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  • Chloe McElmury

How to Support Yourself on a Thyroid Cancer Journey

Updated: Mar 14, 2022

First, I just want to remind you that even when or if you feel completely alone and like you are on this journey all by yourself, that is never true. I know how alone you can feel in this cancer journey, especially if you also live on your own or don’t have friends or family nearby. The burden of cancer is a LOT, and we aren’t meant to do it alone. Even if you think it’s easier, I promise it’s not going to be in the long run. And, please take it from me, to seek and ask for help sooner rather than later.

Well Being/ Life Balance Tips:

  • Start a dedicated folder or notebook for everything cancer related. You can keep track of costs, appointments, feelings and notes, all in one place.

  • Build in self care. Self care can look like a lot of different things, it might be what you might think of immediately when hearing the word–lots of spa-like atmospheres, relaxing, taking care of your physical health, but it can also mean staying on top of things so that you don’t get surprised and stressed out or feel unprepared. I think self care incorporates a lot of habits, which is hard for me. I have the worst time forming new habits, but self-care is all about those little things that add up each week and month and even just each day, that contribute to your well being.

  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are some tips to help balance your mind back:

  • Take a deep breath, and take a step away. Whether this is from a person, a project, or a hospital bill, physically make space between you and the object. Return after some deep breaths.

  • Create a no-can-do list. Your time and space are sacred, so spend them how you WANT to spend them. While I’d encourage to get out and see people here and there, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by an event, it’s okay to say no. While you can’t really do that for appointments or bloodwork, even though sometimes you might want to, this might look like setting aside time the night before you have an appointment to just relax and prepare.

  • Be kind to yourself! I love this, not just because it’s nice, but also because I have definitely not always been kind to myself, and even still now. I used to think things like why me, why am i being punished, in regards to having cancer. Especially having it so many times like me. However, we need to give ourselves more grace in adjusting to a survivor life and that’s okay.

  • Ask for help. Feeling overwhelmed by making dinner each night, ask a friend if they can bring by a meal! Even just chatting with a friend for a little bit can be so helpful to give things off of your chest. Sometimes I’ll text my friends saying Hey, I just need to have a little rant about something, and then they say go for it, and then i send a huge text and I feel so much better afterwards!

  • Lastly, write it out! Use a journal or the notes app on your phone to just word vomit whats on your mind. It’s private, and you can just get it all out of you and onto paper, physically or digitally.

Financial Support:

  • Ask your clinic for what resources they have internally, and also for their recommendations. When I was hit with a $19,000 cancer bill, my hospital took away 60% of that balance just because I was accepted to their financial assistance program.

  • Most clinics offer a payment plan even without the financial assistance to pay a certain amount each month. The only alleviation you might need to feel better is just that lower, monthly payment, no matter how long it’s for.

  • A great option for when you don’t have help available are cancer organizations that help cancer patients. One that I found online is called Cancer Care, they have support groups, case management, counseling, education, and financial assistance. I would bet you are better off finding a general cancer organization like this over a thyroid cancer specific one, but never say never. You can also check out Thyca and ATA.

I hope those ideas help you, and help you to feel less alone.

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