Tips For Surviving Cancer - From Survivors

by GregP_WN

When you first get diagnosed with cancer and you start to tell your family and friends about it, you start to get a taste of some of the hundreds of things you will be told. Everyone will have tips for surviving cancer. Some of it is positive and supportive, some is negative and should have never been said to you, some of it is plain and simply ridiculous, and most of it comes from people who have never experienced cancer.  

Tips For Surviving Cancer

These people are simply repeating what they have heard or read, a lot of it is misinformation and myths.Be careful about what you listen to and what advice or tips you take to heart., bad information at this point can literally cost you your life. I have a simple rule of thumb about what information or tips I will take from someone. If you haven't been through it yourself, don't try to tell me what's best for me and what will work for me and what won't. I have heard some of the craziest ideas for things that will either prevent cancer, or cure it, from lots of people that have not only never had cancer themselves, but hadn't even had family or friends that had had cancer.

While I appreciate their concern and their good intentions, this is just too important to be throwing around wild, crazy, unproven and in most cases dangerous therapies from people who really have no idea what they are talking about. If you want advice on how to paint a picture, ask an artist. If you want advice on how to build a deck, ask a carpenter. If you want advice on how to get in shape and lose some weight, ask a fitness trainer. If you want advice on how to survive cancer, ask a cancer survivor. 

With this in mind, we asked the WhatNext Community for their tips on how to survive cancer to pass on to the newly diagnosed. These are some of their suggestions.

A 16+ year survivor of pancreatic cancer Russ said, "You must defy with a passion everything this disease tries to do to you. Never ever give up hope." He endured 35 radiation treatments while undergoing chemotherapy 24 hours a day for five weeks. Russ said "It was absolutely brutal, to say the least. I was crawling on my hands and knees during the final couple of weeks. I tell you my story not because I am looking for sympathy, but rather to give you the hope, strength, and courage to move forward during your most difficult times." Read Russ' full cancer story HERE, and watch his video describing his journey HERE.


Lynne-I-Am, a survivor of stage IIIc ovarian cancer, shared her experiences and what helped her, "all these treatments for fighting this disease are scary. I was very scared and nervous also. I did not have radiation but did have six rounds of chemo. It definitely helps to have someone with you during your treatments if possible to help with driving, yes, but also for emotional support as well. After my first chemo, I thought, ok, that is one less, I kept this mindset throughout my treatments. You have to be kind to yourself and take it one day at a time, some days will be better than others. I do not know if this will help you, but it helped me. I carried some pictures of my children, and grandchild with me to my treatments, Even though they could not be there with me, they were there. You can do this."

Cllinda, a survivor of stage II breast cancer offered these tips for getting to the treatment center. "35 treatments sounds like something you can't possibly get through. But, you will. I know when I was told that it would be 35 treatments, my big worry was how to get to the place. I couldn't ask one person to take me every day for that length of time. But I found out the hospital center had a bus service. So the van would pick me up, take me to the place, wait for me, and then bring me home. It was wonderful. And after a couple of weeks, it takes so much out of one that a ride is appreciated. Check into that if you can."

DKatsMeow offered these tips for having radiation on the head and neck area. "It wasn't too bad for me. Tastes buds will be killed or at least diminished. If offered a feeding tube, I suggest you get it. Saliva will get extremely thick. Club soda works for that. Also get the miracle mouthwash. It's a lifesaver. Also, I bought a plastic colander to "practice" with. It helped me to adjust to the idea of that face mask a little. Nothing prepares you for it completely. Ask them to cut out the eyes. That helped too. I am claustrophobic. And I hate having my face covered in any way. Listen to your nurses. They gave me a tube of Meriderm. That is made specifically for the radiation burns. Ask for a tube, it helps also. Listen to your nurses, My nurse was a godsend. Doctors don't tell you anything, but the nurses listen. it wasn't too bad for me. but it is different for each one. I wish you the best of luck. And hope you beat this!"

Mimmi, a stage IV NHL survivor shared these tips about going through R-CHOP. " I also took Probiotics ( high grade) every day, and still do. I took 400 billion / each morning. I cut back to 100 billion / day after I finished chemo..Your food during chemo, especially the first days, 1st and 2nd in particular, won't taste good, it's like the medications play havoc with your taste buds. Eat spicy foods, if you can manage that. I found that anything else just tasted like cardboard...Water even tastes awful. But this doesn't last...It gets better each day...You will be tired. Each chemo adds to this, so I found by chemo number 3 onwards I had to lie down and rest a lot. So you listen to your body. I finished chemo last November and slowly I started to build up my strength slowly daily by doing 5-7 minutes a day of light exercises, slowly increasing this and now I am at the gym 4 days a week/ ..Take it easy, listen to your body ..It'll be fine. I spent about 6 hrs at the hospital because I also needed a spinal tap to check that no cancer had escaped into the spinal fluid/ plus chemo administrated into the spinal fluid...At least here in UK, this goes hand in hand with R-CHOP treatment, at least for patients who have DLBCL....Best of luck."

On how to limit nausea, Rdy2Trvl suggested this, "I took Zofran and also bought queasy pops.... nausea was very can get the queasy pops online....also the center will provide snacks and juice but I usually brought my own that I knew I could tolerate and a good movie on my is not as bad as you think."

