by Dave Evans

I have been diagnosed with three different kinds of cancer. One diagnosis was a false alarm. The other two I had surgery and one I had radiation for 8 weeks and a year of drug therapy. That cancer was more than a two year struggle. The son of a bitch nasty ass cancer had the nerve to come back after major surgery that I thought had cured me. How unfair!!!!!!

I am alive and cured and well and enjoying life.

A diagnosis of cancer is an existential shock but nowadays there is a lot they can do.

There is a lot you can do to restore your sense of control over your life and treatment.

1. Learn as much as you can about your cancer. Do not take anyone’s word about it including your doctor. I love doctors but in some cases they get it wrong. Last summer I was diagnosed with my third cancer and went to Sloan Kettering to get it cut out. They went in and there was no cancer there. I had a bad couple of months until they got it right.

2. Do not make major decisions alone. Set up an advisory group. 

3. Do not be brave. Having cancer sucks!!!! There is nothing nice about it. Bitch, moan and vent all you want. Putting up a brave struggle by yourself against cancer is a bunch of bullshit!!!! You are facing death. Lean on your family and friends. Ask for help. That is what they are there for. It will also help them emotionally. It will give them a feeling that they can do something and take control of their own fear and sense of powerlessness.

4. Get second or third opinions. The more information you get the better.

5. Get treatment at a national cancer center. They are up to date on all the science stuff.

6. You will experience fatigue no matter what they do. Get lots of rest and eat well. 

7. Be an aggressive patient. I do not mean being rude just be relentless in seeking information and seeking help. This will reassure your family and friends.

8. Thank your treatment providers. They see a lot of bad stuff and need bucking up. Bring them candy or flowers. Become their favorite patient. Each time I go back to Sloan I go in and thank the radiation guys. I gave them and other staff boxes of fine chocolates. They loved it.

9. Seek to support other cancer patients. There is always some poor soul who is worse off than you. When undergoing radiation I made out get well cards that offered hope and gave them out to other patients. I was in a men’s waiting area for the radiation and the magazines were boring. Lots of women’s stuff. I complained and they brought in more interesting magazines for us. Guy stuff.

10. Keep your sense of humor. You can joke with other cancer patients about stuff that you cannot with your family. 

11. Get counseling to deal with your fear and sense of powerlessness. You may also get strange feelings and ideas that you need to work out.

12. Your fear is your friend. It is letting you know that you need to pay attention.

13. Pray. I do that each day and did it a lot when I was being treated. The 91st Psalm is a good one. You are experiencing your mortality and that is good for your spiritual growth. It will bring you closer to God.

14. Live one day at a time.

15. Contact me anytime. I would love it. Cancer is unfair and scary and I would love to talk with you about that.

Dave Evans is an attorney from New Jersey.