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Let's Discuss...your top 3 tips for coping with cancer

A cancer diagnosis can affect much more than the physical body. It can also affect emotions and relationships. Your emotions can be very strong, conflicting or disturbing. They may come and go quickly, and they may change often. For many people, life is not the same after a cancer diagnosis.

If you could provide only 3 tips for coping with cancer what would they be? 
40 Replies
18 Posts
1.  Work with your medical team to have a cooperative approach to your treatment plan.
2.  Get your family and/or friends to be your support group.  Make the support people understand that it is your journey.
3.  When you can, inject a bit of levity.  It really works!
8 Posts
Since I recently went through this I figure that my three things would be:

1. Be as informed as possible so that you don't sit and worry about things you don't know about or after hearing hearsay from well meaning friends. Don't depend too much on the Internet unless it is a reliable source. Speak to a Cancer Navigator (This is the nurse who helps me in Nova Scotia) who can supply a ton of brochures and contacts.
2. Develop a strong support network of friends and family that you know you can depend on. I found some friends upon hearing my diagnosis needed support from me and that wasn't't an option for me.  
3. Be kind to yourself. I've allowed others to help me, given myself permission to relax and focusing on ways to help me cope such as massage, counseling and forums such as this one.

Cheers, Otter
2175 Posts
My top 3 tips would be:

1. I read that it was important to 'be a part of your team and treatment plan.' I initially thought this was ridiculous as it was my doctors who knew about cancer and how to treat it, not me!  I learned though, that our doctors depend on us to tell them what we're feeling, fearing, and concerned about. They really do listen, but they don't know how to help you in ALL aspects of your treatment  unless you communicate with them and ask questions. 

2. Tell your loved ones that you will lose it sometimes. Tears, outbursts, anger. Tell them it's not directed at them, it's just what happens when you're thrown something so devastating and you have no control. Ask them to just listen and try not to fix it. And give them permission to go out and take care of themselves too. Even buy them a gift certificate for a movie or a massage or something to show your appreciation for them. 

3. Tell cancer to go away for the day, or hour, or minute whenever it gets overwhelming. It will still be there when you get back to it. It does not deserve to occupy your thoughts 100% of the time, even though it will try. 
8 Posts
Pray, continuously
Talk, to whoever will listen
Time out, when emotions get too overwhelming
I am the caregiver, my husband has Leiomyosarcoma which has spread from the arm to his lungs. Has his second lung surgery July 16
356 Posts
1. Don’t spend time and energy on wondering “why me” or anger at the medical system for not always living up to your expectations.
2. understand that people, family, friends, co workers just don’t always know how to react, but, generally they are well meaning.  Finding a community, like cancer connections, allows you to express how you feel and know the listeners, readers, “get it”
3. continue to live your life, make plans, set goals.  You don’t get to come back and live your life without cancer, so, adjust your expectations, but find a way to move forward.
33 Posts
1 Trust in God always.
2. Use positive imagination
3. Control of my thoughts and emotions
4. Pray in each moment without ceasing.
Some context for my answers: I haven't started treatment for base-of-tongue cancer yet; it's 3 weeks away.  About 2 weeks into treatment, my swallowing function is going to start to fail, my salivary glands will start to fail, and I'm going to develop multiple painful sores in my mouth.  Eating will become so difficult that there's a good chance I'll need a feeding tube that will be with me for at least 2-3 months.  I'll likely lose around 20 lbs of weight, most of it in muscle, and I could lose more (I'm 180 now).  If I don't work really hard to maintain/regain my swallow function, I could lose some of that functionality forever.
  1. Learn as much about what you have, how it can be treated, and what the side effects are, so that you can make early, educated decisions about how you want to be treated.  
    • Knowledge is power, and I for one hate being powerless.  There have been far too many times in my life where I let others make decisions for me, believing them to be more knowledgeable, and they made decisions that, in the end, were not optimal for me and the way I wanted things to turn out.  In this situation, quality of life is very important to me, and I'll do whatever I can to avoid a feeding tube, to retain my swallow function, and to reduce long-term side effects.
  2. Make dealing with your cancer your primary objective, because you're going to get only one chance to get this right. 
    • Doing projects that need doing around the house have to take a back seat to learning how to ameliorate the side effects you're going to have later on.  My daily schedule now includes things I never worried about before, and I do them because I'll be worse off later if I don't do this now: three 15-minute sessions of doing exercises that will strengthen the tongue, jaw, and neck muscles associated with swallowing; a 1.5 hour session of cycling and weight-lifting to build muscle mass; and taking way more time to increase my food intake from around 2000 calories a day to 4000 of a high-protein diet. 
  3. Don't mope. 
    • My 86 and 90 year-old parents don't need to know yet about all the side effects I'm going to suffer through.  My adult kids don't need to worry about how I'm doing mentally.  My wife, she needs to know how I feel, but it won't help her if I'm dragging around looking morose.  Bad things are going to happen, and that's life; just move on and get it done.
If you're interested, I've been keeping a blog about the questions I've come up against, and how I'm resolving them.  You can see it at https://dealingwithbaseoftonguecancer.blog.  If you, or someone you know, is current dealing with oropharyngeal cancer, you/they might find it useful to follow that blog.

