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Finding out you have cancer can trigger a whole range of emotions.

We all know that we can’t live forever

A cancer diagnosis is a tough way of hammering that message home.

This can be used positively, increasingly we are all hearing about the benefits of living in the moment and making the most of our time rather than planning for a distant future.

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One of the first things many people encounter is everyone asking the same thing – what is wrong? what can I do to help? While this is nice it can be really draining. Some people make standard cards and letters or emails to explain this once and send it to all their friends. Social media can help here too. You could also ask a friend to do this for you.

There are some great calendar tools available if you want to co-ordinate visits, meals and care for children – again this can take the strain out of your time.

With time feeling limited it is really important to create space to do what you want – try putting down the top three things you want to do and then figure out how to do them. It is a positive focus over and above dealing with the stresses of cancer. Go on write that song, poem, paint the picture – visit the Taj Mahal!

Preparing for important meetings such as seeing the consultant is actually really important. Prioritise this time. Allow plenty of time before hand for travel and parking. Prepare the questions you want to ask and ideally bring someone with you as most of us will only retain a small percentage of what we are told. Bringing a pen and paper to take notes also really helps in this regard.

Think about your support network, who will help and get talking. This will help you avoid difficult crunch points. Making the effort to get help and support will repay dividends.

Tips for helping a cancer survivor with their time

  • Get a list of who they want to keep informed
  • Compose some standard letters or posts with them – to avoid being overwhelmed with calls.
  • Find out when their medical appointments are, help with transport, childcare, or joining them at the doctors if that is what they want
  • Chat through what they want to do with their time, help it happen – if will be fun
  • Above all be there without pushing – help when they need it

Getting help with finances
if you get cancer

Coping with a cancer diagnosis is challenging enough without having to worry about finances. These days it is so difficult to have “rainy day” savings to help at these times but there are some affordable insurance policies which will pay you a cash lump sum on diagnosis of cancer to help you stop money worries and let you focus on getting better.

If you have, or have had cancer, you might not be eligible for insurance, but there are still some excellent resources available, Macmillan in particular offer specialised support for cancer patients with money worries.

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Real life stories

Ruth Taylor, 45, is a mum of two who was diagnosed with breast cancer back in May 2016. We are honoured to share her journey from initial diagnosis, informing her family, through to chemo and radiotherapy. She hopes to raise awareness and educate others about breast cancer, while firmly kicking cancer back where it belongs.

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