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Top Ten! Coming at ya!

May 2, 2012

In honor of my love for a list, I have compiled a top ten things to do when you are diagnosed with cancer:

1. Breathe! Right now. Immediately after they tell you. It will feel like you can’t but do it anyway. Your body knows how, just let go.

2. Accept every offer of assistance that you receive. Turn no one away. Start with the folks that you think are the least sincere. Serves them right for offering and gets you free food!

3. Learn to wait with patience. Bring something with you to every appointment. Not just something to read or listen, bring something to do with your hands. I am going to take knitting. I am going to start knitting in the office and rating the visit by the number of rows I complete. Don’t be surprised when my Christmas presents are all sweaters and socks!

4. Set your expectations low–at least when it comes to getting the show on the road. This is a slow process and the delivery system is flawed and overworked. It is going to take more time than you want it to take to get appointments, get scheduled, get results, get a plan, get on with it. There is not much you can do about it.

5. When you are anywhere but the hospital or the doctor’s office start every sentence with “I have cancer…”. You will be surprised what it will get you! Don’t try this within the healthcare world. It won’t have the same effect.

6. Do not attempt to be articulate in the presence of your oncologist for at least the first four visits. I am not sure if it is capable on the fifth visit, I just know it isn’t on the first four.

7. Do not pride yourself on having made the medical student cry. It is a hollow and fleeting victory.

8. Take naps. As often as possible.

9. Do not apologize. You will be inclined to do so because you will be inconveniencing people left and right. You have cancer now, that is your job.

10. I can’t think of number ten right now but don’t judge me. I am new at this.

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