Sunday, June 9, 2019
Why did this happen to me?
People with cancer often ask, “What did I do wrong?” or “Why me?” Doctors don’t know for sure what causes cancer. When doctors can’t give a cause, people may come up with their own ideas about why it happened.
Some people think they’re being punished for something they did or didn’t do in the past. Most people wonder if they did something to cause the cancer.
If you’re having these feelings, you’re not alone. Thoughts and beliefs like this are common for people with cancer. You need to know that cancer is not a punishment for your past actions. Try to not blame yourself or focus on looking for ways you might have prevented cancer. Cancer is not your fault, and there’s almost never a way to find out what caused it. Instead, focus on taking good care of yourself now.
Your American Cancer Society can tell you more about cancer and cancer treatment. Call 1-800-227-2345 anytime, day or night.
How to talk to your loved ones about cancer
It can be hard to talk about cancer, even with the people you love. Learning you have cancer can stir many feelings, such as sadness, anger, and fear. Sometimes it’s hard to know how you’re feeling, much less talk to others about it.
Your loved ones may also have a hard time talking about cancer. It’s not easy for them to know what to say to help you or make you feel better.
Here are some tips to help you and your loved ones deal with cancer:
Tell your family and friends about your cancer as soon as you feel up to it. Sooner or later, they’ll all know you have cancer. They might feel hurt or left out if they haven’t heard about it from you.
When you talk to them, explain what kind of cancer you have and how it will be treated. Let them know that no one can catch it from you.
Allow friends and family to help you, and tell them what kind of help you need. If you need a ride to the doctor’s office or hospital, let them know. If you need help around the house, let them know that, too. There may be times when you’re not sure what you need. That’s OK. Just let them know you aren’t sure, but you’ll let them know when you are.
Tell the people who are closest to you how you feel. This may not be easy, but it can be a very important way to get the support you need when you need it most. If you have trouble talking about your feelings, you might find a support group or a mental health counselor to help you.
If you have friends or family who tell you to “cheer up” when you’re not feeling good, it’s OK to ask them to just listen, and not tell you what to do. Sometimes you need to talk about what’s going on without getting advice in return.
If some people are not OK with talking about your feelings, don’t be upset. Try talking to others who might listen.
You may not be able to do things you were doing before you got cancer. If that’s true, let your family and friends know.
It’s best for your family and friends to keep doing the things they did before you had cancer. They should not feel guilty about doing this.
If you’re feeling sad or depressed, talk to your doctor, nurse, or religious leader. You can also call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.
“The first time you say, ‘I have cancer’ out loud is the hardest. The more you say it, the easier it becomes to say the words. The more I talked about my breast cancer, the easier it was for me to accept what I was going through. I found it odd that I sometimes had to cheer up those I was telling about my cancer.” – Helen, cancer survivor
Cancer words you may hear
These are words that you may hear your cancer care team use.
Benign (be-NINE): a tumor that’s not cancer
Biopsy (BY-op-see): taking out a piece of tissue to see if cancer cells are in it
Cancer (CAN-sur): a word used to describe more than 100 diseases in which cells grow out of control; or a tumor with cancer in it
Chemotherapy (key-mo-THER-uh-pee): the use of drugs to treat disease. The word most often refers to drugs used to treat cancer. Sometimes it’s just called “chemo.”
Malignant (muh-LIG-nunt): having cancer in it
Metastasis/Metastasized (meh-TAS-tuh-sis/meh-TAS-tuh-sized): the spread of cancer cells to distant parts of the body through the lymph system or bloodstream
Oncologist (on-KAHL-uh-jist): a doctor who treats people who have cancer
Radiation therapy (ray-dee-A-shun THER-uh-pee): the use of high-energy rays, like x-rays, to treat cancer
Remission (re-MISH-un): when signs or symptoms of cancer are all or partly gone
Stage: a word that tells whether a cancer has spread, and if so, how far
How can I learn more about my cancer?
If you have questions about cancer or need help finding resources in your area, please call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. We're there when you need us – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.