Living with a cancer diagnosis is never easy. Kathryn Elliott shares her top tips in the hope that they may make the early stages of a diagnosis journey a little easier to navigate.
In August 2019, just shy of my 47th birthday, I was diagnosed with locally advanced triple positive breast cancer. I still find it hard to comprehend that 12 months ago I was oblivious to the major trauma about to hit me and am only just starting to process the ripple effect it has created across every facet of life.
Living with a cancer diagnosis is unrelenting, particularly in the early days when the tests, appointments, and treatment take up a huge part of your life. It’s easy to fall into a cycle of fear, negativity and anger as you feel things spinning out of control. Of course, I had bad days, but I made an early conscious decision that there were things I could do to keep myself positive and in control of my healing journey, I have outlined a few of these below.
Find a way to share your diagnosis that protects you while keeping others up to date.
As soon as I was diagnosed rather than make endless phone calls delivering the news I decided to put together a text message, which I sent out to family and close friends. It provided them with the information about my diagnosis as well as my desire to approach it with acceptance and positivity. I found this very powerful and useful as it gave people the chance to digest the information and deal with their own reactions of grief, fear etc before discussing with me. It was important for me NOT to take on other people’s negative energy and reactions.
Look for inspiration and focus on the silver linings
When I was first diagnosed, I researched positive cancer recovery and healing stories to keep my spirits and energy in a good place. A book that I would
highly recommend is ‘Radical Remission’ by Kelly A Turner. This book was easy to read and a great compilation of stories from people around the world who the author discovered presented with nine common themes that she believes may help even terminal patients turn their lives around.
Create ways to support your body and mind during treatment
Although I was using Western medicine to treat my cancer, I wanted to complement and support my body and mind with a range of integrated therapies, some new and some that were already part of my life. These included: meditation, energy healing, kinesiology, sound healing, natural supplements, and yoga. I decided my mindset needed to be strong to support me through the treatment and dedicated a lot of time into these therapies, which I found helped me immensely during this challenging time.
I also developed a strong partnership with a specialised oncology naturopath in Melbourne. She was able to support me every step of the way, with tailored plans to support me during the different phases of treatment. This ensured I was giving my body and mind the best chance of recovery. I shared all of these plans with my medical team to be signed off and to ensure everyone was kept in the loop with all the medication and supplements I was taking.
If you are open to it, share the story of your journey with family and friends
Finally, I would say the other step I took, that helped me greatly, was to openly share my thoughts and feelings with family and friends. I started a dedicated Instagram account so that I could express some of the emotions I was feeling along the way. And now that I’m nine months on, I have found it useful to go back through these posts myself to reflect on the incredible lows and highs of the first 12 months living with my cancer diagnosis.
We are very grateful to Kathryn for sharing these tips, you can follow her journey on her Instagram account here.
If you have received a recent breast cancer diagnosis and would like more insight into what to expect next, our interview with Medical Oncologist, Dr Belinda Yeo can be viewed here.