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Allow Yourself to Be Shocked and Then Craft Your Plan

Allow Yourself to Be Shocked and Then Craft Your Plan

Time and again, I have heard bladder cancer patients and caregivers describe that moment when they received the cancer diagnosis as a stopping of time. They say they had a hard time hearing or understanding anything that was said after “cancer.”

I know the feeling. My first husband received a bladder cancer diagnosis in 2011 (early stage) and again in 2013 (metastatic). It was shocking both times and certainly worse the second time because the diagnosis was more serious.

Allow yourself the time to be shocked and numb. You don’t have to tell anyone right away. You can simply process the idea of it. Hopefully, patient and caregiver can talk about it between themselves and allow it to sink in.

Tell others when you are ready

You may not be able to control the diagnosis or its outcome. But claim control over the areas about which you do have control: who you tell and when, how you deliver the news, and the attitude you (and others) will assume about this bladder cancer.

As a patient or caregiver, you can decide who you tell, how much you tell them, and when you tell them. The timing must be right for you. Do not let anyone pressure you into talking about it before you are ready. But keep in mind that the timing must be right for them, too. Be sure you are reaching out to them at a peaceful moment in their lives.

Figure out what kind of support you need

How people respond will, to some extent, be a result of the attitude with which you convey the news. Think about this in advance. If you are stressed and tense, they likely will be, too. And maybe that’s OK. It’s hard not to be stressed and tense. But let them know how, specifically, they can help you.

Maybe you want them simply to validate how you feel at any given time. One day you might feel gloomy and you don’t necessarily want to be cheered up. You want to indulge in a bit of self-pity. On a different day, you might feel hopeful and you don’t want to be told to “be realistic.” If you want friends and family to simply allow you to have these emotions, you need to tell them that. Conversely, you might know yourself as someone prone to gloom in serious situations. Maybe, then, you do need them to counter that. Whatever the case, figure out in advance what you think you’ll want from them and then tell them.

Craft your action plan

Cancer is the ultimate experience of feeling a lack of control. But having a plan will help you feel more in control. It can also get you past pity. Somehow, I have found that action just helps me feel better. What kind of items might be included in your plan? Here are some ideas:

  • Gain an understanding of the diagnosis: What type of bladder cancer is it? What stage and grade?
  • Gain an understanding of the treatment options. What is the standard of care for that type, stage, and grade?
  • Where will you get a second opinion? How will you choose a doctor for a second opinion?
  • How, in the next one to three months, will the diagnosis affect your daily life? Will you need to take time off work for appointments? Will you need additional child care?
  • Will you need to draw upon supplementary insurance policies or explore other financial resources?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.