Coping with Suffering Health Concerns
A diagnosis from a doctor can seem deafening, everything goes numb, your thoughts race a mile a minute, searching for an answer. Why? Why me? Why is this happening? So many endless questions with no direction or answers. It feels as if a simple word has changed your entire life and the path that was once so clear is now filled with barriers that you will have to climb through. What now?
We must start by creating a road map to take back the power the diagnosis has tried to take away. Prepare yourself, that this road ahead will not be an easy one, but remember it is not an impossible journey.
“A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.”
- Helen Keller
First step on this road map are the emotional responses that one will have to go through. Anger, mortality, grieving your old life, denial, isolation, loss of self (Robinson et al., 2021). All of these different feelings will flood your path. This doesn’t mean that you still can’t pass this point. By allowing yourself to feel these emotions instead of avoiding them, will help you find a way around the flood.
Second step is to know that there might be some obstacles in your path that require help and to know it’s ok to reach out for support. You may feel that you are alone in this journey and that others may not be able to understand what you are going through (Robinson et al., 2021). And many won’t, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t help you climb over a wall that is blocking your path. You are not a burden, you are strong, and that strength will help you to reach out to those around you.
Third step along your journey is to not forget about who you are. Your diagnosis does not define you. Remember who you were before this, what did you used to do? A diagnosis may seem to block all the light from our path, making it impossible to see the next steps, but finding joy in the little things can help bring the sun back into our lives. This could be an old hobby, trying something new, or even take the time to write about what you are experiencing; each new beam of light guiding our path.
Fourth step may be the time in your journey where you start to want to turn back, grieving the hopes and dreams that feel so far away now since your diagnosis. It is natural to worry about what the future may hold but going backwards won’t help you to get closer to your future. Instead of heading backwards, just pause for a moment in self-care. This could be walking in nature, meditation, journaling, or spending time with loved ones. Focus on yourself and what you need right now, in that moment to move forward.
“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”
- Abraham Lincoln
This is not the last step of your path; this is just the beginning. I leave you with one final quote to help you create the next steps of your own journey.
“There are plenty of obstacles in your path, don’t allow yourself to become one of them.”
- Ralph Marston
Vanessa Curry, BSW Intern
Interfaith Community Counselling Centre
Vanessa, the author of this article, is working on her BSW and experienced cancer herself as a child. She has been facilitating the Caregiver Support Group and hopes to have a career working with cancer patients.