• KarenG_WN's Avatar

    KarenG_WN posted a blog post

    8 Tips to Stay Healthy While Traveling

    So often people come back from their holidays joking that they need another holiday to recover, well although they may be joking, all too often holidays and travel, in general, are not as relaxing and restoring as we think. This is especially true if you’re burning the candle at both ends while you’re away having fun. Read on and see our 8 tips to stay healthy while traveling. 

    The excitement builds in the days leading up to your travels, leaving your set routine behind for a week or two and spending time relaxing and doing exactly what you want to. But it can be a double-edged sword, your set routine at home is probably contributing to your ability to stay fit and healthy. Organising healthy home cooked meals and working out on set days is easy once you establish the routine.
    Once you enter holiday mode all of that can easily go by the way-side, and if you’re not careful that can spill over when you return from holiday, denting your fitness progress for months. Travelling regularly for business or pleasure can play havoc with overall health and fitness plan, lack of regular routine combined with delicious local food options means that a little bit of time on the road can have a big effect on your body.
    We have some great tips for you but overarching these little tips there is one big thing that you can do to minimise the ill effects of your holiday, and that is rest. More specifically making sure that you’re getting enough sleep to allow your body to fully recover. Tiredness is regularly linked to feelings of hunger and general lethargy, which are a lethal combination for weight gain and a general decay of health and fitness.
    A plan of attack is all that you need. This handy little infographic by De Vere Hotels gives some highly actionable tips and tactics that you can use to minimize the effects of your travel.

    1. Combine Sightseeing with Fitness to Fit More In – Explore your destination by taking an early morning jog or fast walk, you’ll discover the area in half the time and feel better for it.
    2. Ask the Locals Where to Eat – The most popular restaurants for tourists normally aren’t the healthiest, whereas local eateries may offer healthier options.
    3. Check the Hotel Facilities – Most modern hotels have a gym of some sort, failing that prepare an equipment-free workout that you can do in your hotel room or on the beach.
    4. Drink Up - Water That Is! – It’s easy to forget this 101 tip while you’re busy enjoying yourself, drinking water will help you stay in top shape and avoid hunger pangs from being dehydrated.
    5. Fail to Prepare & Prepare to Fail – If you don’t do at least a little bit of meal pre-planning you’ll likely end up overindulging, planning your lunches as a minimum is normally an easy win.
    6. Remember the Snacks – Bulk buy healthy snacks when you arrive to stop yourself from buying the local crisps and other unhealthy offerings.
    7. Always take your Kit with You – Your workout kit only takes up a tiny amount of space, so there is no excuse for not taking it with you.
    8. Choose an Active Holiday – You might convince yourself you’ll stay fit on a beach holiday but it probably won’t happen. Booking an adventure holiday will make sure you stay nice and active.
    Do you have any tips for keeping health, and dealing with cancer when traveling? Please post them in the comments below. 
    See more tips for coping with cancer on our website here>>www.WhatNext.com

  • KarenG_WN's Avatar

    KarenG_WN posted a blog post

    Cancer Leaves a Mark

    Cancer leaves a mark, in many ways. There are the inevitable scars from surgery, bruises from injections or treatments, skin burns and peeling from radiation, and then there are the mental scars, the flashbacks when you smell something or hear something, and even PTSD that never seem to go away. The average person on the street doesn't know or understand all of the ways that we are marked for life by cancer, because as many survivors say, "you can't understand it if you haven't been through it".

    In a recent discussion on WhatNext, here's how a few people described how cancer has left a mark. Read through these and tell us if you can relate to any of these statements. 
    Carool  - "Yes, both mental and physical scars. Very small lumpectomy scar on my breast and a small scar around my armpit from the sentinel node biopsy and these scars are nothing to me. Mental scars are larger: increased bodily vigilance; anxiety; Doomsday feelings at times. I still rerun in my mind my treatment scenes and other cancer-related experiences (PTSD?). So, yes, it certainly did leave scars."

    IH25 says, "Yes, I will have scars. One on my chest from the port placement and removal. A couple on my abdomen from surgery. 4 tiny blue dots I can see if I look hard."

    Cancer leaves a mark on our bodies, but also intrudes into our lives and leaves a mark on them. Most survivors say that they can never get back to what "normal" used to be. Now, we just call it the "new normal". 
    Live With Cancer said, "Sure, there may be a small literal scar where my port is, but mostly cancer has left a mark on my life. My life is definitely changed in nearly every way. Most, not in bad ways, just different ways."

