Don’t Plan for Failure

One of my goals with the posts I write for this site is to provide those who think they might, or already are, walking the same path as I walked (and continue to walk) with information that may make your life easier and less stressful. Let’s face it, the idea that any kind of cancer is growing in your body is tough to process. Mentally it is a huge drain on your “available RAM.” Even when the cancer you have has a 50% plus survival rate, your mind almost immediately goes to the bad 50%. I’ve seen grown men who have a small bit of prostate cancer completely lose it. Even though the survival rates for prostate cancer are extremely good.

Hearing you have cancer sets a million things in motion

Don’t get me wrong. Cancer is cancer and it is nothing to trifle with. My point is that hearing you have cancer sets a million things in motion. And almost 100% of them are bad things. Your brain just naturally goes into negative overdrive. Things you haven’t given too much attention to become hugely important: insurance, health and life, where you live (close to good Docs and hospitals?), will I be able to work during and after treatment?, will I lose my job?, will people treat me different? A million things.

And if you’re like me you will overreact on each and everyone one of them.

It’s natural. In your mind you can’t afford to take anything for granted. You have to assume the worst because, what if it does become the worst thing? It’s like the show Survivor, where you get voted off the show by other contestants. You can save yourself if you find an “immunity idol” when the others vote for you. If you have the idol and you announce you’re playing it, none of the votes for you count - you’re immune. Many contestants have had an immunity idol but didn’t think they needed to use it, only to find out they got voted out. They left the game with an idol in their pocket.

Survivor #pro-tip: ALWAYS PLAY THE IDOL!

Cancer is like that. You don’t want to be that person who didn’t get a second (or third or fourth) opinion only to find out the second or third one would have changed the course of your treatment. You second guess every decision. You hope you don’t miss something and make your situation worse. You consider everything. You never want to the person leaving the game with the idol in their pocket. You can’t take anything for granted. You plan for the worst. You play the idol!

Cancer #pro-tip: You will miss some things

Usually (and hopefully) small ones. Don’t worry. Ask questions. Have someone else with you when you talk to the docs. Ask questions of other people in your shoes - like me. I’ll give you the skinny.

Like right now - put the brakes on supply purchases

If you need supplies like catheters, pads, adult diapers, etc. Don’t buy 10 years of supplies one week after any surgery or procedure you have. Trust me.

I could wallpaper a small house with the “dribble” pads I bought in case I had daily incontinence. (I did have a bit of incontinence for a while - like everyone does - but not now.) I could carpet the house with the number of pads I bought for the bed at night (still leak a bit at night but you can launder those pads - who knew? Everybody. You only need a few.) I can make a slightly weird rubber rope to the moon and back with all the various styles and width catheters I have stacked up on the top shelf of my closet.

Sure, I needed them for awhile, like everyone, but not now. I have bottles and bottles of lubricant for the catheters still under the sink (always get weird looks from those that snoop in the bathroom when they visit. Let them wonder!) And don’t ask me about the number of bottles of sterile water I thought I’d need to flush out my newly installed neobladder.

In other words. If you can name something that I “might” have needed in 100% of the outcomes that were possible, I bought out the store. And you will be tempted to do the same. You will think you will need it forever so get lots now. But you may not.

A testament to my wildly negative brain

Don’t end up like me. Tons of supplies I will never need - sitting there - a testament to my wildly negative brain that assumed I’d need all of that stuff forever and ever.

Here’s why it is a bad idea to stock up. When you start amassing your stockpile it creates a real negative space in your brain. It becomes a reminder of what the worst possible new-normal might be. But know this, it is probably a false picture. Very few of us have to live our lives dealing with the worst possible outcomes of our cancer. Bladder cancer is treatable when found early. BC has pretty good survival stats. The treatment for BC has a few drawbacks and does require some new accessories. But rarely is the worst case the most likely case.

Buying all those supplies simply creates a shrine to the worst possible outcome. No one needs that.

My recommendation - buy as you go

It might be a bit more expensive but it will free up your brain to think about how your future life will be more “normal” than new-normal. Seeing your stockpiles just reminds you that you have cancer. I don’t need more reminders of that.

My advice: Don’t build your shrine too early

If you do end up needing those supplies long-term (which you will need a few - I still travel with catheters just in case) you can buy in bulk when you’re sure.

This road is long. You don’t need to plan every mile of it now.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

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.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you taken our In America survey yet?