Facing Uncertainty

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As most people know individuals in California are battling fierce fires and the Santa Ana winds. Individuals who live near these fires are living with GREAT uncertainty as did many others last year with Hurricane Katrina as to whether everything they own will be destroyed and when should one leave your home and what should you take with you.

This is similar for individuals with cancer throughout their journey. For some individuals the constant "uncertainty" is one of the most difficult emotional aspects of the cancer journey. Most of us like to feel we are in control of our day to day life. But, with cancer, like the fires or hurricanes, we realize we are not in control.

What can you do to help with these feelings of uncertainty?
  • Some people like to write everything down in a notebook (type of therapy they receive, how they feel physically, who they visited with). This provides something positive and constructive that can help you gain a sense of control and a sense of hopefulness.
  • Some people like to talk to friends on the phone or go to support groups.
  • Forms of distraction may be helpful (like art, painting, drawing, knitting, music).
  • Pets can be a wonderful addition to the family and provide distraction as well as unconditional love (EVEN WHEN YOU HAVE NO HAIR!).
  • Certainly with younger generations television and video programs can provide distraction and light entertainment.
  • Some people find it hard to concentrate enough to read but enjoy being read to or enjoy books on tape. So many libraries and second hand book stores have books on tape.

The other difficult part about experiencing uncertainty along the cancer journey is that it can be experienced at any time and be repeated throughout the journey. It is not an emotion you will only feel during diagnosis or at the end of treatment. Thus, it is important to know this is NORMAL! And you can talk to your health care providers and families, friends and support groups.

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About the Author


BA, MPH

Steve shares what he learned from his personal experience with cancer.

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