    Molly72 describes how she has been marked - "Lots of scars, one large & deep shark-bite on my arm is the worst looking. Others that still hurt on my legs. One on my neck that had the nerves cut & I can't stand to be touched on my jaw & ear, one ugly one on my nose, so many others......! Not badges of courage as I have read before, just reminders of cancer battles."

    Some cancer survivors say that they have scars that are barely noticeable, but still, they know that they are there. Each time she sees them "Beechbum5817" is reminded of all that she went through during treatment and a mastectomy surgery. She says she has both marks and scars. "I have both, and I always will. I am just thankful that my scars are better looking than I thought that they would be. Before my double mastectomy, the only time I had ever seen a mastectomy scar had been on the cover of either Time or Newsweek back in the late 70's. It showed this woman with the ugliest, jagged looking scar that I had ever seen. That was what I thought that I would look like. Thankfully, they do a better job now. The marks that bother me the most are the tattoo dots that I can see. I can't find all of them, but one always catches my eye. I never wanted a tattoo, so this I hate the most."

    PaperPusher describes how cancer is leaving marks and scars on her Husband's body while marking their lives at the same time. "There are physical scars from the removal of his RLL that are added to his list of scars from other injuries that are mostly sports related. But it's the mental scars that have left their mark the most on both of us-him more so than me. He told me during treatment that he was going to have PTSD from it and he's right. He can't see a scanner on TV without his stomach doing flip-flops. He gets anxious anytime he has a doctor's appt and more so with his oncologist which is to be expected. I drive him to his appts if he has to walk very far since he gets too Short Of Breath. That alone makes him more anxious but he's never liked my driving. lol He gets confused more easily and has problems with word retrieval that are getting progressively worse. Sometimes the TV remote confounds him or trying to get to the Caller ID on the phone. His cancer loves to go to the brain and he hasn't been able to have a brain MRI bc his kidneys were too damaged from the chemo. So since he's had a prior stroke we don't know what's what. The sense of vulnerability is there too. He used to be so social and he's not anymore. Him recognizing that he's having memory problems and can't drive as far as he used to are sad for both of us. He made a bucket list during treatment and most of it is falling by the wayside. ~Sigh~

    One invisible mark that cancer leaves you, is the fact that your life is permanently changed. Janet Springer says, "Yes, I have scars from surgeries. I have one huge scar that is thankfully covered by my hair. There are invisible scars from the ordeal. But scars are the result of the healing process. One doesn't have cancer without it leaving a mark. For better or worse, I was permanently changed."

    SteveG describes how cancer has left a mark on his family and the way his Grandchildren see him now with his scars. "I have both physical and mental scars. I have two belly buttons. What is most noticeable is that my eyes no longer match and my right eye sees no better than it looks. Nobody seems to notice several inches of skin cancer scars on my face due to three Moh's surgeries or that my nostrils don't match. I am 65 and the youthful attitude of indestructibility that I once had is long gone. My reaction to these extra years is to be cheerful and helpful and to keep myself in shape. I chase my six grandchildren for hugs and kisses. I went through the loss of my parents and two cancers to get these grandchildren and I treasure them because I did not get them for free and I don't know how long I will have them. Before I got the first of my two cancers, I used to turn off the radio between Thanksgiving and Christmas because I found the Christmas music too giddy. I guess that's the word. Now I am so giddy to have survived another year that I wish they would keep playing the music after Christmas and even found a channel on TV that does."

    Despite all of the marks and scars cancer leaves, most survivors will tell you it's a small price to pay to have gone through all of this and are alive to enjoy the rest of what life has to hold. MSESQ describes it like this, "I have three small scars, two from my port and 1 from my lumpectomy. A small price to pay for my life. Emotional scars? I think about recurrence once a week or so but other than that nothing. The positives are that I endured something I never thought I could and emerged stronger for it."

    Some people say that even though their scars are both large, small, some deep and some shallow, they will fade with time. LilMom says, "The first scar I got from on my face is from skin cancer. The scar runs from the corner of my eye to nearly the corner of my mouth. That was my first dance with cancer. At first, the scar was deep and easily seen (I had over 10 stitches). I tried to hide it with makeup, but it would always smudge off and leave this scar even more noticeable. So many people and students would ask me about my scar. It's been over 5 years and the scar is barely noticeable. So much so, I often forget it even exists. I think that is figurative of my skin cancer too. I often forget to mention it in my medical history (this ominous thing that once hijacked my life). I now have a huge scar where my breast once existed. It's like a hole in my chest (figuratively speaking). I believe in time this scar too shall fade into the past as I go forward with living my life."

    Created says that she sees her scars as medals instead, "Scars, maybe. On my tummy and breast. They took the 'ugly' out. I'm left with medals. Each time I see one, I realize how truly precious and brave I am."

