An invitation to reflect: What would you tell yourself at diagnosis?

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Hi everyone,

As we approach the end of another year, it can be helpful to slow down and reflect. In the spirit of reflection, we’d like to invite you to share your thoughts on what advice you would give to yourself if you could turn back time to the moment of your (or your loved ones) diagnosis.  

If you could go back and speak to yourself at the time of diagnosis:

  • What words of comfort, advice or encouragement would you offer?
  • What lessons have you learnt that you wish you knew from the start?
  • What wisdom or guidance would have made a difference in your initial journey with cancer?

We’d love to hear from you. Your shared experience and insights can offer invaluable support and encouragement to those who might be at the beginning of their own paths towards healing and understanding.

Best wishes,

  • Hi  

    Interesting subject. If I could go back in time I would have got my symptoms checked out earlier. Once diagnosed I would have put myself first instead of trying to fit my investigations around work. I would have taken time off instead of working until my surgery date. At the time, I was very stressed, in pain and obviously distracted. I had trouble sleeping and lost my appetite. I didn't have healthy coping strategies. I had work pressure as I needed to take time off.

    I have since read around the subject of the mind-body connection. My cancer abruptly transitioned to aggressive (my hospital letters state this). I would be very interested to know when that process started and if I went back in time, would I be able to influence a different outcome by looking after myself better. I became stage 4 within 4 months of diagnosis. 

    It has taken me a long time to realise that I put everyone before myself and that is not a healthy way to live. As the saying goes - if you don't make time for yourself and your health, your body will force you to make time for your illness (or words along those lines). I would be a lot kinder to myself if I could go back in time.

    A x

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  • Hi  

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal reflection with us.

    You have highlighted a very important aspect that often goes overlooked - the importance of prioritising our own well-being. It can be easy to offer care to others, but often we don't grant ourselves the same kindness. Its often through challenging circumstances that we end up learning these lessons. 

    I recently published a blog about self-compassion and cancer, you can read it by clicking here if you'd like. 

    Thanks again for sharing your wisdom and insights.

    Best wishes,

    Macmillan's Online Community Team

  • I would say recovery from major surgery can be a rollercoaster of emotions.Accept that some days/weeks will be much better than others.Listen to your body and go with whatever it is telling you.If you need to rest you must rest.When you feel better perhaps think about a gentle hobby you can do to help pass the time or provide motivation.I have learnt to be more relaxed and patient.You can gain a lot of mental strength going through cancer.I do wish more medical help had been offered.It was so lonely being at home alone recovering during the pandemic.That was the lowest point for me as I had no help from the gp or the specialist nurse.I did receive support from being part of this community and that has meant a great deal.Jane 

  • Hi Jane,

    Thank you so much for sharing some of your experiences and all that advice. Im sorry to read that you did not get as much medical hep as you needed. Im glad you received support from the Community during that challenging time.

    Take care

    Best wishes,

    Macmillan's Online Community Team

  • Hi Dylan,It was unfortunate but I’m still here and so grateful to my surgeon.I feel bad for giving him such a challenging operation but he said he would do his best and he certainly did that.I appreciate life much more.Best wishes Jane 

  • Id like to have noticed symptoms earlier as I just crashed to the floor with a seizure and never had one before and felt great , I was later (September) diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, I remember him telling me me my prognosis in a room and not really having anything to say about it really I just froze , I've had radiotherapy and chemotherapy and going back for the next plan very soon and I aim to treat each day as Christmas be respectful to other people but put myself first. Take care everyone and enjoy what you can in life!


  • I write for my wife who was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in May.

    Just take it one day at a time. 31st December to 1st January is just another day to us all. You cannot change the past, don't dwell on what might have happened if I did this or that. Christmas day was just one day and all my family came and it was a success.

    Be glad the person with cancer is with you all. Accept your lives will never be the same again.

    If you are anxious or overwhelmed think about doing relaxation via down load for your mind and or autogenic relaxation training. It will help calm the chemicals the brain release into your system. Avoid alcohol.

    Keep your self occupied and try and get some me time. Focus on persons who check in with you not the cancer ghosts.

    Just some of the things I have adopted in 9 months to help me. 

    Thanks Pray

  • The day my GP gave me my initial blood results confirming i had cancer i would tell myself to let family and friends in sooner, push for testing and results a bit more, not rely on my medical knowledge so much, "i was in healthcare for 15 years, of which 5 were in palliative cancer care" and a lot of what i knew was obsolete, to join the online community, and tell my GP I don't want a DRE,