Wishing you all the best of luck,
39 Posts
1.  Knowledge is power for me as well. I spent many hours researching my cancer from reliable sources and that alleviated many of my fears. Cancerconnection.ca was invaluable as I received first hand feedback from people who have already been through the process. 
2.  I power walk at least 40 mins a day and actually look forward to walking. I've been taking Letrozole for 3 1/2 months and believe walking is helping to keep the joint and muscle aches at bay......so far.
3.  I see a very good acupuncturist a couple of times a month. I've arrived at his office feeling quite emotional and always leave feeling calm.  It's always surprising that I feel happy and energized over the next few days even with very little sleep.  This result may be only in my imagination but I'll take whatever positive outcome I can get.
51 Posts
1.  Acceptance, you're in a situation that we all fear.  2.  Acknowledgement, Your treatment team knows vastly more about cancer, treatments and recovery then we could possibly know without going to medical school, internship and years of dealing with people.  3. Fight, do what you have to do, no matter how hard it is.  The quality of our lives might change but life itself is truly a gift.  Keep that fighting spirit and you stand a very good chance of beating it.  Life after cancer is not the same for me, but god I sure "appreciate" it more now.  
698 Posts
My 3 tips for a cancer coping  journey:
1. Decide if you are willing to fight each day at a time, and keep your goals in mind.
2. Be patient with yourself and accept the emotional roller coaster
3. Seek a support system from CancerConnection, friends, counselors, and books on your type of cancer----stay away from other websites!
law (Lisa)
Runner Girl
2730 Posts
My top 3 tips would be:
1. Exercise daily, even if it is just a walk, you don't have to go run a marathon - exercise does the body and mind a world of good.
2. Hydrate well (I found I felt better and had less side effects if I maintained my hydration levels) and feed your body whatever you feel like having - going thru chemo is hard, I admit I did not eat the best foods during that period, I fed my body what it wanted, knowing that when I came out on the other end I could resume my good eating habits.
3. Cultivate a good support system - involve as many people as you can/want as your supporters.  I had lousy support at home but fabulous support from the men in my office (I worked thru all of my treatment) and from some (but not all) of my friends.

