It doesn’t matter how tough you are: Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a frightful and life-altering experience. There is no telling how such a whirlwind of confusion and uncertainty may affect you and your loved ones.
Just as each type of cancer is different, so is each person. It may be true that no single bit of wisdom or advice will help a cancer patient and their loved ones make quick peace with a recent diagnosis. What may help, however, is listening to the experiences of others. From podcasts to social networking, modern media gives us thousands of these opportunities.
In this brief guide below, we look at several of the most popular and effective mesothelioma resources to help patients and their families cope with and learn from their diagnosis.
Everything Happens With Kate Bowler (Podcast)
Kate Bowler is a historian at Duke Divinity School who was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer in 2015. Through conversations on her podcast Everything Happens, Kate discusses and interviews others about living through dark times, with occasionally humorous insights.
Refreshingly, Kate takes aims at the idea of “staying positive no matter what.” For her, that’s just not realistic, as it “adds shame to suffering” by asking everyone to summon joy when little joy can be found.
Bowler has also published a best-selling memoir, “Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved,” and currently maintains a popular Instagram account featuring daily reflections.
One of the most popular health and wellness podcasts you’ll find upends the usually grim and dour atmosphere that consumes most conversations about cancer.
Instead, the podcast Sickboy offers a lighthearted and funny approach to illness, with the specific aim of breaking down stigmas.
The show began as an attempt by Jeremy Saunders, a patient suffering from cystic fibrosis, to simply laugh. His two best friends provided that in ample supply, and the Sickboy podcast was born.
While initially about Jeremy’s diagnosis, the show snowballed into a more general discussion of disease and illness of all types, but always with a mind towards humor and laughter as a form of treatment in its own right.
The Bloodline With LLS (Podcast)
One of the most popular active cancer-related podcasts, The Bloodline With LLS interviews experts and patients with the hope of helping people understand their diagnosis, as well as what treatments and resources may be available to them.
The Bloodline focuses on blood cancers like Leukemia and Lymphoma, detailing research advances as well as easy-to-understand explainers, but many of the insights can apply to all cancer patients.
The Kindness, and Xanax, of Strangers (Essay)
We live in a culture that celebrates self-reliance and individualism to such an extent that we often view it as a weakness to seek help.
Sally Hoskins’s timeless essay, “The Kindness, and Xanax, of Strangers,” invites us to question how much we think we can rely on ourselves and ourselves alone.
The New York Times essay is frequently cited as a go-to for cancer patients, as it details Hoskins’ second bout with breast cancer and the charming cast of characters she came to depend on during her treatment.
Stupid Cancer (Non-Profit Organization)
More than just a podcast, Stupid Cancer is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing resources for young adult cancer patients. Inspired by founder Matthew Zachary’s experience being diagnosed with brain cancer at age 21, Stupid Cancer helps young people contextualize their illness.
Through webinars, blog posts, podcasts, meetups, and support groups, as well as public advocacy, the group seeks to alleviate some of the burden placed on young people suffering from cancer. Stupid Cancer’s popular podcast, the Stupid Cancer Show, is no longer adding new episodes, but the entire catalog of 300 episodes is still available for listening.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) is one of the oldest cancer organizations in the country, with a mostly volunteer staff that aims to raise awareness, fund new research, and provide support for patients.
The ACS website provides a bevy of information and resources to help patients and their families learn about the disease. For those looking to find support groups, the website includes a web tool for locating nearby support groups and other resources in your area.
If the ASC tool does not provide the results you’re looking for, check with your doctor, hospital, or treatment team, as they can usually provide a list for you.
You can also consult this list from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which includes the contact information for dozens of organizations specializing in specific treatments, cancers, and patient groups.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is the cancer research arm of the federal government. The agency provides helpful resources for both researchers and patients, as well as channels for the two to connect with each other.
Patients can use the site to search for clinical trials involving new drugs and treatments, with fields detailing the age of the patient, the type of cancer they have, and where they are located.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has a similar search tool on its website, which lists a larger array of trials.
Whatever You Do, Go at Your Own Pace
Common among all cancer-patient resources is a prevailing thought: Whatever methods you use to seek solace and comfort, do not pressure yourself, and keep marching to the beat of your own drum.
Cancer touches everyone differently, and a diagnosis comes with a host of overwhelming emotions that can take time and energy to reckon with.
On this journey there will be tears and laughter. There will be pain and joy. Whatever comes — and whenever it comes — take it one step at a time, and reach out when you feel ready.
When you do, people will be there to help.