    How has cancer left a mark on you or your life? Please share in the comments, the more people that read your experiences, the more people that will see that it's normal to have scars, and marks. 

  • KarenG_WN's Avatar

    KarenG_WN posted a blog post

    The Positive Side of "Pinktober"

    For those in the cancer community, October doesn’t mean Halloween, or football, or changing leaves. October means “Pink,” and the big push for breast cancer awareness.

    Of course, by mid-month, you’d truly have to be living under a rock to be unaware of the Breast Cancer awareness push – whether you’re in part of the cancer community or not. It’s inescapable. From 3rd grade to the pros, football players don pink socks or gloves. Pink ribbons festoon local stores and municipal buildings. Pink themes are hash-tagged, and Breast Cancer awareness posts appear on nearly everyone’s Facebook and Instagram pages.
    Without question, the “pinking” of October has made breast cancer awareness the gold standard of disease awareness programs. And many of those in the WhatNext community believe that while “Pinktober” has its flaws and shortcomings, the focus it puts on cancer patients and the search for a cure continues to have an overall positive effect.
    WhatNexter BarbarainBham wonders “what could be wrong with promoting awareness of early diagnosis saving lives, getting mammograms, and funding for research and need patients?”

    And to a large degree, BarbarainBham is correct about the largely beneficiary dividends of the Pinktober push. Though the move towards a cure still seems to be going at a snail’s pace, Pinktober has certainly made a positive impact on early detection of breast cancer. Mammography centers all over the country routinely see a spike in the number of women seeking breast cancer screenings during October.
    “It definitely helps raise awareness,” writes LiveWithCancer from the WhatNext forums. “If there is a woman alive who doesn’t know about breast cancer screening, she has lived in a total bubble.”

    Breast Cancer survivor Nancy Stordahl who runs the blog “Nancy’s Point: A Blog about Breast Cancer and Loss,” writes that October is “an opportunity to reach a few more people out there who might be willing to listen to more than media hype or cheering pink crowds … I think more and more people are listening to the broader meaning of what true awareness is and is not. At least I hope so.”

    Yet an increasing segment of the cancer community views Pinktober with cynicism and disdain. So much so that it seems as though those on the “pro” side of the debate are increasingly in the minority. But even the “pro” camp has its criticisms.
    “Pinktober doesn't particularly bother me, but the selling of everything pink and so little money going to the cause is ridiculous,” writes WhatNexter Karen1956, adding that “if Pinktober helps one woman get screened its good. Just let's stop the pink vacuums, mixers, fried chicken boxes, etc.”

    Ejourneys from the forums has an interesting take on the perceived “negatives” of Pinktober; she thinks they can actually turn into a positive. “Little by little, the backlash against the more superficial and craven aspects of Pinktober make it into the mainstream media,” Ejourneys writes. “Which can in turn help focus attention on resources like Charity Navigator and general research needs.”

    BarBarainBham is a breast cancer patient herself and wonders what motivates the “anti-Pinktober” crowd. “Maybe some people are Negative Nellies,” she writes. “Those of you who have complaints about money for research need to realize that October is about much more than research. There are many uninformed and needy women who need to be reached and encouraged to have mammograms. Cancer treatment for the needy is another goal.”

    “It gets more women to the doctor for a mammogram,” agrees LiveWithCancer, who is herself a lung cancer patient. “I would think it offers some hope to newly diagnosed. It creates a community. Without a doubt, it raises lots and lots of money.”

    However, there is some concern about “pinkwashing” during Breast Cancer Awareness Month– that’s when a company promotes or sells a Breast Cancer Awareness product, but then never actually donates the money. It’s a despicable way to drive company sales for the month, and dupes consumers into believing they’re contributing to the cause – but in reality, they’re just adding to a company’s bottom line.
    To keep a positive outlook on the Pinktober efforts, you might want to visit ThinkBeforeYouPink.org, a nonprofit project associated with Breast Cancer Action (bcaction.org) that calls for more transparency and accountability in breast cancer fundraising.

    Like it or hate it, there's no denying that the whole "Pinktober" movement does draw attention to breast cancer, and in turn, other cancers. It also raises an enormous amount of money for "awareness" and research. Much of the criticism of the pink movement is that to much money goes to "awareness" and not to research to find a cure. But as time goes on, much of the movement is beginning to realize this and more money is being funneled into research. 
    Those patients with stage IV breast cancer are particularly critical of the pinkwashing of October. Those with metastatic breast cancer are painfully "aware" of breast cancer and are fighting for their lives. They want new treatments or a cure, not awareness. 
    What’s your take on thinking pink? Comment below and let us know.

