I received the very sad news yesterday morning that my father has cancer. In fact, I got the phone call literally as I was in the parking lot going into work for the day. It felt like I got punched in the chest.
Here I am a little over a day later with a new perspective about the whole thing. I thought it would be helpful to share what’s been going on with me, because this thinking process- a change in perspective - also relates very well when dealing with something that really troubles you, such as living with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks.
So back to yesterday- I went on about my day at work, but my thoughts never strayed very far from the cancer diagnosis. I felt very powerless and helpless and sad. It did feel good to stay busy, and in between caring for my patients and other nursing duties I started to brainstorm what could I do to help the situation…
I shared my news with a co-worker who I like very much. This lady happens to be a widow, having lost her husband to cancer 7 years ago. We talked on and off throughout our shift and somewhere in there, she made a suggestion that my dad should go to a major cancer center for treatment.
That I believe was the message I was intended to hear. I became determined in that minute that come hell or high water, my dad was going to go to Sloane Kettering Hospital in New York City. (This is one of the best, if not THE best, cancer hospitals in the country, and it is not too far from where I live).
My decision was only confirmed when I got home later that evening and was able to talk to my parents at length. His next scheduled procedure was in a month. In…a…month…I was shocked. To me, this was totally unacceptable.
I called the surgeon after hours and persisted until he called me back. I asked him “If my father has cancer today and you are concerned about this large tumor, then why does he have to wait a month to get in to see you again?”
His answer was some bull about that being handled by the scheduling department and they are really busy. “Not that your father isn’t important, but everyone else is important too.”
I hung up and felt like my blood pressure was through the roof. My father has been having symptoms for over a year and it was only recently that someone at this small town hospital he goes to even thought scan his bladder- where the tumors are.
I decided that what my co-worked suggested was right on. I HAVE to get him to a major cancer center- and right away.
This morning I contacted Sloane Kettering. It took some leg work and shuffling of schedules and waiting on hold, and getting blood work and faxes and doctor reports sent, and gently coaxing my parents to go along with this plan, but I did it. I took action.
I was able to get my dad in to see a specialist who treats bladder cancer and get this- he is going to see him in 5 days. Not one month.
To tell you I have a new perspective on this situation is putting it lightly. I know that my dad is now in the right hands and going to the right hospital for treatment.
So what has changed in this situation?
He still has cancer.
The tumors are still there.
But- I now have a new perspective about the situation. I now know with all my heart that he will receive the very best of care.
I am relieved, so is my dad, and so is my whole family. I feel a deep sense of peace, and for that I am grateful.
What can this teach us about coping with anxiety?
That a new perspective can change the whole game. It really can. If you see your situation with anxiety as bleak and hopeless, then it surely will live up to your expectations. What you think on you come to believe as true. And you just can’t get better that way.
But on the other hand, when you affirm that anxiety is highly treatable and acknowledge that you are strong and capable of healing, when you plant this seed in your thoughts and believe it with your whole heart, it will surely come to be.
Then you act on this choice and take little action steps every day towards getting out there and recovering.
By choosing the better hospital for my father- all doubts and fears about his medical care have been removed and replaced with confidence.
It may be a long road, but I know we are on the right path.
By choosing to see that your anxiety is nothing more than a really really bad habit- and by choosing to believe you can get better- this too removes all doubts and fears that you will be ok.
With anxiety, you have a lot of wrong erratic thinking getting bottled up and suppressed in your mind. But this can change.
I am changing it in my life.
And you most certainly can too.
It may be a long road, but you will be on the right path.
If you feel hopeless and helpless because anxiety and panic has knocked you on your ass- please know: A new perspective can make all the difference.
Know that you are strong and you have what it takes to get better. And know that this is your God-given right. Take heart- and let this knowledge fuel you through your journey.
I wish you peace.
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