Survivorship – 1: Proactive stance

Survivorship presentation on myeloma survivorship, my first four months.
Part 1 of 6. Proactive stance

1. Survivorship Pro-active stance.
Before I could move forward and fight my disease I had to address issues that would hold back my progress. There was to be nothing holding me back.
Ownership: I had to take ownership of my illness, it was my disease no one else’s. It was then I created my saying “my body, my illness, my treatment.”
Denial: When my doctor told me I had cancer, multiple myeloma, I did not want to believe him. I told him he was wrong, it was some one else’s results. Denial was short, I faced the truth quickly.
Emotion: Tears flowed; at times I could barely talk. I learnt not to let the emotions build up too high; it was that “C” word. I learnt how to release the emotion early, I learnt how to cry.
Anger: I was angry, why me, I have too much to live for, too much to loose, too much work to do. Talking it through with others helped. Like emotions I learnt to deal with anger as it happened, don’t let it build up.
No abuse: There was potential for abuse from me: mental, physical, emotional. My life philosophy of no abuse was reaffirmed. No abuse, not negotiable.
Confront death:
Myeloma is a cancer with no cure, a consequence of myeloma is death. I was young, only 53, thought I was bullet proof, never considered death, had no time for it, death was for other people. I had to confront death, bring it out into the open to move forward.
Be a pro-active patient: I wanted to know everything about myeloma, treatment, the hospital system. Being a passive patient was not for me, I wanted to be pro-active.

Links to previous relevant postings:

You have cancer.

Decision made to be a myeloma survivor.

Confronting death from myeloma.

Survivorship – The first 4 months

Late last year (2009) I gave a presentation to my myeloma group on myeloma survivorship, my first four months.
My presentation commenced with my condition at diagnose and I discussed if I wanted to be a survivor.
Some of my strengths are: Positive attitude, can see the big picture, don’t get bogged down with trivia, good planning and organisational skills, a willingness to learn, a self belief that I can do anything. How I used those strengths as part of my survivorship skills was explained in the six survivorship skills I identified.

Pro-active stance: Take ownership of my illness. Before I could move forward and fight my disease I had to address issues that would hold me back.
Myeloma support group: A support system with other myeloma patients.
Team Sid: A network of practical help and support.
Create a myeloma and medical knowledge base: To take ownership of my illness I had to learn about my illness.
Maintain a positive attitude: Continue what I always do, be positive.
Create positive affirmations: Compliments a positive attitude.

My next six postings will expand upon those six survivorship skills.

Two survivorship definitions:
Stages of survivorship: Debbie Moore LBF NZ.
Acute –Begins with diagnosis and spans the time of further diagnostic and treatment effects.
Livestrong – Lance Armstrong Foundation.
Survivorship begins at diagnosis, the moment your battle with cancer begins, and continues through your treatment and beyond.

Happiness (Reconsidered)

by Judith Viorst

Is a clean bill of health from the doctor,
And the kids shouldn’t move back home for
more than a year,
And not being audited, overdrawn, in Wilkes-Barre,
in a lawsuit or in traction.

Is falling asleep without Valium,
And having two breasts to put in my brassiere,
And not (yet) needing to get my blood pressure lowered,
my eyelids raised or a second opinion.

And on Saturday nights
When my husband and I have rented
Something with Fred Astaire for the VCR,
And we’re sitting around in our robes discussing,
The state of the world, back exercises, our Keoghs,
And whether to fix the transmission or buy a new car,
And we’re eating a pint of rum-raisin ice cream
on the grounds that
Tomorrow we’re starting a diet of fish, fruit and grain,
And my dad’s in Miami dating a very nice widow,
And no one we love is in serious trouble or pain,
And our bringing-up-baby days are far behind us,
But our senior-citizen days have not begun,
It’s not what I called happiness
When I was twenty-one,
But it’s turning out to be
What happiness is.
We didn’t need another reason to love Judith Viorst, but here’s one anyways. Priorities, perspectives and definitions shift and change as we age and, hopefully, mature. The first sentence resonates like a giant brass gong. Would anyone in their 20s, or even 30s have put a clean bill of health first on the list? Now I can’t imagine anything else. I think happiness may be the absence of strife, trauma, etc., and the ability to appreciate that absence. I know it’s a lot simpler that most folks realize. What do you think happiness is?

(Good insights at The Happiness Project; see cool sites at right.)