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The word “curable” conjures up images of a happy ending. A glimpse of the future where life will be good again. But what happens when that future is no longer possible? When those expectations are shattered, and the reality is that our illness is terminal? Everyone grieves differently, and the experience can be different for each family member. However, most people with terminal cancer experience similar feelings: sadness, anger, guilt, and fear. And while it’s a difficult journey, many people with terminal illnesses find that they are even more deeply affected by having a terminal disease. This article looks at everything you need to know about living with a terminal disease—from understanding your diagnosis to finding support.
What is Terminal Cancer?
Terminal cancer is cancer that has no curable stage, but all cancers eventually come to an end, even if it’s not in our lifetime. For example, some cancers are cured. Others are treated, but cancer always comes back. These are “incurable” cancers. But the vast majority of cancers are “terminal.” For many people with terminal cancer, the end of life means the end of treatment. You will have a better understanding of your diagnosis, your treatment options, and the journey ahead if you know more about cancer’s journey. Understanding your diagnosis is as important as knowing your treatment, so don’t skip this step!
Understanding Your Diagnosis
Cancer’s journey begins when cells in a part of your body grow out of control. This can happen when cells don’t have a way to stop dividing and become “cancerous.” If those cells get into your body’s tissues and crowd out the healthy cells, this is called a tumor. Tumors can develop in many parts of the body. Some are in the skin, others in the kidney, lungs, breast, or other places. The type of cancer you have depends on where in your body the tumor is and what it looks like. There are many types of cancer. Some are more common than others. About one in four people will get one of these rare diseases.
Understanding Your Treatment
Cancer treatment is an important part of your journey. Depending on the type of cancer you have and where it is in your body, you may have one or several types of treatment. If you have cancer that is inoperable or in a place where surgery is not possible, you will probably receive chemotherapy injections or pills. When chemotherapy is used with radiation therapy, it is very good at killing cancer cells. Some people may need chemotherapy as a part of their treatment plan for many years. If you have localized cancer, the tissue can usually be surgically removed. The good news is that most localized cancers is curable. For example, if your cancer is in the skin, it can be surgically removed. If cancer has spread to other places in the body, you may need radiation therapy to shrink or destroy the cancerous tissue around the tumor site. When radiation therapy doesn’t work, chemotherapy may be an option.
Finding Support for Your Illness and Grieving Process
Many people with terminal illnesses must find new ways to cope with their diagnosis. For example, they may experience anxiety about their future, as well as guilt and anger over the loss of the people in their life. People often feel alone in feeling these emotions. In addition to professional healthcare providers, many others have walked this path before you. They can be a valuable resource for coping with a terminal disease. Support and understanding can come from family, friends, and helpful online communities. There are also many support groups and helplines available for people with a terminal illness. You can choose the type of support that is most helpful for you.
Don’t Let Cancer Defeat You
You are not alone. There are many people who have walked this path before you. And there are many resources to help you along the way. Don’t let cancer defeat you. Keep fighting.
Helping Children Cope with Loss
As parents, we want the best for our children. We want them to have a bright future and a full life. We want our children to be happy and successful. Unfortunately, many children with terminal illnesses will grow up without the chance to be happy. Many children will not even get to experience life. They will die prematurely and not have the chance to experience love and relationships. Children with terminal illnesses must be part of the decision-making process. It is also helpful if they can make final decisions regarding medical care. If your child has a terminal illness, you must talk with him or her about the future and how it will impact the rest of his or her life.
The Importance of Connections
Each of us has a unique story. Despite the challenges we face, we are all connected. This is true for all of us, but especially for those with a terminal illness. A connection that is particularly important for those with a terminal illness is the support group. These groups offer a place to share experiences and feelings with others who have walked the path before you. Support groups are also a great place to meet new people. Many people find they can better cope with the challenges of a terminal diagnosis when they have a supportive connection.
As you walk the path of a terminal illness, remember that you are not alone. There are many people who have walked this path before you, and there are many resources to help you along the way. Don’t let cancer defeat you. Keep fighting. And most importantly, remember to find connection and support along the way.