An idiot’s guide to surviving the first week of diagnosis

It’s been one week now since I left hospital and I am not due to meet my neurosurgeon until the middle of next week. Excuse the pun but I still can’t get my head around it – I have a brain tumour! Even the fact I will be having an appointment with a neurosurgeon is something I thought I’d never have to say. The only neurosurgeon I’ve ever been interested in is Derek Shephard aka McDreamy! Fingers crossed my guy is as good as the fictitious character from Grey’s Anatomy.

So what do you do when you receive devastating news and all you can do is wait?

Well this is my second time dealing with this kind of news and I do think I have learnt from my previous experience. I would not wish it upon anyone but should you ever find yourself in a similar situation here are a few tips which have got me through the past week.

Support System

I am so lucky to have a solid support system. For those who have followed my blog since my experience with cervical cancer you will be familiar with the top team of Iceberg, Buggernuts and the Funny Boy. I’m delighted to say I have an additional side kick this time and that is my miniature dachshund Parsnip. Since being diagnosed she has barely left my side – even in hospital she came to visit me twice a day. This support system also includes my AMAZING friends who have driven across the country to be with me, took responsibility for breaking the news to others and even gifted me their final can of Irn Bru with the original recipe! So identify your support system, use them and remember like a good bra they are there to lift you up, make you look better and never leave you hanging!

Practise Self Compassion

There are a lot of thoughts and emotions being processed. I am also experiencing major paranoia: ‘is it the fact I’m simply forgetting things due to stress or is it my brain tumour eating my memory?!’ The best thing to do is be selfish – or to put it another way – practise some self compassion. I know from experience how crappy cancer treatment can make you feel so in anticipation I have allowed myself to do the things that make me happy. For me this has largely included surrounding myself with friends and family, enjoying the sunshine, BBQs and kayaking! Lots of kayaking! Find what makes you happy and do it!

Allow Yourself To Be

I have been overwhelmed with messages from family and friends telling me I am strong –  I will indulge my ego and agree. But being strong for me is knowing ‘it’s ok to not be ok’. For the large part of the last week I have felt upbeat – but there are moments when fear creeps in: When I wonder what the future holds. When I lie in bed scared to close my eyes in case I wake up to find a room full of paramedics again or worse. So how do I cope? I allow myself to feel those emotions and I talk about it. I confide in the Funny Boy, I prioritise a trip to Maggie’s and if necessary I have a little cry. Inevitably I always feel better after allowing myself to just be and letting off some steam.

Make Plans

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a planner. The weekend before my diagnosis I was updating my various calendars and realised I was not due to have a weekend free until the 14th July! As someone who loves my job this isn’t as intimidating as it might sound but it did highlight my work/life balance was maybe off-kilter. To go from jam-packed diary to being signed off work for at least a month is unnerving especially when it easy to allow negative thoughts of cancer to occupy your time. My remedy? Make plans for the short and long term. So next week the Funny Boy and I are booking that table at the restaurant we really like, we are having a spa day and – health permitting we are planning some day trips with Parsnip. Equally as important we have picked up some travel brochures and are planning our next overseas adventure!

On that note – I hope you have some great plans for the bank holiday! Thanks for reading and as always #FUCANCER!

http://fucancer.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/56ccc490-c672-4dc3-89bf-0da73b861d42.mov

5 thoughts on “An idiot’s guide to surviving the first week of diagnosis

  1. You are an inspiration Heather, thoughts are with you all and if there is anything we can do let us know, babysitting parsnip included 👍🏻

  2. What an inspiring, positive and beautifully written blog Heather. So so sorry to hear your devastating news – how truly unfair it all is. But the way you are dealing with it though is so inspiring. I will be following your blog and thinking of you. Sending you lots of love from all of us. xxxx

  3. We are so very sad to hear your devastating news and are thinking of you at this difficult time. Just knowing you are not alone and have such a strong network of friends around you will hopefully be of some comfort as you prepare for the battle ahead. All our love and prayers. Alan and Anne

  4. Hey Hev, just caught up on reading your blog and am truly inspired by your writing and attitude, you’re an amazing woman with a wonderful support team. Will keep following your news , give bugger it’s a hug from me, I’m well impressed with his running efforts. If health permits and you ever make it as far as Sydney make sure you come visit. Keep smiling and kayaking xxx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *