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Julie Wilkinson, BSN, RN

Dealing with Diagnosis

By February 28, 2013

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Two weeks ago, my car decided to die on a one-lane highway in the middle of nowhere. One week ago, I got a speeding ticket for going two miles over the posted speed limit. Yesterday, my son had a 102 degree temperature and I missed yet another day of work. Sounds like a bad month, but nothing, and I mean nothing, prepares you for hearing that you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer.

Between the colon cancer forum, social media and private emails, I have been repeatedly asked if I am a cancer survivor. I don't take it personally - it's human nature to want to identify with one another through grief and shared experience. The answer is simple. No, I've never been diagnosed with cancer.

In caveat, I have stood by the bedside of many family members, friends, and patients as I heard those words - the branding of a cancer diagnosis -- proclaimed. In response, I've heard everything exclaimed from,"What am I going to tell my wife and children?" to "It must be a mistake!" No, I don't know how I would personally react if diagnosed with cancer - but I've learned this: It's how I react in that moment that will begin to shape my fight against the disease. I've watched it myriad times and can tell you the moment someone will choose to fight cancer and win, or the second all fight has drained out of them and they are ready to quit.

How you choose to deal with being diagnosed with cancer is very personal. You may take off on a rage or huddle in a pile of guilt. Fact is, there is no wrong or right way to deal with it. As long as you do - deal, that is. You may enter the famous stages of grief with denial at the forefront, or jump straight into anger and disbelief. But hold onto this thought throughout your journey: Cancer is No Longer a Death Sentence. If caught early, many types of colon cancer are treatable. I welcome you to join the Colon Cancer Forum here on About.com, where hopefully you can find people - friends - in a safe place to vent, form bonds, and find answers to your innermost questions.

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