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EMOTIONAL HEALTH /// CHAPTER 72
After a diagnosis, regardless of age, several things happen all at the same time that make you feel out of control. You know
that spinning plates analogy? There's probably a lot of broken china right now. There are three concurrent issues:
You have a whole new plate to spin, and one you certainly didn't ask for.
You likely have no experience or knowledge in this medical/ cancer arena and feel uncertain in your decision making. One
way people deal with that stress is by " going turtle " and letting others make all the decisions. Another stress response is to
try to randomly grab control when you can (ex: deciding not to take one of your prescribed medications without talking it over
with your medical team first).
You can't do some of the things that make you you.
You know the things that you feel skilled and confident in. Maybe you feel like someone took one of your favorite plates!
You are having to ask others for help.
It's frustrating and undercuts your self-confidence to need others so much - sometimes to do some rather embarrassing
things. You want to stay in control and not be a burden on others.
The best way to feel more in control is
to take steps in each of these areas.
Step 1: Speak up.
Learning to speak up on your own behalf can be hard, but if it means you get to make the decisions most important to you,
it's worth a shot. There have probably been lots of people - doctors, nurses, other medical staff, parents (even the odd
stranger!) - telling you what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Unfortunately, there will be some things your medical team
tells you to do that are not easily negotiable (e.g. come to the ER when you have low counts and a fever, take a laxative if you
haven't pooped in 5 days). But there are some things you can still decide or negotiate. Don't be afraid to ask!
Step 2: Be yourself.
Yes, some of your favorite plates have been taken away. Some temporarily, maybe some permanently. It's not fair. And
grieving is healthy and normal. You may need to talk that grief out with family, friends or a counselor. And...you are still you,
and there are still things you can do that are uniquely you. Those things may already be known to you, or you may find this
is a nudge to learn a new skill or pastime. Make the effort to preserve time and energy for these self-affirming activities to
boost your sense of control.
Step 3: Ask for help.
In order to do #1 and #2, you are going to have to hand off some spinning plates. Remember, asking for help does not mean
you've lost your independence! And your loved ones genuinely want to be helpful. If you doubt it, try to imagine the tables
were turned - you'd want to help them.
Have an open and honest discussion with your family and friends about your needs and how people can help you. Try using
the statement, " I need your help, but I still want to be independent " as a starting point.
Consider the use of online programs such as Caring Bridge, to communicate medical status and support needs with loved
ones (More information is provided in the Resources section at the back of the toolkit).
https://www.caringbridge.org/ https://fwaya.org/

What Do I Do Now?

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of What Do I Do Now?

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