On having chemo, what to take with you Schlegel says that "Most infusion centers keep it cool to minimize nausea, so bring a sweater. Also, bring something to do like a book or knitting. I am in a couple writing groups, so I would bring writing materials. You may want to bring a snack or even a sandwich although some infusion centers provide snacks. Keeping a journal during this time may be a good idea. It is therapeutic, and I later converted mine into a book. Chemo is not as bad as everything you've heard. You will do well."

Popper, a stage III colon cancer survivor has tips for during and after chemo: "Some of the side effects can be permanent so speak up quickly. Nose bleeds, neuropathy, numb feet, cold, mouth sores, chemo brain.....oh it's real and then the dreaded lethargy. some days even going to the washroom was an effort. Understand and be prepared that Chemo is cumulative and things will get harder! In saying all this, it doesn't mean that your journey will be the same. Everyone reacts differently to the treatment. Stay well helps wash away things. Drink whatever you can, when you can. Eat what you can, when you can. Above all keep your spirit strong but cry, rant and rave when needed. Light and hugs to you. Remember this site, it helps to know you are not alone."

CAS1 has some tips on easing someone's fear and worry of cancer recurring. "Yes I continue to take a low dose of Ativan and it really helps me sleep. But only time will lessen the fear... One day he will just realize he hasn't thought about cancer for months. This is my favorite line: You can either get busy living or you can get busy dying...Shawshank redemption. So he can use his energy for worry or for living. Maybe talk with a Pastor or whoever is part of your faith because we all have to come to terms that we don't make it out of here alive. I hope this helps.

Eric1059, a stage IV Hodgkin's disease survivor, on the fear of recurrence: "I certainly understand that fear. I still have it, and I have been disease free for 24 years. It did not help that my fears came true with multiple recurrences and may treatments spanning 6 years." Read Eric1059's full cancer story HERE

What Nexter Of The Week Erik1059

Bella2013, a prostate cancer survivor, on the fear of recurrence: "The fear never goes away completely, but you learn to manage how you let or NOT let if affect your life. I took up running in my late 40's ... doesn't work for everyone but it does for me ... find a hobby or project ... keeping your mind busy and off your troubles goes a long way."

More Coping and Surviving Tips

Carool- "If at all possible, get treatment at one of the great cancer-treatment hospitals available"

Kris103-"Be careful about Googling - there is a lot of bad information out on the interwebs."

Russ-."Never give up is the last candle fluttering in the darkness while all the others have gone out."

Ejourneys-"Cherish yourself and cut yourself slack -- fighting cancer is your main job now."

bevaschia-"Take any support when offered by friends and family. You're going to need it."

CAS1-"Set up a Google search for your type of cancer and use different ways to title each item..this will give you new and published information on your type of cancer."

Lynne-I-Am-"Seek out a specialist who treats your specific type of cancer, and consider getting a second opinion"

TXHills-"Bring a friend or digital recorder to each appointment. It is too much information to absorb and remember correctly."

Sue_2015-"Always get a 2nd opinion so that you can have even more information then you got with the first."

LiveWithCancer-"Don't believe most of what you read on the Internet"

Traceypap-"Trust your instincts and don't be intimidated by the doctors."

Rolltidelynne-"Don't get mad at your body, your energy will come back."

dstewart52-"Place an open bible under your pillow at night, it will rest your mind and calm you. Turn all of your worries over to God, talk with God."

laradactyl-"Use your energy to handle what is now, waste none of it on worry about what might be coming up next."

Mika-"Keep away from negative people."

Jesse0218-"If there's something you really, really want to do and you have the energy, go for it. It will pick you up unbelievably and lift your spirits to the sky."

dan7264-"Knowledge is power. Power over fear. Find out as much about your cancer as you can and there will be less to fear."

gonewest-"Love yourself and be compassionate towards yourself like never before."

swfl51-"Courage and Fight for your Life, one hour at a time."

jene1835-"Get yourself a calendar, big enough to write every appointment, upcoming test(s), chemo and radiation dates, and surgeries. Anything that has to do with your newly diagnosed cancer. I have one for each year beginning with 2009. I save them and refer back to them."

diaturtles-"This is the time you have to become your own advocate, if you question your the second opinion, ask questions if you don't understand what they're telling you, bring a friend/family member to appointments so they can write stuff down, your going to get overwhelmed by everything. It's your body and you and only you know what doesn't feel right, tell them ( doctors) and keep repeating it if you have to until someone listens."

BoiseB-"Freeze the water in the bottles and let it slowly thaw. A bottle let thaw for a few hours should provide cold water all night long. Also, the cap will prevent crawly things."

Whitey61-"If I may add to this thread, I joined my local YMCA for the Livestrong program and highly recommend it, exercise x2 weekly and feel very good and energized after a workout, great bunch of people going thru the same illness to share war stories with, as much as cancer is unique to each individual there is a common bond between us all...I could never do this when I was in chemo, but folks there are..I'm in immunotherapy without the toxic effects...bottom line..get your body moving however little, you will be surprised how better you feel."

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Do you have any helpful or inspirational tips to help someone get through surgeries, treatments, recovery and on to survivorship? Please share them in the comments below.

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