Runner Girl - Gayle
156 Posts
wow questions seems simple enough but when I think and begin to type, it is actually a very difficult to answer. but ill try.
1.most important to me was finding a support group. This may come in many forms, Family, friends, neighbors, and support groups found around your community. you cannot deal with this type of illness , by yourself, support can help with questions you have, or justa shoulder to cry on.
2. make yourself part of your cancer treatment team.  don't just sit back and let the dr.do all the question and answers without you totally understanding the treatment plan. Ask questions, lots if needed till you understand. you have to be involved in your treatment
3.Don't let Cancer own you. yes you may have it, but it does not mean that life is over, still try to live your life as normal as possible. Don't sit at home and go into depression. Get out for a walk, lift light weights, go see a movie. try to lead a normal life if you let the cancer own your every thoughts you will never be able to cope with this illness
1. Listen to your medical team and ask clarifying questions.  Make your own decision based on their best advice - at first we were very resistant to surgery but when the oncologists explained the entire process it all made sense and we agreed to surgery - with very positive outcome.

2. Read the Canadian Cancer Society pamphlets and website articles for your cancer type. They are very informative without being alarmist and really help with mental and physical preparation for the treatment process.

3. Choose your own path for sharing health information. We told a very small group initially which gave us support and those friends we chose not to tell gave us the blessing of 'normal' conversation as a diversion to the overwhelming weight of living with cancer. 

542 Posts
For me it has been:
1. knowledge and working with my medical team. Ask questions and know your treatment and what to expect.
2. Be positive - believe you can beat this thing no matter what. I don't look at stats or focus on the negative; yes, I am stage 4 and yes I have had moments of weakness but ultimately those moments are fleeting. I believe in the power of positive thinking.
3. Support network - spouse, family, friends etc are so important to have around - just to give a sense of normal like catching up for a coffee with a friend is powerful. 
31 Posts
Laughter/sense of humour
self care ( rest, eat, rest and rest some more)
Laughter/sense of humour
1545 Posts
My tips are:
1)Understand that it's difficult for you spouse/partner/ caregiver, too. For example, if someone is driving you to the hospital every day for 25 days for your radiation treatments, standing in line to buy a monthly parking pass, trying to find a better route around road construction, that person might be a little grumpy!

2)   If there are some things about your treatment that are really worrying you, ask the doctor/technician if there's an alternative. (For me, it was having a full bladder for radiation).

3) Yes, plan to go walking, do stretching, do normal things like grocery shopping (with spouse) but realize that there could be some days where you are just exhausted, so you can postpone things until another day. 
2 Posts
I was diagnosed with germ cell ovarian cancer while working abroad in the UK earlier this year. The aggressive nature of the tumour meant that I had to remain in the UK for chemo and a de-bulking surgery for the past five months. I recently moved back to Vancouver while I recover from surgery and wait to my next MRI, and I've only really been able to start to process what happened now that I'm home. Now that I have a little bit of space from it, my top 3 tips for coping with cancer would be: 

1. Work to accept that the person you are now is different from the person you were pre-diagnosis, and that's ok. During the most painful and lonely times in the hospital, I would feel myself begin to envy the strong, active and healthy person I was before all of this happened. But I began to realize that the person I was before didn't know the strength I possessed, and I didn't truly know how loved and supported I was by friends and family who have been there for me since day one. Embracing that support system was essential for me. They helped ground me when I felt like I was losing it, and they helped recall happy and important memories that helped give me strength to continue forward. I know I won't be the same person again, but I'm proud of the person cancer is teaching me to become. 
2. Don't be afraid to ask questions. I felt sometimes that my medical team would assume that I was up to their speed when it came to changes in my treatment plan, and this was incredibly discouraging at first. It was also pretty difficult because my cancer is quite rare, so sometimes the medical team didn't have the answers either. Eventually I learned that it was important for my safety, mental health, and wellbeing overall to be included and to ask questions when I felt I didn't fully understand. At the end of the day it's you life, and it's important to feel like you have some control over it. 
3. Give yourself a break. This is what I've been struggling with the most, especially after surgery, but it's important to remember what I've gone through, and what I have still to come. The de-bulking surgery left a foot-long scar down my chest and stomach, so I'm not able to move as well as before, and I'm still in lot of pain. Recovery takes time, getting used to being out of the hospital takes time, and processing this whole experience takes time. Be good to your body and mind. 

