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Things that help us cope

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

It is hard living with a cancer diagnosis yet we all do it and all seem to manage to cope.

What sort of things do people find have helped them "pick themselves up and carry on?"

For me it is writing. I started writing in a journal a year before my diagnosis. I lost my mum to cancer and a very special relationship ended. I suffered a breakdown mostly because of my relationship break up. My relationship often consisted of emails and I used to love writing to my "friend" and because I enjoyed writing so much I decided to document everything that had happened to me in an attempt to help me come to terms with it all.

Once I started it became almost like an addiction and I used to look forward to some quiet "me" time where I could continue with my recording of events. It became a massive diary and up to date now consists of about 89 pages of typed script.

I type it and save it on my computer. I also have it backed up onto a pen drive. I have found it pure therapy as in the writing down of my feelings, my fear, my emotional pain, my sense of loss and my thoughts about having cancer helped me so much to deal with it all. Sometimes I go back and read some of my old entries, but the fact that I have everything recorded on paper gives me comfort to know that what has happened to me was real and I have managed to work through my feeelings and emotions and am learning to live with my new life.

What other things have you found that has helped you?

Love Tina xx

AussieMaddie's picture
Posts: 345
Joined: May 2011

But I don't do it nearly enough.

Had the palliative counsellor here todday and she one again urged me to do that. Now, expecially as I've started to feel depressed and tired - probably on account of the chemo.

Wil try to resume it. I know that it is veru therapeutic.


(Don't know about anyone else here but I may have to bring my desktop PC into the kitchen were I do all my work. I can never see the keys)

VickiReed's picture
Posts: 66
Joined: Dec 2010

I love to hear that you are a journaling type person. It sounds like it is a great help to
you. A friend of mine brought me a journal when I started this but I am not a big writer and I told her I wanted to forget about the procedures and think about things that make me happy and think about the future. It blows my mind when I think back to all the procedures, poking, prodding and all the problems that accompanied it all. Also the range of emotions that comes with it.
For me keeping connected with my friends and family has helped me so much. Also Lexi, my Jack Russell puppy. She has been a lifeline. If I don't feel good she is happy to lounge with me, when I want to do something, she is right at my side. Sometimes I think she can sense that I am not well.
Another lifeline is this board, I am glad to know that there is a place I can turn that knows exactly what I am going through and how I feel.

AussieMaddie's picture
Posts: 345
Joined: May 2011

Nice to know ya :)

Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

I totally understand how a pet can give you comfort. I don't have a pet (I want one but my husband says no) but my son has 2 rabbits and my daughter has a cat. I just love spending time with my children as I get to cuddle and play with their pets. Animals are so therapeutic and sensitive to your emotions and moods.

Tina xx

lulu1010's picture
Posts: 367
Joined: Feb 2011

When I was diagnosed I was given a book to journal in but I too had a hard time making myself dwell on the situation any more than I had to. The book sat there for a long time and after a while I decided to journal my blessings. It seemed in the middle of all my troubles there were good things happening every day and and sometimes I could see where there were good things coming from the bad things. I dont keep up with it near enough but I am starting to try harder but I do find it amazing comfort to be able to identify good things in the middle of this mess.
I also love to do needlework. I love to knit and cross-stitch etc. and have many friends that like to do these things also. It made time go by this winter when I had nothing else to do or didn't feel like doing anything. It also gave opportunities for friends to come over and spend time with me.
The concern and support of friends and family were so helpful letting me know that I was being thought of and prayed for and they kept me included in things as much as I was able.
With everyones help and lots of prayers answered I made it thru 10 months of chemo.

Posts: 152
Joined: Feb 2011

Pets certainly are a wonderful comfort, mum has her dog and we walk together, it is a great time to discuss thoughts and feelings when out in the forest, her dog bess is also sensitive to mums feelings and she alerted dad when mum fell in the shower, although she thought mum smelt bad when she was on chemo! Another thing mum loves is Reflexology, I am a practitioner so she has it regularly finshed off with some Reiki, I recommend any of you ladies to have this done if possible X

daBeachBum's picture
Posts: 164
Joined: Apr 2011

Hi Tina,

I have been doing a lot of traveling, gambling, partying and Paintball since my diagnosis.

OK, I'm totally kidding. I have no interest whatsoever in Paintball... lol

Luckily I feel great right now and have been enjoying spending quality time with my family and friends. I have a little place at the beach and lots more folks have been coming down than usual because of the C. I always stay the weekend before chemo in Philly with my girlfriend and also see my mom.

I was so sick at the hospital, I never thought I would step outside again. Now I live a fairly normal life and in the words of Warren Zevon "enjoy every sandwich". Its all bonus time for me and I treat it just that way.

Vicki, your dog looks just like mine did when he was a puppy! He's a Feist/Pointer mix and since has grown into a 50 pound rowdy teenager. He has developed a lot more black spots since he was a baby last year. My nephew (a nurse) and his sweet cat came down when I first moved back here to help out, and decided they liked it here and stayed - summer is easy to like here :-)

I'm far too untalented to paint or write, but I can grill shrimp and make margaritas with the best of 'em!

