HPV Cancer Resources

Helpful Information for Parents, Patients, Partners, and Providers

Helpful Information for Parents, Patients, Partners, and Providers

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Every Cancer Patient’s Journey is Different

Getting a cancer diagnosis is anything but easy. There’s a lot of fear and worry floating about, whether you’re dealing with this alone, or facing this with loved ones. Prognoses are uncertain. People expect that there are physical challenges ahead, with surgery, chemo, or radiation likely in the offing. One thing a lot of people don’t understand, however, is how the diagnosis is just as challenging mentally. Decisions will need to be made, accommodations put in place, financial burdens will need to be overcome. Uncertainty will reign supreme. You will learn the meaning of the term “scanxiety”, which refers to the anxiety cancer patients suffer while awaiting the results of their latest CT/MRI/PET scan. I’ve written about the 12 Lessons Learned from My Cancer Diagnosis, and you may find this information helpful. Or not. Despite the fact that you have gotten the same diagnosis of thousands of other patients, your path forward will be different from theirs. Part of this is because we all bring different life experiences into the doctors office with us. Another part is that the cancer cells themselves will be unique, like snowflakes. They will share many features with other cancer cells, but they will all be different at the level of their genes. Many cancer patients feel the burden of living up to some idealized image, that of the stoic patient who endures their treatments without complaint and somehow emerges from the ordeal changed for the better. That’s a lot to ask of someone. If you take that path, that’s great, but that is not a responsibility that you need to bear.

I reached out to several cancer patients following my diagnosis for reading suggestions, and the best one I got was Viktor E. Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. It’s a memoir written by a Jewish psychiatrist who spent time in four Nazi concentration camps. His parents, brother, and pregnant wife were all killed. Every day he dealt with the greatest indignities imaginable, with a very reasonable possibility that it could easily be his last. What does this have to do with cancer? He ultimately figured out that, like cancer patients, he was unable to make the thing that was making his life terrible go away. This led to an understanding that when people face these challenges, the only thing we can really change is how we respond to them. You can’t cure cancer, but you can try to figure out a way to make the best of the situation. This, too, is not an easy undertaking, but you may find this book helpful.

Please take a look at the other pages in this Patient Information section of the website for info on:
Newly Diagnosed? First Steps
Second Opinions
Mental Health
Head and Neck Cancer Treatments
Cancer Staging
Clinical Trial Basics
Recurrent and Metastatic Disease
Financial Help
HPV Cancer Support/Advocacy Groups
Resources for Patients and Caregivers
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One of my hobbies is writing song lyrics for classic jazz instrumentals. Below is Overcoming Problems, my adaptation of Duke Jordan’s No Problem. It’s an unsparing look at the many challenges cancer patients face, both physically and mentally, but with an uplifting message. Feel free to share the link to the YouTube page if you enjoy the song.


Just to be clear: I am NOT a doctor. The information contained in this website is NOT intended as a recommendation for the self management of health problems, medical conditions, or wellness. It is not intended to endorse or recommend any particular type of medical treatment, physician, or treatment facility. Should any reader have any health care related questions, I strongly suggest you call or consult your physician or healthcare provider before looking into other things on the internet. The information contained in this website should NOT be used by any reader to disregard medical and/or health related advice or provide a basis to delay consultation with a physician or a qualified healthcare provider. HPV Cancer Resources disclaims any liability based on information provided in this website.