There's a great quote that can really help along your healing process: "Accept the diagnosis not the prognosis."
When my aunt was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, she was told to get her affairs in order because her doctors guessed that she had - at most - 18 months to live. She was told there was very little they could do for her.
Then she did something that probably shocked her doctors. She looked at her doctor and announced that she wasn't going to die any time soon. Further, she told him if he were going to have such a negative attitude, he needed to let her know now because she'd have to find another doctor as she had no plans on giving up so easily.
Was my aunt in denial?
Not at all.
Was she being difficult?
Her doctor may have thought so, but I don't.
Her personality always leaned toward the sunshine not the shadows. She liked to laugh and believed in humor.
Facing cancer is frightening, and you have to acknowledge the battle at hand, but you don't have to acknowledge (or give) cancer any more power than it needs to have.
Remember: "Accept the diagnosis not the prognosis."
This can be difficult given the inherent fear that surrounds the word "cancer". Someone recently told me that cancer is the most feared word in seven languages!
My aunt eventually passed away, but it wasn't six months later, or a year later - or even two years later.
From a cancer diagnosis and being told that near-term death was certain, she lived another 16 years! Pretty impressive considering her initial prognosis.
That's why it's important to "accept the diagnosis not the prognosis".
This begs the question, "How did she do it?"
She would tell you that a sense of humor is key. She'd say that you can't let it get you down, or if it gets you down (which it will), you can't let it keep you down.
SIDENOTE: There's scientific, biological reasons why this is important. Your brain is your own personal pharmacy. Depending on your mood, your brain makes chemicals and releases them into the body. Good mood, good chemicals. Bad mood, poisonous chemicals.
Now, my aunt wouldn't have put it that way. She'd have said, "Try to keep your sense of humor." She'd explain to you that the one thing you can control is your outlook and your perspective.
The other thing she did was to take control.
The fact that she had cancer was "a done deal". So, she took control of what she could.
She inherently understood that she was in charge of herself - not the doctors and not the cancer. She didn't worry about cancer and what it was doing. Instead, she thought about what she and her doctors could do.
She looked for answers instead of thinking about the problem.
Is it hard sometimes? Absolutely.
Is it challenging? Definitely.
Can it make a huge difference in your cancer journey? You better believe it can. In fact, my doctor credited the results I got to my attitude. (I credit my attitude about cancer, in large part, to my aunt.)
Let my aunt's story inspire you to move forward with humor and confidence in the face of cancer.