Strength and love to you all...


westie66's picture
Posts: 642
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi all: Good topic! First of all, my wonderful rescued westie Charlotte. She is always there with a comforting paw no matter how I feel. And she gets me out walking which is always good. Second, my very dear friends who have stuck by me for well over a year now and are always cheerful and supportive. Third, nature - who doesn't feel better walking in a forest or along a beach or listening to bird song in the morning? Fourth, the curlier hair I now have! Wow, lots to be thankful for!

LaundryQueen's picture
Posts: 682
Joined: Mar 2011

I've had people ask me if I've started to write my story. I feel like last year was such a nightmare for me that I don't EVER want to revisit it. So to hear that you can write your story AND go back & read it, too--wow! Kudos to you and to anyone else who can do this.

I am looking at a rise in my CA-125 that was predicted by the oncologist. So, I'm doing whatever keeps me happy, calm & peaceful while I enjoy every chemo-free day that I can squeeze in. I am NOT gonna jump back on the chemo train unless I feel it is my last resort.

I love spending time in my flower garden so I'm so happy that summer is here where I live in the Midwest.


Tina Brown's picture
Tina Brown
Posts: 1054
Joined: Nov 2009

Thank you for your comments but I don't think I am any braver than any of the other ladies on here.

I think we all have our own way of coping and what might come easily to one of us may be really hard to someone else. There are things in my life that scare me and give me such fear deep inside but surprisingly NOT CANCER. Yes I may be off my rocker to be saying (or writing) this but I feel I am dealing with my cancer much better than the REST of my life at the moment.

Isn't it funny???????????

My depression is back and causing me emmense sadness and misery. I know I had depression before my cancer diagnmosis and cancer only added to the root cause of my depression.

Cancer is something tangible that has happened to me and I have now come to terms with it. I have a gapping hole in my personal life that I cannot come to terms with and I can see no way to change it. That is what feeds my depression, not cancer. Sometimes I feel that the cancer is actually helping me by taking my mind off what is missing in my life. How strange does that sound but it is true for me at the moment.

Sorry to rant. Tina xxxxxxx

carolenk's picture
Posts: 909
Joined: Feb 2011

Dear Tina

No apologies necessary. Thanks for sharing your personal story--I have never heard anyone speak of cancer helping them as a distraction from their other problems. I remember you writing that you were a runner and are trying to get back to running. Exercise can combat depression and I hope you overcome your difficulty with getting your lungs back into shape.



westie66's picture
Posts: 642
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi Tina: You're right you know. I am less anxious about the cancer but did have a bad time when my mom died on Mother's Day and then 2 weeks later one of my best longest friends died too. These deaths really got to me, far more than the cancer diagnosis has. Thanks for being so honest!

AussieMaddie's picture
Posts: 345
Joined: May 2011

" There are things in my life that scare me and give me such fear deep inside but surprisingly NOT CANCER"

" I may be off my rocker"
It's *being* off my rocker in a sense - for so many years - that makes cancer so much easier to bear.

" I feel I am dealing with my cancer much better than the REST of my life at the moment"
I know that I am.

" I had depression before my cancer diagnmosis and cancer only added to the root cause of my depression."
I can't share with you a history of depression Tina but something equally oppressive. And the cancer doesn't fuel my mental experience (probably because it isn't depression). I was very calm when told that I had cancer and that the prognosis wasn't good. I'm tired. Bone tired. I'm too strongly spiritual a person to believe suicide is an option for me - though I totally accept that it is an option for others. Given my belief, I saw getting cancer as a natural way out.

I don't like to discuss my primary mental diagnosis because, like the peritoneal cancer, it is not at all a common or well understood one. For all that it is different from a diagnosis of depression, I think any form of mental illness makes one vulnerable to depression. I have been experiencing more depression in the last couple of months. I asked my oncologist if the chemo could be contributing to that. He could only say that it's possible, but he doesn't know for sure. After my last round of chemo (my 10th cycle) my depression was so evident, that I think it was what decided him to go ahead with the PET scan to see if we can find any thing else going on.

" Cancer is something tangible that has happened to me and I have now come to terms with it."

For me, because it is so tangible, it has been easier for others to support me in it - at least until it was seen that I wasn't getting any symptoms from it. Much easier to support me in that than in my mental illness.

" Sometimes I feel that the cancer is actually helping me by taking my mind off what is missing in my life"
Don't think I can say that exactly, but certainly it has kept me busy being organized. It has come easy for me to write and pay for my own funeral service (to take that strain off my family), to write and pay for my plaque (leaving lines for family to fill in) and even to writing the brochures to hand out at the funeral (only the dates to fill in). Unless my family want to add something else, it's all done.

I love being organized but I let things go terribly when my mother - whom I was caring for - died in 2004. I now want to sort all my paperwork so my family will find what they need and also put the house in order.

They're my goals before dying - to sort, organize and leave the house tidy for my family. Not particularly inspiring goals, but right for me.

" How strange does that sound"
Not at all, but then I'm clearly prejudiced :)

If it's any consolation, since I believe we are in this world to learn, I also believe that it is the lessons that are more complex, and most often *not* seen by others, that bring about the deepest lessons.

I value that and, not for a moment, do I feel apologetic for it. :)


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