Dealing With A Loved One’s Cancer Diagnosis / Twelve Things I Have Learned.

balled up fistCancer has a way of breaking and beating people down with circumstances far beyond their control.  I try to approach life in a positive manner and look for humor in odd places and dark corners, but sometimes, like everyone else, I get sucked down a black hole of despair and have to claw my way back out.

I’m sure my little preamble is leading some of you to ask, “What the heck is this little chicklet spouting off about now?”  Here’s the deal.  After a long twelve year remission, the hubster’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is back.  (Note to self: For future reference, do not allow the hubster to schedule routine yearly cancer checkups right before major holidays.)

Agonizing memories of the hubster’s chemos, radiation and stem cell transplant suddenly came flooding back to me and played over and over in my mind, like that miserable little jingle from a television commercial that you just can’t get out of your head.

Cancer.  What an awful word!  The disease has changed him.  It has changed me.  It has changed us and not always for the better.  It fundamentally transforms you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, whether you want it to or not.  As any of you that have dealt with a loved one’s cancer know, the big “C” doesn’t just happen to them, it happens to the whole family unit as well.

I need to remind myself of what I learned twelve years ago and perhaps it will help someone else.


1) I can and will be brave and strong.  If I can’t do it for me, I’ll do it for the hubster and the kids.

2) I can only deal with one day at a time (realistically, sometimes I can only deal with one hour at a time) and that’s okay.  I don’t have to be Wonder Woman.

3) I will ask for help if I need it.

4) I will reach out to trusted friends and family.  I don’t have to walk this path alone.

5) I will practice gratitude for each blessing that comes my way on a daily basis.  (a kind word, a compassionate nurse, a loving gesture, a caring friend, an encouraging phone call, etc.)

6) I can and will find the humor in the situation.  Laughter is a strong medicine.  It helps me and it helps the hubster.

7) I will have faith.  I will trust in the highest power of all.  A way will be made where there seems to be no way.

8) I will remember that adversity truly does define character.  I will not allow myself to become an angry, hostile, bitter, frustrated woman.

9) A good cry in a hot shower and a cuddle with my dogs does wonders and helps mitigate the stresses of a long hard day.

10) I can write.  Writing helps me sort through my thoughts and feelings.  It allows me to discard what I can and work through what I must.

11) I’ll call a therapist.  It helps to talk.

12) Above all, I will live inside hope!  I will not simply have hope or go forward with hope.  I will LIVE each day INSIDE of hope.

Life delivered a substantial blow.  Now it stands over me and taunts me, daring me to get back up for another.

Well Life, here is my reply.

Congrats. You had me temporarily flat on my back, but I got to my knees and I’m standing again.  Every time you knock me down, I will keep getting back up and facing you until I draw my last breath.  You see, Life, it’s like my grandfather used to say, “Don’t hold a match under a firecracker unless you’re prepared to deal with the explosion.”  And trust me, you don’t want to mess with this little firecracker.  Capiche?


15 thoughts on “Dealing With A Loved One’s Cancer Diagnosis / Twelve Things I Have Learned.

  1. Sad that you and your family have to go through another round. You have given yourself a great list of reminders. And if there’s anything someone you only know digitally can do to be helpful, just holler. You’re all in prayers.

  2. Best of luck to you and your family, Lois! I hope that you can all band together and support each other during this trying time. Remember to always keep writing – research has shown that writing about hard/horrible/trying/emotional experiences helps the writer REwrite his/her own story to put a positive spin on things. In short, writing is FREE therapy. Write like you live: lovingly, passionately, unapologetically.

    • Thanks my friend! Good advice. My writing will be peppered with the good, the bad, the ugly and sometimes the hysterical, but now, more so than ever, it will be about surviving the things that life throws my way.

  3. Lois, thank you for sharing the painful situation you are in these days. Strength is a wonderful thing and weakness can be too. I recall a bleak, horrible time in my life when I was forced to the ground so hard I figured I was done. Then a scriptural message came to me, one I’d read many times and had figured I understood. (Ya, with my head, but that’s not where it’s at ultimately.)

    The scripture: “I asked the Lord three times to remove this thorn from my side, and the Lord said, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.'” In the depths of vulnerability I understood the REAL meaning. The understanding came accompanied by a peaceful, powerful presence reassuring me I wasn’t alone. I learned that sometimes weakness can call forth strength far greater than one’s own. The ego self aligned with God’s “Self” can bring victory.

    Know that the energy of my spirit is with you & your husband every step of the way. Here’s to restored abundant health. Blessings to you and your family.

  4. Lois, I STAND,KNEEL with you. I hope that I can be there for you all. One thing for sure -God is always there. KNOW that you and God are an unbeatable team,always!!! God will never leave us…He loves us, is crazy over us and wants us to trust Him always. Even in this latest blow. That’s why Jesus came and took our place on the cross and rose from the dead to show us how much He loves us and is even now preparing a mansion for His own children. I am not telling you anything that you do not know.

  5. After 11 years of NHL – surgery,radiation,and 2 1/2 years of chemo the hubster gave me hope to see the light of day. I am thankful to get up in the morning and blessed to have the day. It’s so wonderful to have another day!!!! May the two of you have many more.

  6. Oh, I can’t tell you how much I love this, and needed this. My grandmother was just diagnosed, is starting chemo, radiation, had a peg tube and port placed, had to move her and my mom to a different state to do the treatments, and my 92 year old grandfather still doesn’t understand what all this means.

    I’m going to forward this to all my family. Thank you so much. You probably wrote this for us 🙂

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