The Disorienting Start of our Cancer Journey


When we get a cancer diagnosis we are suddenly thrown into a new reality dominated by the word itself—Cancer. A dreadful condition, the consequences of which we are well aware. The misery of cancer is well reported. And now it has found us. Nearly half of us go into denial when we are told for the first time that we have some form of it. It’s understandable, the suddenness of it is disorienting. The thin veil we hung between our life and our death drops and there we are either terrified or disbelieving.

As well, we enter a system already in progress and ill-equipped to deal with the emotional and spiritual side of things. We find ourselves in a confusing world of cancer treatments usually in a specialized facility away from everyone except other cancer patients. The system has little capacity for alleviating our angst. That said our doctors, nurses, medical staff (at least mine) put in an heroic effort bringing us into and guiding us through this tremulous ordeal. They have seen hundreds if not thousands of patients before us. Each one of us are the same and different. The urgency of the situation has them pressing us forward with treatments because they know every little delay will count against us. Still, our natural response is to hit the brakes, slow down, we’re thinking, considering, hoping, praying, sometimes insisting this cannot be.

Sitting in the various reception areas waiting for consultations or treatments I noticed a lot of folks looking like deer caught in a headlight. This was not what we expected to be doing with our lives. Yet here we are with so many damn questions and so few if any definitive answers available. It is bewildering to be plunged into this specialized environment. Our worlds are tipped over, everything spills out and we haven’t time for any of it. It can take us awhile to admit, yes, this is happening, and get on with it. The sooner we can get to acceptance the better our chances are for more time. Because more time is what we want right? Just a little more time.

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