  • KarenG_WN's Avatar

    KarenG_WN posted a blog post

    5 Tips for Coping With a Rare Cancer

    Anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer understands the sinking feeling and paralyzing fear that quickly sets in. Your mind races through treatment options and side effects, and you become fixated on how you and your family are going to cope with the uncertainty to come.

    For people who have been diagnosed with rare cancers, that fear and uncertainty can become compounded by feelings of isolation. Patients with rare types of cancer often find it difficult to get information, locate a specialist, and connect with others who are going through the same thing. They may have to travel quite a distance to a qualified treatment center, leaving behind their support network of family and friends.
    If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a rare cancer, you should know that you are not alone.
    What Is a Rare Cancer?
    There is no globally agreed-upon definition for a rare cancer. However, the National Cancer Institute considers a cancer rare if there are fewer than 15 cases per 100,000 people annually. (Compare this to 123 cases per 100,000 people annually for the most common types of cancer, breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men, according to the American Cancer Society.) 
    Rare cancers are not necessarily obscure diseases that patients have never heard of, for example, breast cancer in men, non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children, and mesothelioma. However, when patients receive such a diagnosis, the shock of finding out they are part of such a small group can be particularly distressing.
    It’s Time to Take Action
    No person’s journey with cancer is easy. But those who are diagnosed with rare cancers shouldn’t feel like they are on this journey alone. Here are several actions you can take to fight off feelings of isolation and uncertainty:
    - Arm yourself with information. Although you can’t trust everything you read on the Internet, this mode of information-gathering provides cancer patients with a powerful tool for understanding their rare disease. Start with the basics, such as information from the National Institutes of Health Rare Cancers database. Look for new research and studies on the disease, promising clinical trials, and foundations or support groups specific to your type of cancer. Blogs can also be a great source of personalized information that can help you understand what others in the same situation are doing to combat their illness and stay emotionally healthy.
    - Be open with your doctors about your emotional health. Your healthcare team is there to support you, and they understand that cancer doesn’t just affect your physical health. Your doctor may be able to give you helpful tips for fighting off depression or feelings of loneliness, or he or she may refer you to a counselor who can help you process your feelings. 
    - Seek out support. You may not know of anyone who has gone through what you are going through, but support is out there. Look for organizations that offer online support groups or discussion forums where you can talk to others who can truly relate to your journey. And don’t feel limited by your type of cancer. If there is a local support group where you can meet other patients with other types of cancers in person, try it out. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to lean on family and friends. They may not understand what you’re going through, but they can still support you through it.
    - Write down your feelings. Sometimes when you feel like you have no one to talk to, it can help to write down your feelings in a journal or, if you want to share, in a blog. Documenting your journey like this can also help you look back and realize that you have had good days along with the bad.
    - Take it one step at a time. Especially with the extra challenges that patients with rare cancers face, life can get overwhelming. Try to tackle each challenge as it comes, rather than get wrapped up in what lies ahead. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Although rare cancers may get less attention, people with rare cancers should not. No matter what type of cancer you have been diagnosed with, the fact is that we are all in this together. You are not alone. If you have been diagnosed with a rare cancer, please share your story in the comments. The more we talk about these less common cancers, the more awareness, and support we can create.
    Are you fighting a rare cancer? What type is it, and how are you doing with it? Please comment below, your answers will help others know that they are not alone. 
    Our Guest Blog Post today is from Hannah Bessinger, she is a writer based in Raleigh, NC. She earned an MFA in writing from North Carolina State University, and she continues to be obsessed with the power of story in everyday life. She enjoys writing about all things health and fitness related and is an advocate for stopping the stigma that surrounds mental illness. In her free time, she loves to hike, read, and play with her pet parrot.
    You can connect with her on Twitter @hannahbessinger

  • KarenG_WN's Avatar

    KarenG_WN posted a blog post

    Don't Know What to Say to Someone With Cancer? Send a Text of Support

    When you're diagnosed with cancer people are shocked, they don't know what to say, some people won't say anything, while others will say things that are rude or insensitive. Try not to take it personally, they are just trying to come up with something to say. We have found that a large number of our WhatNexters would appreciate loved ones checking in on them by text as good as a telephone call or even as much as stopping by.

