Finding out that your bladder cancer has returned can be equally or more stressful than getting your initial diagnosis. The prospect of more disruptions, treatments and uncertainty is stressful. As you sort through your emotions and make decisions with your cancer care team about treatment, the following suggestions might help you and your loved ones cope.
Be Informed. Learn what you can do for your health right now and about the services that are available to you. Talk with your doctor, family and those you rely on for support about your treatment options and how you want to approach decision making.
Get support and know that you are not alone. Talking with other survivors who are dealing with recurrent bladder cancer can help you on both a practical and an emotional level. Consider finding an in-person or online support group that may offer regular meetings where people talk about having cancer, social activities, professional speakers, counseling, complimentary therapies and/or bereavement support. You will have a chance to talk about your personal experience and issues as well as listen to other survivors and learn effective coping mechanisms that have worked for them.
Find an in-person bladder cancer support group in your area by visiting the section on Support Groups on BCAN’s main website.
You can also connect with other survivors and their loved ones for support and inspiration through by visiting the Bladder Cancer Online Support Community, which is available 24 hours a day over the Internet. There, more than 16,000 bladder cancer survivors, caregivers, family members, and other loved ones support each other through their different stages in their journey with bladder cancer.
You may also find support from family, friends, a professional counselor, or your place of worship.
Identify, understand and talk about your emotions. Learning about your recurrence is sure to evoke many emotions, which is entirely normal. You may even feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster at times. One day you might feel optimistic about fighting the cancer battle and prevailing over the disease, while the next day you may feel negative, sad and anxious about what your future has in store. Document your feelings by journaling, or talk to your friends and family about the emotions you are encountering. If you find it difficult to talk with your family, it may help to find a counselor or psychologist at your cancer center who is professionally trained and prepared to help you through the difficult and emotional times you may experience along your cancer journey.
Take time for yourself. The emotional impact of your diagnosis and the impact of treatment may require that you take more time for yourself. Plan ahead for times when you may need more rest. Cut back on time commitments.
Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t consider it a sign of weakness when asking for support from others. You will find that others are more than willing to help.
You are not a statistic. Cancer statistics that you find in your research will NOT tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook, so be sure to talk more about this with your professional cancer care team.
Take good care of yourself. Consider making small changes every day to eat a little more nutritiously, add a little more exercise such as a 15 minute walk or yoga DVD (consult with your doctor on what is appropriate), and try to do at least one activity each day that makes you happy. Identify what things are helpful to you to relax and de-stress. Everyone is different, but some things people find helpful include writing in a journal, practicing a sport or hobby, meditation or breathing exercises, connecting with a friend, and a soak in a hot tub or bath.