Lessons I've learnt since my diagnosis
Time to stop just coping and start living! If I can do it so can you. Below are a few things I wish I knew when I was first diagnosed.
1: There's no right or wrong way to process this.
We are all unique and we are all accepting something monumental in different parts of our lives. In my case, it took about 7 months to truly acknowledge that I needed to start finding ways to improve the daily quality of my life. We walk around subconsciously trying to file away the fact that we're actively suffering with a form of post traumatic stress disorder and we literally don't know what to do about it. We become disinterested, upset and unmotivated versions of ourselves- and that isn't our fault.
My advice to you if you're still struggling to accept your diagnosis: find something purposeful and progressive to channel the negative energy into and make it part of your routine. A few examples that I found helped me were:
- Gentle Yoga once a week
- Doing a Mindfullness Course
- Talking it out with a registered psychologist (as required, you can access these for free via your GP)
- 15 minutes a day of Guided Meditation
- Reading a good novel (I have a lot of recommendations)
- Get running with the Couch to 5k app (if you can)
- Proactively eating a more balanced diet
2: Don't even think about Googling something in the hope of finding a concrete answer - everyone's experience is different.
I'll never get back the hours I spent on forums searching the specifics of my tumour. There's a reason your Consultant never gives away too much and it's because your journey will be totally unique to you. Don't give yourself something to panic over; I've seen patients with sizeable tumours and loss of vision make miraculous recoveries when they'd only been given months to live. Stick to websites like The Brain Tumour Charity for information. Remember that every Brain Tumour case is one for the history books: almost no two cases will be the same - you're writing your own story.
3: Set small manageable goals; and when you hit them, celebrate like it's a milestone.
In my case, I have no true prognosis, other than the ones I'm choosing not to believe; so it's important to set goals and really go for them. In my case, fundraising was the key aspect that got me out of the house when I felt rubbish. I really wanted to run 5k for Cancer Research and knew it was achievable over 9 weeks. When I first started I was so unfit but by week 4 I managed to jog 5k in 40 minutes and I can't tell you how good that felt. Goals don't always have to be physical: I went to Greece for 10 days and didn't take a single painkiller: I never imagined that would have been possible 6 months ago. Always give your goal a time period in which you will be able to achieve it.
Other small examples include:
- Learning to bake over a number of weeks
- Going for an early morning walk every third morning for 4 weeks
- Taking part in a charitable event
- Doing weekly yoga sessions leading up to a scan to keep the stress at bay
- Planning an incredible Christmas or Birthday party with close family and friends
- Booking ahead a local holiday such as Centre Parcs or an excursion with The Brain Tumour Charity.
4: Get more fresh air
Just go outside!!! Walk, run, wheel, kick a ball at a wall, just breathe in that fresh air!
By 2020 I am aiming to have raised £5000 for The Brain Tumour Charity to help #FindACureSooner and ensure continued support and readily available resources for patients and families of those who have Brain Tumours. Please click on the link and donate, if all of my readers donated £1 I would have met my target already! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/moneyforbrains