    A text is quick, and it eliminates that awkward moment when the person asks the patient "how are you doing" since apparently, that's the #1 thing that people think of to say or ask. A lot of people will be concerned, but still don't like to be face to face with a loved one or acquaintance and talk about their cancer and their condition. It's awkward for the patient as well as for the friend or loved one. 
    So how about a text? Really? Is that personal enough? Most of the community at WhatNext agree that a thoughtful text in the morning from someone letting them know that they are thinking about them is comforting. An email can lift their spirits too and the love and support can be delivered in a little more detail. 
    How many mornings have you woke up in a panic because today is the day you have to go have a scan or get test results, have surgery or one of the other 100's of things that can make your heart race and blood pressure rise? Have you ever felt comforted with a text, call or visit from someone? Here are some suggested texts that might comfort someone you know with cancer. 
    1) "I don't know how you feel, but I will always be here for you if you need me."

    We cancer patients always hear people say, "I know how you feel". Trust me, you don't. So drop a line to someone and let them know you are there, simple as that. Knowing that others are there for us if needed and are thinking about us is comforting. 
    2) "How is your appetite? I'm going into town, what can I bring you to eat"?

    Cancer patients will often either not have an appetite to eat or have side effects like nausea or a sore throat that make eating difficult. Also, our taste changes and sometimes what we used to love to eat doesn't taste right, so don't assume we will like it today. Drop them a line and ask what they feel like eating, instead of just saying "can I get you anything". Often times a cancer patient feels like they are being a pain by asking others to do things for us. If you word it in a way that makes it seem like it's no trouble, they may be more willing to accept your kind deed.
    3) "Can I go with you to your (appointment/scan/surgery/treatment/etc) today"? 

    Most cancer patients like to have someone with them at these important events, and most of the time we have someone. But lots of patients don't have anyone, or it may be a hardship for a family member to take off work repeatedly to accompany their patient to these events. Offering to be there would be a huge help for many cancer patients. Again, it's all in the way you ask it. If you ask "do you need someone to go with you tomorrow"? This will lead to them saying no, I don't need anyone, but most cancer patients would like someone to go with us. 
    By letting them know that you will be there, in some cases regardless if they say they do want us or don't want us, will give them an easy way to say yes, I need you. 
    4) "I mowed your lawn today, you relax this afternoon"

    One great text to send is to not ask them a question but to simply tell them what you have done for them without them asking for it to be done. Like,  someone doing something for us that wasn't asked for is a warm and comforting feeling. 
    Related Post 23 Nice Things You Can Do For Someone With Cancer

    5) "I am praying that God will heal you soon, I love you so much!"

    For the prayerful type, a simple message like this will be welcomed. It's simple, quick, powerful and requires no reply.
    6) "Remember, you have survived 100% of the things life has thrown at you so far. You got this too"! 

    When we get the diagnosis of cancer, many of us immediately start thinking about our demise. We start thinking about our life so far and what we are going to miss by not being here. Our mortality is a constant thought, often followed by anger and depression. We can certainly use a boost of positive vibes to get us out of the funk and back on the path of thinking positive. 
    7) "You are one of the strongest people I know"

    Every cancer patient will have points in their treatment when they don't know if they can take it any longer. Very few are lucky enough to breeze through the entire journey with no serious side effects that make them ask themselves if they can do it. A simple positive text may be just what we need at that point in our journey, on that particular day. 
    8) "I ran across this cancer support website you might want to check out"

    Don't be pushy, and don't offer crazy alternative treatments and so-called cures that you may run across on the internet. We need to focus on our plan of treatment and not get our hopes raised by snake oil type treatments that are untested, unproven and in lots of cases dangerous. We don't need someone to make us doubt that our treatment plan is questionable.
    And of course, you can remind them that they can connect with others that are going through the same thing as they are at WhatNext. 
    9) "I would love to drop by and see you tomorrow, what time can I stop by"?

    It's all in how you phrase the question, asserting that you are stopping by tomorrow and the only question is when will let them have an easy way of accepting your visit. Remember it's not that we don't want to see our friends and relatives, it's just that sometimes we are feeling bad, might not like the way we look or don't want our cancer intruding on your lives. 
    10) "What can I bring you" A perfect follow-up to number 9. 
    Since you are coming anyway, they might not see it as an inconvenience to you to ask that you bring a gallon of milk and some bread. 
    11) "I will do a load of laundry for you while I'm there"

    One more follow-up to the follow-up would be to offer to do something for them while you're there. Again, don't ask, just do. If you ask if you can do the laundry will probably be met with NO. But they probably really wouldn't mind. When they are spending most of the day on the couch just trying to not get sick, things like laundry and vacuuming are not a high priority. 
    12) "I am picking up the kids for you today"

    This may be something that has to be worked out ahead of time with the school to allow a friend to pick up the kids if so you might take the initiative to call the school and ask them what needs to be done to make it possible for you. 
    13) "How did it go today"?

