The Elephant in the Room is Cancer. Tea is the Relief Conversation Provides.

My Cancer Rider

by Sheena Harris-WilliamsPatient, Neuroendocrine CancerMay 5, 2022View more posts from Sheena Harris-Williams

My Cancer Rider

And no I’m not referring to an insurance policy add-on. I’m talking about the type of thing celebrities have. You know, only green M&Ms in the candy dish or black toilet paper ready and waiting in the bathroom. Okay, maybe not that extreme, but you get my point. A cancer rider is a list of guidelines you want yourself or others to follow to make dealing with your cancer a bit easier. Because let’s face it, dealing with cancer is hard. It can be a full time job even. And whatever you can do to make it easier for yourself, do it!

Since being diagnosed I’ve developed a new attitude for things I will and won’t allow in my life. Right now, it’s crucial for me to only do what’s going to be best for me and my health, physically and emotionally. I’m currently in the battle for my life. My body is working overtime. My mental health is taking a beating. I have no extra time to deal with things that aren’t beneficial to my mind or body.

So, I want you to take some time to sit down and think about what you need. What does [insert your name here] want? Come up with your own version of a cancer rider. Make your own rules. Ask yourself some questions. For instance, on treatment days do you want to come home and lay in bed alone and watch Netflix? Or do you prefer to have some company? Be honest with yourself. Do you want to make it a rule that you take more time out for self care? Maybe every Thursday night you can set aside some time to give yourself a facial or paint your nails.

If this concept still seems far-fetched, think of it this way. Your loved ones may feel at a loss on how to support you. They may not know what to do or say on the days you’re not feeling your best. They just know they want to be there for you. So this is a way to help you help them…which in turn helps you.

A cancer rider doesn’t need to be written down and passed out to all of your family and friends. It doesn’t need to be posted on the front door of your house. But maybe it can help open up a dialogue between you and others.

Here are a few things on my list:

  1. Do not talk or ask about my cancer unless I bring it up. Please don’t kill my vibe. If we’re out having a good time, I don’t want to be brought down with a discussion about my health. Let’s just live in the moment and forget about things.
  2. On the days chemo is kicking my butt, I just want to lay in bed with a good book or a great movie. I have no interest in going to the mall or hanging out with people. Putting on pants is the last thing I feel like doing. Please don’t try to force me to do anything.
  3. Probably my biggest pet peeve is someone trying to fill me up with positivity. At this point, it’s not really my thing. It does nothing to bring me comfort or feel better about my situation. I don’t want to be reminded that I’m the strongest warrior capable of fighting this battle. I don’t want to be told everything will be alright.
  4. On appointment days, I treat myself to something nice. Mentally, it’s a draining day. No matter how routine the appointment is. No matter if I’m just getting blood work. I do something to show appreciation to myself for still going after everything I’ve been through. Usually it’s stopping at my favorite restaurant near my oncologist’s office to get a burger and milkshake. Or I’ll do a little online shopping to give me something to look forward to. Nothing’s better than having delivery boxes show up on your front doorstep.

These are just a few of the things I have on my cancer rider. I’d love to hear what you have on yours!

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