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Coping with Stress: Making Plans in Uncertain Times

By Blogger
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When you are dealing with cancer or another serious illness, whether as the patient or caregiver, your life will never be quite the same for any one of a number of reasons: you may have physical impairments caused by the illness, you may fear recurrence, etc. Whatever after-affects you feel, they will affect your ability to plan for the future and that, my friends, can cause enormous stress.

Something that we found to be quite stressful was making plans when we were uncertain about the future. My wife, Chris, had been through breast cancer and then, 18 months later, the cancer reappeared throughout her skeleton. After more chemo and radiation the cancer seemed to have disappeared and life went back to normal; perhaps I should say “as normal as it could be under the circumstances.” That was late 2005 and the demon cancer always lurked in the background of our minds, however, so how are we supposed to make any big plans when it might come back?

I’m here to tell you that you should not put your life on hold because of something that MIGHT happen. If you did, you would never do anything ever again! Given that you aren’t going to stop living, you have a couple of options: you can forge ahead and ignore potential problems with the attitude that you will deal with it if it happens, or you can go ahead cautiously, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

Naturally, a factor in this will be the size of the project or venture that you are planning. I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to make dinner reservations; planning a vacation in Europe, though, is different!

Here’s an example: I am an avid eclipse chaser, following total eclipses of the sun all over the world. I intend to go to every eclipse for the rest of my life, and the next eclipse after my wife’s cancer recurrence was going to be March 26, 2006. Naturally I wanted to go, and since we would enjoy this one from a cruise ship in the Mediterranean Chris wanted to go with me. How can we make plans to go on an eclipse cruise when her cancer might come back? Is this a good idea? What if the cancer returned and we couldn’t go? It seemed kind of risky to me, almost reckless.

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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.