    Assuming that you weren't able or didn't go with them to their treatment or procedure, send a text asking how it went. Many times a cancer patient will not talk about the things we are going through for fear of feeling like we are always making the conversation about us. 
    they don't want to be the one that brings it up all the time. But, if you ask, then it's easy to talk about it. There might be something that they would really like to get off their chest or ask someone else about it. 
    14) "Look what (spot/fluffy/muffin-insert your pet's name here) did today"

    Cancer patients still like to see funny or silly things that might give them a laugh. They have cancer, they didn't get a "humorectomy". A good laugh may be just the medicine they need today. You might even send a link to a funny video. Believe it or not, patients don't want to think about cancer 24/7. 
    Related post - 10 Things Cancer Patients Love to Hear

     15) "When you're done with all this, we are going here again"

    This message with an attached photo of the two of you at a previous event or vacation or night out will lift their spirits and give them something to look forward to after the treatments are done. 
    Cancer patients want your support, they love to hear from those they love so don't slip away into the darkness during this terrible time in their lives. Your helpful things will be much appreciated, even when they insist that they don't need them. (they do). Be there, but don't be overbearing, try to find a balance to fit with your loved ones current need for support, contact, and assistance. It's not an easy thing to determine but do your best to figure out what you can do for them that would be most needed and appreciated. 
    Sometimes calling or texting their spouse, child or other friend or family member can be a great source of ideas for things to help them with. The bottom line on helping a cancer patient, be there, do what you can, and please don't disappear. 
    If you're a cancer patient, what are some great texts or acts of kindness that you loved or were helpful? Please share in the comments below. 

  • KarenG_WN's Avatar

    KarenG_WN posted a blog post

    12 Hard Truths About Having Cancer

    When you hear the words that you have cancer, lots of things change. Some of them won't be that bad, but a lot of them will straight up suck. Saying that your life will never be the same again isn't a stretch. It's not ALL going to be terrible, but here are 12 hard truths about having cancer. 

    1) Your Old Life Is Gone - From the time of your diagnosis until you're done with treatment and move on into survivorship, things will not be the same. Some people lose their jobs because of having to be going to treatment, having surgeries, and all of the other stuff that comes with a diagnosis. Some of your friends will disappear, just like that, poof. Your body is going to change, some will be physical changes and some will be visible changes. People may look at you funny, or stare at you, you may not be able to do the things you used to, you may lose strength that doesn't come back. 
    The upside.....Not everyone will experience all of these, or they may not be as bad as some people experience them. We all respond to cancer treatments differently, and we all have different diagnoses. Cancer looks different on everyone. 
    2) You Could Lose Your Job - While there are legal issues around a Company firing someone simply because they have cancer, many people have reported that after they were told that there would be "no problem" with them having cancer and getting treatments, at some point after that, they were let go. Most of the time for any number of reasons supposedly not associated with having cancer. Reasons are given range from too much absenteeism to inability to perform the duties required. The bottom line is, if they want to get rid of you, they can find a reason.
    The upside....Not all employers are buttheads. The vast majority of them will be happy to work with you and help you through it. Depending on the size of the company and its visibility in the community, they may find that positive public press in letting it be known that they are behind you and supporting you. That's far better than getting some viral negative press for being the company that fired a cancer patient. 
    3) Some of Your Friends Will Disappear - Why? We don't know, some say because they can't handle it. What?? We are the ones with cancer, not them, so what's the deal? Some of your best friends will express their sorrow for your diagnosis and declare their loyalty and tell you "just let me know if you need anything", never to be heard from again. It's an actual phenomenon, with various reasons or theories for it. Don't let this get to you, it's going to happen, but it's not your fault or your problem, it's theirs. 
    The upside....You will find new friends that understand where you are because some of them will be where you are. You will meet people at the hospital, treatment center, doctor's office and even in the grocery store that will see that you are a cancer patient, (sometimes it's painfully obvious), they will approach you and start a conversation, the next thing you know, you have a new friend. In other cases, support and friendship have come from unexpected places and people. I had competitors of my business offering to help with our jobs to be sure our company kept up with our work schedule. Other people that I hadn't seen or heard from in years called or stopped by. It's a trade-off.
    4) Cancer Can be Financially Devastating - Let's face it, one of the worst side effects of cancer can be the financial one. Treatments are expensive, and some of the newest ones have an astronomical cost. One of the newest immunotherapy drugs just approved for use is reported to cost $475,000.00 per treatment. Who can afford that? Most drugs are covered by insurance if you have it, but still, others are considered experimental, and others have to be pre-approved before you can have it. 