Thanks for reading,
255 Posts
1.  Come to terms with your diagnosis ,take the time required to deal with the emotional aspect of your cancer diagnosis but you have to move past this. Realize you can’t change the diagnosis so decide to have a positive attitude and fight with all your energy to control the disease.

2.  Trust your cancer medical team. They may not be telling you what you want to hear and it’s good  to question your diagnosis and treatment until you understand and are comfortable with what your treatment plan but they generally know what is best.

3. Have a special support person, spouse, family or special friend that you can lean on but remain the leader of that support team when you are able then let them lead on your bad days. My person was my husband who I am forever grateful to for how he took over when needed.
30 Posts
Hmmm.... 3 top tips ... I will try to be concise for once.

1. Chase down uplifting books, movies, podcasts, etc., that will make you smile and bring you joy. Watching a laugh-out-loud Marx brothers movie or reading a funny essay really lifted my spirits and helped this natural pessimist keep positive ....

2. Get the information and support you need. I was blessed with a mentor, a friend of a friend who underwent a similar cancer treatment a few years back. We got together quite a few times and she shared her experiences and let me know what to expect. I also found support by reading books like “The Silver Lining,” which chronicled one person’s journey through breast cancer. I went to my local cancer wellness centre, where I took free workshops on everything from painting to meditation. Go to information workshops at your cancer centre. I found the one I went to before starting chemo was extremely helpful. And I dove into the cancer connection site, where I got all kinds of information, support, and the feeling that I was not alone!

3. Remind yourself of all the good things in your life... like the spouse or friend or sister or son or daughter who will sit with you through chemo. Go crazy and make a point of finding the best parts of each day... like the birds singing to you on your daily walk, or the co-workers who send you flowers, or the power failure that only lasted a few seconds!

This cancer stuff really is something you just have to get through. Don’t let it rob you of hope! 

All the best, 

114 Posts
ooh! This is a great question, Lacey_adminCCS‍ ! 

1. remember that Dr Google is not always your friend. While I found knowledge to be power, for me, it is important to use reputable resources for your research, or you are going to drive yourself insane with fear and confusion. It's important for you to work with your medical team, so you have the best understanding you have for treatment, side effects of treatment, how to advocate for yourself. Remember you are likely not to be your best self during this time, so if a trusted loved one / friend / advocate can come to appointments with you to be the one asking questions that you don't understand, that is key. Ask all the questions you need until you understand. take notes. ask if you can record the consultation on your phone to play back to make sure you understand, and get clarification on anything you need. 

2. get a good support system. Friends, family, community resources. Accept that people may not always react in the way you expect  / want them to, and accept that that is on them, not you, the people you thought you could count on can sometimes sadly be the biggest let down in your time of need.  These forums are amazing for support (says me, who has been AWOL for  a few weeks dealing with life stuff, and babysitting 48 girl guides at a week long camp, amazing but exhausting experience I'm still recovering from, lol!!!) The CCS website also has the means for you to search to see what resources are available to you locally. Peer support, via one-one telephone support or a local peer support group can be invaluable too, for making you feel less "alone" 

3. a sense of humour. this might sound a bit bizarre  / unlikely, but having a good sense of humour can get you through some really tough times. Dealing with cancer can be scary as heck, whether you have the best support in the world, or are going it alone. People are going to tell you about the most whackadoodle "cures" on the planet, about that person they know who died / kicked cancer's ass, and send you many many ribbons (and god help you if you have breast cancer, I have never been sent so many pink things in my life, for real) - I already had a pretty sick / morbid sense of humour anyways, and being able to joke about some of the crap can help, it really can. One day we were getting ready to go out somewhere, and my husband said "I'll go take the first shower, my hair takes longer to dry than yours right now", and kissed my bald head as he left the room. I burst out laughing and immediately shared this nugget on facebook - some of my "friends" were horrified he could say such a thing, being able to see the humour can sometimes help a lot and keep your spirits up, even if only for a moment. I'm not saying it's all a laugh a minute, but sometimes you just have the make the best out of a crappy situation. 


