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Dave Balch: It's Scary. Do it Anyway.

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This is the first in a series of coping strategies for patients and caregivers alike.

When a scary diagnosis comes down, I think it’s only natural to want to hide your head in the sand and hope it goes away. Believe me when I tell you that it won’t.

What you have to do is learn as much as possible about your condition and do it right away. It will be one of the scariest things you’ll ever do, but here’s the thing to remember: no matter what you learn, no matter how scary it is, it’s better to know than not to know. It’s a funny thing about human nature; even if you find out that you are going to be in for, say, treatments that scare you to death, just knowing about it will allow you to get used to the idea and it will become less and less onerous.

I travel the country speaking about coping strategies; in the process I meet a lot of medical professionals and I usually ask them the best and hardest parts of doing what they do. One of the things I often hear is how hard it is to see a patient come in whose disease has progressed beyond the scope of treatment because they waited too long to seek treatment.

One instance in particular was about a young woman with breast cancer who had felt the lump MONTHS ago but didn’t do anything about it because she was afraid of what she would hear. By the time she finally came in for treatment it was too late; the cancer had spread to many parts of her body and all they could do was make her comfortable and watch her die. How tragic is that, considering that there were effective treatments for her disease and she could have lived to a ripe old age?

Face your fear and jump into the fray with both feet; it could very well save your life, literally. Had the young woman in our example done that she would have discovered that it wasn’t so scary after all, and probably wouldn’t have been so afraid to face the treatments. And she’d be alive today.

For more thoughts on caregiving, coping strategies, and just plain fun subscribe to my free monthly newsletter at www.CaringAndCoping.com.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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