    There are more than 643,000 personal bankruptcies filed each year with 62% being due to medical expenses. 
    The upside.....Most facilities, hospitals, doctor's offices and treatment clinics will work with you to help pay what your insurance doesn't pay, if you have insurance. And there are lots of resources available for financial help, look at these related posts for financial resources. 
    Many people have reported getting help from their Church, the Social Worker at the hospital where they were treated and from drug companies. We have several resources listed here. Not everyone will file bankruptcy or lose everything they have. 
    5) Loss of Weight/Gaining Weight - As if having cancer isn't bad enough, one of the side effects from some drugs is weight gain. Some patients gain a lot of weight and even look bloated, as if you have been pumped full of air. You have worked for years to keep weight off and now with dealing with cancer you have no time to work out and the meds cause you to gain. This one sucks twice as bad.
    Not all people gain weight. You might think this is great! But looking like an emaciated person that might be from a third World Country isn't any better. Some of the side effects from treatments are sores in your mouth and throat which make swallowing extremely painful. Couple this with constant nausea and you have a great weight loss program. The only problem is that most people don't just lose that 10# that you would like to lose. Many will lose 40 or 50 pounds. I lost this much weight in 3 different diagnoses. In addition to losing my hair. When you can see the joints in your skull and your clothes are hanging off of you like a stick manican, your appearance is changed so much that some people don't even recognize you. 
    The upside.....Not everyone will experience this weight issue. Some people report losing just a little bit, and then after treatment is over, their eating habits had changed and they were able to keep the weight off. Having cancer is not the weight loss program I would want to sign up for again, but for some, it worked out.
    6) Being a Caregiver For a Loved One is the Hardest, and Most Rewarding Thing You Will Ever Do - You might think that being a caregiver to someone that has cancer wouldn't be that tough. You would think wrong. Pick any of your loved ones and just imagine that they have been given a diagnosis. It might be one of the "so-called good cancers", or one of the famously serious types like pancreatic or lung cancer. Now imagine that something is trying to kill that loved one and there's nothing you can do about it. You are not in control. You can't make it go away. All you can do is be there to offer your loved one something to eat or drink, get them a cover, turn the TV up or down, take them to the doctors' visits or treatments, etc. You cannot take away the pain, you cannot make things go back to being like they were last month, before this awful thing came to visit. 

    If your loved one is lucky enough to have a treatable type of cancer that has not progressed to a late stage diagnosis, you might be able to see the end goal in sight through treatment. They might go through all of the surgery, treatments, miscellaneous procedures and come out of it in relatively good shape. But all of us are not that lucky. Those that are diagnosed with a terminal diagnosis are some of the most heartbreaking cases you will ever see.
    In caring for someone with a terminal diagnosis, you have lost all control, all you can do is watch them slowly decline while going through severe periods of pain and some of the most humiliating and humbling things they have ever experienced in their life. You are the one that will have to provide all forms of comfort that they will receive during the last months or days of their life. Taking care of their episodes of lost bodily functions, throwing up, spilling what food or drink they may actually try to consume, and more, are things that you never thought you would have to do in your life. But there is nothing you can do, but try to keep them comfortable, and try to contain your own horror, grief and worry so not to let them see how bad things are. Your job is to be the one who is upbeat, positive and make things as good as they can be. 
    You will hear people talk about doing certain things in life that they call "hard". There is nothing harder than sitting on your parent's bedside during the last minutes of their life holding their hand while telling them it's OK to let go, while they take their last breath.
    I have had to do that twice. It breaks the suck meter. 
    The upside...You would think that there couldn't be any. But there are. Being able to give your parents some of the most basic of life-sustaining things, like food and water, when they are unable to, and just like they did for you when you were a child, is a rewarding experience. 
    While most people will tell you that they would gladly trade anything up to and including their own life to be able to save their loved one, they will also tell you that being able to be there for them and take care of all of their smallest needs during this point in their life, was also one of the most rewarding things they have ever done. 
    7) People Will Suggest Crazy Things for You to Try - You will, without a doubt run across people that will tell you that they have heard of a surefire cure for your cancer. They will tell you about something that they "heard about" that cured someone that they knew. Of course, they have never had cancer or taken whatever snake oil they are trying to convince you to take, but they know it will work. You will not want to hurt their feelings so you will just sit and listen to their suggestions while thinking to yourself that there's no way you're going to do these stupid things they are suggesting. All the time just praying that the treatment protocol that your doctor has you on is going to work. 
    Some of your closest friends and even your relatives will do these things, while others will seem to ignore you and avoid you. You will have people even blame you for you having cancer. There will be the inevitable questions like, how long did you smoke? What have you been eating all your life? Have you never exercised? Where do you live, on top of a toxic dump? Just expect these types of statements or questions and when you hear them, try to remember that these people just don't know any better. 
    Those same people will inadvertently say hurtful and insensitive things to you. Try not to get mad at them, they can't help it. For some, they just open their mouth and things come out. In most cases, they just don't know what to say. 
    8) The Mental Issues Will be Tough - We go through stages, denial, anger, rage, why me, depression. All of these feelings are normal for a newly diagnosed person to have. You were in the middle of enjoying a great life, then the next day, just like that, it's all gone. I spent a month before Christmas sitting around dwelling on the thought that since this was my third diagnosis, I was surely a goner. I was given the diagnosis and the raw numbers that less than 50% make it past five years without a recurrence. And the survival rate for past 5 years was low. I was convinced that I wouldn't make it to the next Christmas.
    People around me were all happy and enjoying their Christmas shopping and full of the Holiday spirit. Maybe because I was feeling so low, it only seemed like everyone else was living the dream while I was dying. But that's how it felt. This depression phase was the lowest point mentally for me out of all three of the diagnoses I have had. 
    The upside....Things change, feelings change, depression can be defeated. With help and support from your relatives, friends and loved ones, you can persevere.
    9) Chemo Side Effects May be Debilitating - Some people experience terrible side effects from chemo. There are hundreds of types of chemo and we all take it differently, some of us take it the worst. I would get treatment at 8 in the morning, and by 10, I would be at home, in front of the toilet getting sick for hours, followed by sleeping for two days. Some people have violent reactions to the chemo which puts them in the hospital taking other drugs to offset the effects of the chemo, that was supposed to be saving us. 

