How to cope with a terminal diagnosis
by N J Howell
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It's the worst news a doctor can give you. Inoperable. Terminal. Those who know me also know that I will most likely never hear those words because I don't go to doctors except for diagnosis and evaluation and, if I went for something as serious as cancer, we'd have a conversation at the beginning that would include an agreement that those words never be used. The time to have that conversation is when you first meet with a doctor to do testing. If they won't agree to work with you in language that does not rope you into the frequency of "no hope" then I'd suggest finding another doctor. If you've already gotten your diagnosis, you can still use the information given here moving forward, to take command of what you allow into your mind about this condition. I also share some information about different treatment options for cancer.
Personally, I don't ever intend to let a doctor give me a terminal diagnosis and I've got some tips for preventing that situation below. I believe God has the final say so all I would want a doctor telling me is exactly what the tests reveal and whether or not they feel they can help me. I do NOT want them
telling me that I can't be helped or ever using the word "terminal". I also will not listen to them tell me what's going to happen. Sitting pensively in a doctor's office, listening to someone in a white coat that represents and carries the weight of the AMA behind it, gives a dire medical prediction too much weight in my experience. In fact, if an oncologist were to start that kind of "nothing we can do" and "you have three months" language with me, I would excuse myself and tell them to have their nurse send that information via email or talk to me about it at a later date.
Doctors are bound by law to disclose certain information about a diagnosis and you probably really can't stop them but you can blunt the news until you are ready to hear it from an empowered position if you are firm, clear in your intention and prepared beforehand. It is possible to avoid the assault on your immune system that a terminal diagnosis can create and to delay the relaying of fearful information until you've had time to process what the test results might mean. One has to take that time for preparation because it will not be offered when the doctor walks into the room, test results (and your future life) in hand.
A patient must DEMAND that time. If one prepares ahead, it's possible to go in prepared to refuse taking on a diagnosis. This is just me but if I had to have diagnostic testing, to help me determine what was going on with my body, I'd take earphones into the consultation (if walking out didn't get the point across) and have some of my favorite music queued up. I'd have music playing from the onset, to stop the conversation, and state that I wanted to be informed on paper not verbally. If necessary, I'd even sign a waiver of rights but that's not a position everyone can take. Later, when I am relaxed, calm and fortified, I'd read the diagnosis or not but it would be my choice.
If I ever chose to move forward with any kind of standard cancer treatment, I would require a medical team willing to think outside the chemo/radiation box. If that's what you want too, demand it or find another team to work with as you address your body's needs. There have been cases where medical treatments for cancer were suppressed. Laetrile is one instance and there is evidence to suggest this and other options for cancer have been removed as options for patients. I would want a team that can give me the truth about ALL available options and who will respect my choice, once I have understood risk vs benefit for each path of treatment.
One avenue of treatment I would quickly pursue would be medical cannabis. If I lived somewhere that it was illegal, I'd immediately order the strongest legal CBD oil I could find until such time as I could get my things together, drive to Colorado and start using cannabis every day. The good news is that CBD is now legal in all 50 states of the United States. The bad news is that medicinal cannabis is only legal in a 25 states at the time of this writing. While CBD oil will help with pain and inflammation and does have cancer-fighting properties, THC is the primary ingredient I'd be looking for to help my body heal from cancer. To get that, you have to have full spectrum cannabis. Here's a list of states who have legalized medical marijuana but you will note that the rules are not the same, state to state.
Related: the spiritual perspective of addressing a terminal diagnosis. You may additionally wish to read the series on cancer (in this case, cervical cancer that begins here: cervical cancer, part one
After the Doctor Says it's Terminal ...
Have you received a terminal diagnosis from your doctor? Assuming you have chosen to address your health condition within the western medicine paradigm, I respect that decision and can offer some coping tools and resources that are supportive within that system of treatment.
One of the best such resources for caregivers, those who will be with you when the end nears, is the guidelines in the The National Cancer Institute End of Care section. I warn you that everything is covered in this section, including signs that death is near so be in a centered, calm state when you read it. It's important information that could make your service as a caregiver easier but some of it is very hard to think about.
And, in keeping with my own belief that the body can heal, even in the wake of a terminal diagnosis, you may want to read about people who indeed have survived terminal diagnosis of cancer or other illness or disease. You can read some of these stories here: The Body Can Beat Terminal Cancer - Sometimes and Essiac Tea as a Natural Cancer Remedy
Health Care Disclaimer: My decision to not allow a doctor to tell me my fate is the result of my own beliefs around such pronouncements and what they can do to the immune response. None of this information is intended to replace any needed medical evaluation or treatment in line with your own best interests.
If you are diagnosed with terminal cancer, you are the ONLY one who should be deciding your course of treatment. Choose a medical team that will support and respect your input, fully answer your questions and expansively approach a holistic / medical approach if that is your preference.
I read something a long time ago that resonated as truth for me and still does: Your body hears everything you say. I'm not sure who coined that phrase but I found a book on amazon by that title and it might be good reading if the subject of how our thoughts influence our health is of interest. Your Body Hears Everything You Say.