Insights from our guest blogger – Shirley Trotter, M.S.


Now that you know a bit about who I am and why I’m writing this blog, it’s time for you to learn a bit more about ‘you’.  Please remember, this knowledge is just between you and you.

When you go to the doctors office because of a physical illness they usually give you a questionnaire to complete about previous physical illnesses and family illness history.  They also ask a few questions about anxiety and depression.  Any further investigation about what’s going on emotionally seldom gets explored.  So, that’s what we are going to do here.  ‘A check up from the neck up”.

So you’ve had this cancer bomb dropped on you and your emotions are running wild or they’re as numb as if your brain’s been hit by novocaine.  You’re trying to process all this new information and understand everything that’s going to happen to you; surgery, chemo, radiation.  This can certainly fit the bill for emotional and psychological overload.The nurse kindly hands you a stack of information for you to take with you to read at your leisure, and then, you’re met by someone who sets you up with so many appointments you could put a CEO to shame. Ridding yourself of cancer becomes a full time career!

Understand that it’s very difficult to solve problems when you’re in crisis mode.

   My FIRST recommendation is to take time to let the information sink in.

   Just sit with it.

   Take slow, deep breaths.

   Cry if you need to.

   Hit the bed with a plastic bat if you need to express anger.

   Talk with a trusted loved one who will listen and not offer advice unless asked.

   Once you find yourself more centered you can ask yourself the following questions.

   (This process is for those who have been going through treatment as well.)


Write down your answers.

When you are finished answering the questions place your answers in a box with a lid.

Keep them in the box until you have an opportunity to talk with a social worker or you go through exercises I recommend in upcoming blogs.

  • Has anyone in your immediate family suffered from debilitating anxiety or sadness?
  • Debilitating means that your relative’s quality of life was decreased due to these conditions. (Emotional ways of dealing with life can be inherited as well as learned).
  • Has anyone in your immediate family suffered from a debilitating physical illness that had an impact on you?
  • Did you suffer a death within your immediate family when you were a child?
  • Have you suffered a loss within your family as an adult that significantly impacted you life?  (Grief has not subsided due to the loss).
  • Have you had to take on unexpected duties due to a loved one’s illness or death?
  • Has anyone in your immediate family suffered from abuse of any kind?
  • Have you suffered from abuse of any kind?
  • Have you suffered from any other chronic illness?
  • Did you have any serious childhood illnesses?
  • Were you bullied as a child?

Once again:  if you’ve answered “yes” to several of these questions, it may be helpful to seek out someone to talk with about these issues.  It’s better to talk about emotions and understand them rather than hide them away.

Hidden, negative emotions can rear their heads at the most unexpected times, requiring huge amounts of energy to keep them hidden.  And, let’s face it, you’ll need all the energy you can muster to heal from cancer.

Until the next blog remember: Our body, mind, and spirit are all connected.  So do what you need to do for yourself so you can keep everything working in a healthy synergy.

Shirley Trotter M.S.