Q: How to deal with a bad diagnosis? How to live with uncertainty, how to conquer anxiety?
A: The answer must relate to what the person concerned has made experiences with, what he or she knows about the illness and what her or his personal attitude is. It is easy for a lecturer to advise, “Keep calm, think about it and analyse what to do next …” Listening and responding to the person inquiring is very important. Very often he or she wants to ask, “Will I survive or must I die now?” and/or “Will it be painful? What can I expect from my family? Will they stay by me? Will they accept me as an adequate with this diagnosis or will they always take me for the one who is suffering an illness?” – Then there are the questions concerning the therapy, “Will I have to be operated or will I have to make chemotherapy? What about the quality of life? Will alternative medicine help or will they consider me irresponsible if I decide on it?”
The first question leads to other questions, always related to the inner balance of the person asking, respectively how the person asked reacts. One only will find out afterwards if the discussion was constructive. It was constructive and good when the person who was asking for advice is then contented and able to live in a more harmonic way, even if dealing with the illness. It was not good if the person is afterwards more uncertain and angst-ridden than before.
Q: Should the person who got a bad diagnosis ask for a second opinion?
A: Of course, it makes sense to ask another doctor for a second opinion. The point is if the person concerned has energy enough, is able to keep distance and to go through another check-up. Unfortunately it is not easy to get results by laboratories and medical institutes, so that you sometimes have to do the check-ups once again. And it can happen that you get a bad diagnosis, particularly if you are diagnosed with cancer of the colon, they start the therapies, one gets an artificial anus/a colostomy bag, goes through chemotherapy, and finally there is check-up and one is diagnosed only with a “harmless” polypus. In this case the patient has to deal with the therapy´s side-effects, this can be very disagreeable and stressful.
Q: Is it a good advice to start research on an illness in books and on Internet for yourself? Or would you recommend to join self-help groups, to share there health experience, to discuss remedies and therapies?
A: To inform yourself is always good, but is difficult to work out if is from a good authority. Books written by traditional/academic oncologists recommend traditional/academic therapies. Alternative doctors very often recommend exclusively alternative medicine. It would be very wise to combine both therapies – in the correct order. One has to communicate with doctors and therapists, this takes a lot of time. To discuss in self-help groups is not automatically the solution to the problem as the people there sometimes only compare individual notes on their positive respectively negative experience. What is good for one person must not be good for another.
Be interested in what the doctors advise, what the therapists propose and what the people in self-help groups discuss – and try to find the best solution for your special situation. Trust yourself to make decisions, trust in your decision-making abilities!