    The upside......Not all chemo drugs have side effects, and not all patients react badly. I had two types of chemo ABVD and MOPP, one made me violently ill, the other had almost no side effects at all..
    10) Radiation Side Effects Can be Just as Bad - Some cancer patients have severe side effects from chemo and not many at all from radiation. During my first diagnosis, the chemo was pure hell while the radiation was a breeze. So during my third diagnosis when they told me that I would only have radiation because my type of cancer would not respond to chemo, I thought it was going to be a breeze again. I was wrong.
    The radiation itself is not tough to do. You simply lay down on a cold hard table and be still for a few seconds while the machine shoots radiation into the area where your cancer is. The side effects come from the cumulative effects of the radiation. Sores start to develop in the treatment area, blisters on your skin, fatigue sets in, and more. In my case, I lost all of my teeth, saliva glands and have severe damage to the carotid arteries in my neck. This side effect led to my having a TIA a few years after radiation was over. Most people will lose their sense of taste if treated about the head and neck. While most will eventually regain their sense of taste, some do not. Others will regain it, but it will be different. Some of the foods you used to like will now not taste good to you. 
    The upside....Not everyone will have the most serious side effects. We all take treatments differently, and you may not have these problems. Still, while radiation can be tough, most survivors will say that they felt that it was easier than chemo. 
    11) The Treatments Leave us Susceptible to Future Cancers - When I left my doctor's office after treatments for my second diagnosis was done, he told me in a blunt statement that if cancer ever comes back again, that it will be "difficult to control". And he also explained that while the treatments that I had just endured most likely saved my life, they also damaged certain parts of my body and those areas are now more susceptible to either a recurrence or a totally new type of cancer. Those who are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed at a very early age, like a childhood cancer, will have to live the rest of their life waiting for the other "cancer shoe" to drop, which means living their entire life waiting and wondering. 
    The upside......That's easy You're Alive!! I will gladly trade the possibility of having a fourth cancer at some future point in my life for the privilege of being alive right now.
    12) You Will Always Wonder if it's the Next One - Anyone who has been through a diagnosis will tell you that every time they have a pain or an issue with any part of their body, the first thing that comes to mind is "what kind of cancer is it this time"? After having one, two, three or more cancer diagnoses, you will always be wondering if this is it. You will be reluctant to go to the ER to get something checked out, but with your history, you have to. Most of the time it will be nothing, and now you have another batch of medical bills to pay. But a cancer survivor just can't take the chance. If you let something go to the point that if it is cancer, and it has progressed, it may not be able to be controlled. That fear, worry, apprehension will always be with you.
    The upside.....Again, you're alive. You've been through it all, the not so good, the bad and the ugliest of things that can be thrown at you, and you're still standing, if you're one of the lucky ones. If so, enjoy life! It's too short not to.
    What hard truths have you learned from having cancer or being a caregiver for someone who has? Please share in the comments below.