages We All Go Through When We Hear – ‘You Have Cancer’
In my story, the man I spoke with was filled with fear. If you read a couple of articles like this,you might find fear a little further down the list. Not for the man I talked to. He was scared. He was certain he would die.
Often, when patients are felling this overwhelming sense of fear, it gives way to anger. They aren’t really angry with people. They may say they’re angry with God.
In reality, they’re scared. The heart is so full of fear it doesn’t know how to respond. It will pass.
Usually it is the first reaction. I don’t think that most people, intellectually, deny the diagnosis. They just wish it were not true.
I think the process is more like; The doctor is wrong, or they messed up the test, or, they grabbed the wrong chart.
I don’t see that as denial. I see it as hope.
It is so common, that cancer patient become sad. The sadness is often rooted in the belief they will die sooner than planned. None of us plan to die anytime soon. Cancer changes that thinking.
Patients are sad they won’t complete a goal. The bucket list is now down to one or two items yet even those are uncertain.
Parents fear leaving children alone. They fear missing grandchildren. There is plenty to be sad about.
Some arrive here sooner than others. Some never do. It is actually a pretty good place to be if you’re the patient. The acceptance of having cancer makes treatment easier. It makes life with family and friends easier.
Once the patient has accepted the fact that they have cancer, they are then free to explore all the reasons the disease will not kill them.
When I got the word, it was over the telephone. It was planned. I was a thousand miles away and would not be back for several weeks. Neither the doctor nor I wanted to wait that long.
The conversation was short, to the point. When I got off the phone I sat down. I can recall saying the words, ‘I guess that’s it then.’
I thought about it, I said a prayer and I went back to work.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT
They have cancer and it might just kill them, how do you think they feel?
I understand the question and so do most people. It is simply a question we don’t want to hear.
Consider asking, “Is this a good day?”
I would love to hear your thoughts. Let me read them in the comments below.