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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

My Survivorship A to Z Guide

Day to Day Living Important

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Note: This is a sample Survivorship A to Z Guide for a fictitious person we call Ellen. She is just diagnosed with Breast Cancer. To view a summary of her answers which led to this Guide, click here.

To get your own free, computer-generated A to Z Guide, click here.

Think about who to tell about your diagnosis. Not telling anyone is not a realistic option. Consider who to tell. You can always add more people later. Be prepared for all kinds of reactions.

When deciding who to tell about your breast cancer, consider:

  • Which of your family and friends you desire to tell.
  • When you want to tell them.
  • What you want to tell.
  • There is no reason to feel any shame about breast cancer, or even the possibility of a mastectomy. As the saying goes: "Shit happens." You are not your breasts. Your breasts do not define your sexuality.
  • The need to talk about your emotions. There can be a very heavy toll to pay when you have someone close to you, with whom you share life and emotions, who doesn't know about your diagnosis. You will need to constantly stay on guard because every conversation could unintentionally reveal your secret.
  • Once you tell someone, you can't take it back.

When thinking about what you want to say:

  • Consider making it clear that you want to be treated as a person living with a disease -- not a victim -- and not the disease. You are the same person you were. Your priorities may be shifting, but not who you are.
  • It may not seem fair that putting other people at ease about your health condition is part of your job, but it often is. Telling is likely to stir up their own mortality issues.
  • Let people know whether you want them to censor what they say to you, and, if so, how.
  • Tell people that you need and appreciate their support.
  • Let people know about the unpredictable emotional roller coaster that hits you.

Be prepared for all possible reactions, including the possibility of anger.

  • Be understanding of their emotional reaction.
  • Be patient with people.
  • Give people time to absorb the information -- perhaps to even meet with a professional themselves.

There is likely to be a change in the way people view you, but there is no easy way to predict what that will be. Other people's reactions could range from treating you with sympathy, to the other extreme of avoiding you as much as possible, to anywhere in between.

Nobody said this was going to be easy.

People may start responding to you differently because they may think of you as a victim or that you have a death sentence. Educate them. If that doesn't work, you can keep a distance while feeling particuarly vunerable. [Tell me more]

There are always survivors. There is no reason why you shouldn't be one of them. 

Educate people who show this kind of attitude. Let them know that you need support, and how you need that support to show up.

If people with these negative attitudes start to effect you, you can take a break from seeing them until you feel stronger or they start to understand your reality. What other people think can be contagious.