One of the most important pieces of advice I can give any cancer patient, as an experienced patient and survivor is, “do not look at your calendar and an end date for your treatments.”
It is only natural once you are diagnosed with a cancer, and told how long you will be undergoing treatments, to look at the calendar and see just when it will all end. An end goal is always a good thing, however, going through cancer treatments is such a struggle. That is why we all dread going through it. The stereotype alone is enough to cause us anxiety.
But imagine the following scenarios:
1) you are a patient scheduled to undergo 12 cycles of a treatment plan. This could mean 24 weeks or 12 months. Watching the calendar could make it feel impossible that you will be able to reach that end.
2) prior to starting your next treatment, your blood counts are off, and you are told you will not be able to undergo your next treatment, thus pushing your end date further than you had planned. Or perhaps you get the flu or some other infection. Delays of treatments are devastating.
My dad recently found out about this philosophy of mine, first hand. As we arrived to meet the oncologist prior to his treatment, the oncologist notices a swelling and discoloration in the hand that had received the chemo injection. It had become infected and needed to be treated before the next treatment could begin. It is possible that had my dad noticed it sooner, it could have been treated when it actually started to develop, but obviously had not. He got the news no cancer patient going through treatment wants to hear, “we will have to reschedule you for next week”.
So how do you prevent this thinking from happening? It is simple. Keep the task at hand as simple as you can, worry only about the treatment you are currently undergoing. Take each treatment one day at a time. It is really that easy.
I should know. My last treatment was delayed because I got the flu.