Living With Pancreatic Cancer

While most of us know friends or family members who have been diagnosed with some form of cancer, nothing can ever prepare us for a diagnosis of our own. The initial diagnosis of any cancer, let alone pancreatic cancer, can be devastating. However, treating and curing cancer is one of the world’s highest medical priorities, with breakthroughs right around the corner.

There Is Hope

To be sure, pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of the disease. Further, having an advanced form of pancreatic cancer can add to what is already an emotional and a physical strain. However, there is always a course of treatment and no patient should ever lose hope that they can fight the disease.

You and your loved ones will feel a wide range of emotions. These emotions may include fear, anxiety, denial, anger and even depression. All of these feelings are as normal as they are manageable. We encourage our patients and their families to begin talking about the disease – between themselves and with our multi-disciplinary team. After all, knowledge of one’s situation truly is power and having a clear mind when fighting pancreatic cancer is of utmost importance.

First, it is important that you speak to your medical team to understand more about the disease itself, how it affects you in particular, and possible treatment plans. While we all want a definitive prognosis, cancer affects each of us differently. So it is important that you process statistics in a measured manner.

Second, bearing in mind that diseases such as cancer affect both the patients and their loved ones, we cannot overstate the importance of speaking openly and candidly to family members, who will be the primary support team through all phases of treatment. Some patients find that speaking to other cancer patients can help them all stay stronger during this very difficult time.

Physical Health

We want you to fight this disease with strength, both emotionally and physically.

You may or may not have been in top physical form when you were diagnosed with cancer. However, the power of physical fitness and strength is clear. Not only does physical fitness give you more strength during a course of treatment, but it also has a positive effect on state of mind, which is very advantageous during this period of emotional stress.

Exercise, including going to the gym, playing team sports or relaxation such as yoga can prepare your mind and body for the course of treatment ahead. It is important to understand your limits and ramp up slowly in your exercise regimen. That said, we encourage regular exercise whenever possible and within the boundaries of your abilities.

Diet will also play a key role in fighting cancer. You may be placed on a diet as part of your treatment program – please do stick to it, as it is specifically created to assist with your comfort and ongoing health.

Creating a support team

Cancer has become a part of modern life and as such there is no shortage of support for newly diagnosed cancer patients. We strongly suggest that those with a diagnosis immediately begin to find support from peers, friends and family that they can count on to be by their side during the tough times. A comprehensive support team will often include:

  • Your medical team and specialists
  • Your friends and family
  • A counselor or therapist
  • Other cancer patients
  • Regular cancer support groups

Many patients believe that they can go it alone. As such, they tend to shy away from the help of a professional counselor or therapist. However, using the services of a clinical professional does not imply weakness, rather a sign of great strength. Not only is it a step toward acceptance of a major hurdle in your life, but is also a very clear signal to yourself and others that you are willing and ready to fight this disease. In speaking to a professional, you will not only learn more about yourself, but you may be able to help and inspire others around you.

Staying positive

It is much easier said than done; however a positive attitude does indeed make a big difference in your fight against cancer. Being positive does not mean that you must be happy all the time or that you should ignore your fears and anxieties. Rather, staying positive gives you the opportunity to look at your disease as what will likely be the greatest challenge your life and work together with those around you to fight and beat it.

There will be times where you will feel frustration and outright anger. There will also be times where are you may want to put on a brave face in spite of fears that may be overwhelming you inside. This is perfectly normal. However, don’t feel that you need to hide your emotions in order to stay positive. Rather, you have every reason to talk about them and even vent, keeping an eye on your safety and the safety of those around you.

Yes, cancer is an insidious disease that affects every part of your life and the lives of those you love – pancreatic cancer even more so, due to its aggressiveness. However it is not a foregone conclusion. All of us here at the Pancreas Health Program will be by your side during your fight.