Chris P - Pancreatic Cancer Survivor

What now? Five steps you can take after a cancer diagnosis


In 2008, Chris P. was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She flew to Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Chicago, to receive a second opinion on her treatment options and chose to undergo a rigorous chemotherapy regimen. Since 2012, Chris has completed her chemo and returns to CTCA® Chicago for checkups every six months. The shock of a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but Chris found ways to keep moving forward. She shares the five steps that helped her process her diagnosis and navigate her cancer journey.

  1. Take inventory of your financial health. Finances can be intimidating, but now isn’t the time to hide in the shadows. You can never have enough resources. I cannot emphasize this enough. Make sure you understand how to best use your 401k, life insurance, health insurance, savings, etc.
  2. Prepare for the road ahead spiritually and mentally. I read The Cancer Conqueror by Greg Anderson, and it shifted my perspective. Another potential book to consider: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Seek counseling for yourself and your caregiver. It’s a wonderful and safe outlet to talk about anything and everything.
  3. Let people help. No, really, it’s OK to let people help! Remember: Sometimes people have no idea what to say, but they’re good at doing. Communicate your needs openly and honestly with friends and family who want to be there for you.
  4. Get a second, third, even a fourth opinion. My oncologist told me that the very first chemotherapy treatment you receive is the most important. Go with your gut. We shop around for cars and furniture; why not shop around for the best treatment, facility and care team?
  5. Research integrative therapies. Some of the services that aided my journey included acupuncture, Reiki therapy, naturopathic support, an oncology-trained nutritionist, meditation, massages and spiritual support. I didn’t know much about my options before treatment, but I still use some of these offerings in my day-to-day life.