Changing Your Behaviour
You are now dealing with potentially one of the most serious, emotional and worrying times of your life.
Learning to say yes to offers of help, food and childcare to name a few is important. This may feel quite difficult. If, like me, you are quite an independent, busy person and pride yourself on being a coper be prepared to rethink your ingrained behaviour.
This is a time when friends and family are a really useful resource and people like to help. It’s hard to renounce control but if you can it will smooth your path through your diagnosis and treatment.
You may be feeling confused and worried and that your life has been thrown into turmoil. So are your children.
There is a definite balance to strike between efficiently sorting out childcare and involving your children (the degree of this obviously depends on their age group). If you can (with help, of course) maintain some semblance of normality for them in terms of seeing their friends and enjoying their usual activities they will probably cope better. Having said this be prepared for the fact that they may well want to talk and they may not choose the most convenient times! (Telling the Children)
This may be a time to rationalise after school clubs – I think these days it’s quite common to oversubscribe to various after school activities and that’s fine when life is going along normally at full speed but not so easy when the cancer and chemo spanner has been thrown into the works.
Alternatively this may be the time to meet other parents whose children attend the same clubs. This will depend on how open you wish to be with your diagnosis and treatment and don’t forget to ask for help. In my experience most people have been really keen to help.
In the early days of chemotherapy getting out of bed in the morning can be really tough so its worth having a think about how you are going to get the children ready for school and into school. Knowing you have it sorted and being able to have that extra rest may seem like a luxury but if you can sort it out you will really benefit.
Is anyone else a control freak in the kitchen or is it just me?
This is another area where it is important to relinquish some control and accept all the offers of food. In my case it was mostly lasagne but I happen to love it as do my family so that worked out really well!
People want to help. Cooking and bringing food is a simple way for friends and family to help. It may feel odd but when you have had chemo and need to think what to feed the children over the following days it is really useful to have a freezer full of preprepared meals.
Lifts to Appointments
You have probably been transformed from someone who barely ever had hospital or clinic appointments to someone whose diary is peppered with them (I know I have been). If you feel well and up to it then of course you can get yourself to some of these and it may be quite soothing to have that time alone in the car.
There are several things to bear in mind – hospital parking can be dire and when you are worried about an appointment you probably won’t want to be circling a hospital car park for ages, nor do you want to leave home much earlier – goodness knows you’ll spend enough time there anyway!
It’s good to have company on the journey – on the way there to take your mind off the upcoming appointment or perhaps to think of questions you may want to ask. During the appointment it’s good to have company anyway – another memory in the room is always handy especially with chemo brain! On the way home having a friend with you can be so important – it maybe that its hard to concentrate on driving depending what went on during the appointment or this could be a good time to talk through the information you have just been given.
In my experience friends are glad to help just don’t be afraid to ask them.
Walking Through It
You may be finding that you are struggling either physically or motivationally to do some exercise.
This is where friends and family can help and more specifically their dogs! You may of course have dogs of your own (I don’t) so you may have already realised that getting out of the door and walking for however short a time can feel great. Obviously this will depend on where you are in a chemotherapy cycle or operationwise but if you are up and moving around walking can help you feel so relaxed and much stronger.
What better way to catch up with a friend than getting some fresh air, Vitamin D (its proven that breast cancer patients have better outcomes the higher their vitamin D levels) and exercise.
It is so much easier said than done but at this time in your life let people spoil you and look after you. You may have tough times ahead so make the most of this opportunity to try and relax a bit which will ease your journey through treatment.