June is home to National Cancer Survivors Day (June 7th), a day to celebrate the journey of survivors, who are defined as “patients diagnosed with cancer.” While there are multiple resources for cancers patients, including an entire website dedicated to the National day, I thought that I would share my perspective of what it means to be a patient/survivor on an emotional/mental level:
- Sadness and in denial when diagnosed
- Angry that this is happening to you specifically
- Hopeless because of a lack of control
- Frustration when you don’t understand your treatment plan
- Guilt knowing other cancer patients have it worse
- Anxiety when preparing for a scan or an appointment
- Betrayal when you find out who your true friends and family are
- Hope knowing you may make it out on the other side
- Strong when you make it through the next chemo and/or radiation treatment
- Resilient when you’re declared “in remission”
- Fear that the cancer may come back
This is only a glimpse into the many feelings felt, the life that is suddenly a roller coaster with ups and downs and hidden twists and turns. Sometimes you may not hear the whole story, the emotions guarded underneath a face that tries to “be strong” through it all. Really take a listen when you, as a caregiver, a medical professional, a friend, or a family member, ask a cancer patient, “How are you feeling?” Look at the facial expressions, the body language, and the words they’re using. To summarize: Be present.
Carly Flumer is a young woman who was diagnosed with stage I papillary thyroid cancer at the age of 27. She recently received her Master’s degree from Boston University in Health Communication and received her Bachelor’s from George Mason University in Health Administration and Policy. While being diagnosed with the “C” word at such a young age was a surprise, as it would be to anyone, she found strength, support, and inspiration in sharing her cancer journey on social media. As a result of her health outcome, she looks to advocate for other cancer patients through education, research, and health literacy.