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Dave Balch: Don't Go There

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Let’s face it; you just can’t control everything, especially when you or a loved one is sick. Some things, yes, but not everything.

The problem is that trying to control things that are uncontrollable will drive you crazy, adding considerable stress to your already over-stressed life. So don’t do it… just leave them alone and concentrate on the things that you CAN control. Easy to say; hard to do.

Case in point: my wife’s radiation treatment for breast cancer. As it turned out, her treatments were going to be every day, Monday through Friday, for six weeks from Dec 1 through Jan 15. We live in the mountains and had to go down to the city for each treatment, but that time of year is prime for snow and other weather hazards. I started to worry about it; what if she missed an appointment, or what if we couldn’t get back home after a treatment or, even worse, what if we got stuck in the middle?

It was very stressful until I realized that I couldn’t control the treatment schedule, locations, or weather. All of it was out of my hands.

That’s when I came up with this little saying, “Don’t go there ‘til you get there.” In other words, don’t worry about until it happens. Again, easy to say but hard to do.

That doesn’t mean, however that you can’t prepare for what may happen. We all wear seat belts, don’t we?? The preparation alone will give you a sense of control and, if something does happen you’ll be ready.

If the weather was bad, we prepared by bringing food and blankets, arranging for care for our animals in case we didn’t get home, and bringing extra medications, etc. in case we had to spend the night. Other than that, there wasn’t much we could do but I felt much better about the whole thing.

Remember this little phrase; “Don’t go there ‘til you get there.” – you will use it just about every day. I cannot overemphasize this, as I hear it so often on feedback forms and from comments following my speeches around the country.

Don’t believe me? Just wait and see!

This article is one in a series on coping strategies for patients and caregivers alike.

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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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