1 Posts


1. Talk to another patient/survivor
2. Talk to your family
3. Talk to a friend

A cancer diagnosis can affect much more than the physical body. It can also affect emotions and relationships. Your emotions can be very strong, conflicting or disturbing. They may come and go quickly, and they may change often. For many people, life is not the same after a cancer diagnosis.

If you could provide only 3 tips for coping with cancer what would they be? 

1405 Posts
I found it difficult to limit to only 3, but here goes...
1. Having one person who has had the same cancer that follows you the entire journey, diagnosis through treatment that you can email, telephone and get together in person. 

2. Drive yourself slowly.  Have many small projects to keep your mind occupied away from cancer. Do things that you enjoy.

3.  Be the CEO of your health.  Keep a health binder with test results, questions and answers from doctors,  and a journal to record your thoughts and feelings.  Take it to all appointments to help you with discussions with your doctors.
253 Posts
1.  Educate yourself, but don't let the information overwhelm you.  Gather as much information as possible, so I feel in control.
2.  Share your happy times and the not so happy times with someone, I share with my husband who is so supportive and always gets me back on track.
3.  Look for positive and tell yourself "I GOT THIS"

I totally belief that with the help of everyone, I will be fine.  And if another hurdle is thrown my way, I will conquer.
35 Posts
1. Ask questions.  Write down others as they come to you, and ask them ASAP.  Make notes of the answers.
2. Talk to others who are going through it, or have succeeded, and their family and caregivers..  Cancer.ca is one good source to find them.
3. Remember the support of family and friends.  They are part of your team. 

9 Posts
1.  Trust and do what your doctors tell you
2.  Let family and friends help you when you need it
3.  Trust and pray to Jesus.

1. Learn about your disease and get the facts and make sure you ask lots of questions and be as informed as you can.
2. Except your cancer and make those around you accept it. Then also accept the fact that you choose to beat it. That you choose not to give up!
3. Scream, laugh, cry, hug, smile, eat ice cream or chocolate, see a movie or do whatever you have to but stay focused on the fact that you can do this and you can beat it.
Contemplating the following quotes can help.

😰When it comes to support:
"Family's not always perfect but they make up the pieces that complete our soul.
Gather up your souls pieces and cherish them fully."

👣For living daily life:
"Those who say only sunshine can bring happiness,
have never danced in the rain."

😒The daily fight:
"The deeper your pit of despair, 
the more focused determination it can hold."

ATTITUDE: Attitude = Energy / Energy = Strength / Strength = Attitude!  

13 Posts
I have just finished my chemo and radiotherapy for breast cancer and I'm just about to begin aromatase inhibitor and zometa. 

I hope the following three tips may be helpful 

Don't focus on what you have lost. Focus on what you have got and try to appreciate.

Look at people who stay positive in the midst of much harder situations.

Keep busy trying to make life easier for others.

All the best
1956 Posts
My three would be:

Breathe: in and out every day, preferably outside every day, and even better if you are getting some exercise in whatever form you are up to.

Accept help: from everyone. They don’t know how to help, but if you give them a job they’ll be glad to do it.

Listen to your body: on the good days get out and meet friends, do stuff with family, go grocery shopping etc, on the bad days give your self a break and rest when you need, eat and drink what you need, take the medications you need. It’s ok to spend a few days watching Netflix if that’s all you are up to - your job is to get through your treatment.
320 Posts
thanks to all of you who have given their three best tips...my 3 tips are:
1. take one day at a time
2. live life fully and enjoy even the small things in life 
3. make a special attempt to take good care of yourself

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