In 4 phases I wish to illustrate how one can handle the stress, ambiguity of information and the change in life’s priorities which a cancer patient will face. My approach has been to accept temporary and permanent change with a positive mindset, never to stick to trusted habits but instead adopt a new lifestyle whenever my physical state required it.
I have identified 4 phases which can be initially observed sequentially. However treatments may suddenly stop working due to aggressive nature and intelligence of the Melanoma cells. When that happens, the patient maybe be thrown back to the previous phase when a new treatment need to be found, or, in the worst case, when tumours starts appearing or growing again. - Phase 1 is the traumatic experience of being diagnosed. - Phase 2 covers the period where we studied various treatment options. - Phase 3 is the realisation it is permanent, but there will be a cure. - Phase 4 starts at the moment when I had enough of simply surviving and I wanted to get on my life and enjoy it again.
One can think of it this way: during recovery, the puzzle pieces of your old life gradually start falling back into place, except with different priorities and with less space left over to enjoy life. As you hover over the puzzle of your new life as it is taking shape, you come to realise that the image has changed and so does it’s shape and size. At times it appears like it’s not happening to you, or its not your life you are observing. It can be so surreal at times.
This is the hardest to explain to yourself and to others. When I shared this analogy in the patient support group, I realised that fellow patients immediately understand this comparison. They called it so powerful. That is why it’s so important to get in touch with fellow patients, not to compare your situation with theirs, or to find out how lucky or unlucky you are. No, it is to realise the impact cancer has on your life in order to accept its permanent.
INTRODUCTION - Melanoma doesn’t give you time HOW TO USE THIS FRAMEWORK - Reflection on what impact cancer has - Parallels with other traumatic experiences - Practical advice on how to help a cancer patient THE SHOCKING NEWS - PHASE 1 - Life before and after - Polyp removal, post-op findings and tips SURVIVING DAY BY DAY - PHASE 2 - Starting healthy new habits - Research on treating Melanoma with medicines - New daily rhythm - What we have learned so far - Preparing for tumour removal surgery - Summary of side effects - Proton Beaming Treatment plan - Post-treatment experiences ACCEPTING ITS PERMANENT - PHASE 3 - Immunotherapy preparation - Acceptance of my fate - Opdivo treatment starts - Waiting for side effects ENJOYING LIFE AGAIN - PHASE 4 - Life is not only survival - How to use returning energy - Enjoying good scan results - Side effects are starting - Miracles do happen! - Another birthday - A new beginning - The End Game has begun! POEMS IN THIS BOOK REFERENCES
It’s 10 Jan 2017. I hear my surgeon say: ‘The biopsy results shows presence of Melanoma’. He took my hands and prayed with me. All I knew at that time was that it only affects the skin, so why they found it in the tissue of the removed polyp? At that time it didn’t sound life threatening and I was confident that I would recover soon. I was completely unaware how it would change my life forever. Melanoma however is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, and in a small percentage of cases it affects the mucus in nose, sinus, anus or vagina. It is difficult to diagnose properly as the symptoms of bleeding are usually attributed to many other less critical ailments. ×