Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Coping With Advanced Thyroid Cancer, Metastasis or Recurrence

What to do if your cancer returns or you are diagnosed with advanced cancer for the first time?  There are really two groups of people with metastatic cancer: those who are learning for the first time that they have cancer, and those who were diagnosed earlier and have since experienced a recurrence or metastasis.  But both groups have one thing in common: the cancer is considered advanced. That means we have different needs and different concerns than women and men who  have discovered their cancer early.  Many of us who are facing cancer for a second time or more feel that we already know what to expect. 
Please read this blog post carefully and read it again if you need to because there is a chance that you’ll find  a tip you hadn’t thought of before – one that will make your life easier to manage while fighting cancer. It is published with permission and authored by Monica Knoll Executive Director of Cancer 101 and a Breast Cancer Survivor. 

What do you call it?  There is no one term that we all use to describe cancer  that has spread to other parts of our body. Some of us call the cancer advanced. Others prefer to describe it as metastatic.  This difference in terminology can be confusing. For example what’s the difference between stage 3 or stage 4 cancer  and metastatic cancer? The answer is there is no  difference. Cancer that has spread to other organs is  advancing. 

Some healthcare  professionals describe stage 2  as advanced as well. As a cancer patient, it’s important for you as well as your caregivers to understand what the terms you use to describe you cancer. That way you will be able to make more informed choices about treatments.
  • Stage 4 cancer: Cancer that has spread to other organs of the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver, or brain.
  • Advanced  cancer: Cancer that has spread to other places in the body and usually cannot be cured.
  • Metastatic cancer: Cancer that has spread from the place where it started to other parts of the body.
  • Recurrent cancer: Cancer that comes back after treatment. It can come back in the same place as the original cancer or in a different part of the body.
As you can see, we may be using different terms, but we’re  really talking about the same thing.

Living “with” metastatic cancer:   Living “with” cancer is easier said than done. But many of  us do live for years with advanced cancer, despite the fact that we wake up every day with uncertainty in our lives. We all know that everyone dies. But for those of us living with cancer, the idea of our own mortality takes on a very real presence.

It would be easy to fall into depression or self-pity. But  many of us make up our mind early that we don’t want to waste one day feeling depressed or sorry for ourselves. We  may not have any control over how much time we have left, but we can control how we plan to live it. For some of us, our cancer is considered a chronic disease because, with treatments, we can keep our cancer at bay and have a good quality of life for a fairly long time.  I hope the following advice helps you live life to the fullest  despite your cancer. I know it helps me every day.

  • Make every day count. If I’m feeling good, I try to be  present in the moment and not take it for granted. Enjoy what you are doing and the people with whom you are spending your time. Enjoy the feeling of feeling good.

  • Be good to yourself: Form reasonable expectations of what you can and can’t do.

  • Improve your appearance: You might just feel better if you do. Get out of those pajamas; wash your face; put on a little lipstick. Get a manicure or a pedicure and a foot rub. 

  • Just Move: Take a walk, a yoga class, or if you are up to it, do something more rigorous. Your  energy and mood will definitely improve. Make sure to talk to your doctor first about exercising. 

  • Eat as well as you can! Eat good nutritional foods that will boost your immune system and give you energy. But don’t deny yourself a little treat, too. 

  • Music: Listen to music that soothes you when you need to relax. Or pick upbeat, happy music when you need to be cheered up or need a little energy boost. I have a few songs that make me feel great when I hear them. Try the theme song to the movie “Rocky” when you are feeling tired or sad. 

  • Count your blessings: I have lived a good life so far and I still do. I have always had food on the table, a roof over my head, a good education, a family who loves me, great friends, and wonderful travels. I then think about people who are living in dire poverty. 
Millions of people in the world have experienced war, and live without food, water, or adequate shelter. Millions have never known what a good day is. While we feel terrible with chemo,  there are millions who are starving. And if I die tomorrow, I know that I have had a great life. If you can, try to take a little time to see what you have and what you have experienced. For me, this gives me peace of mind.

About the Author: Monica Knoll is the Executive Director of Cancer 101. In the fall of 2000, at the age of 36, Monica Knoll was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her diagnosis and treatment involved taking the gene test and testing positive for the BRAC1 gene, undergoing surgeries, joining a national chemotherapy study, eight rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation.  She is also the sister of a 14-year breast cancer survivor and daughter of a father who lost his life to esophageal cancer.

No comments:

Post a Comment