The Ericksons

Category Archives: Living with Cancer

Blog Posts about Living with Cancer


It’s the 1st Wednesday of the month again. That’s when I take part in Alex J. Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to check out their website and even sign up for the IWSG Newsletter. Today I will explore putting a schedule in place for writing. I’ll focus on the genre of self-help as it relates to writing about cancer, as I answer this month’s IWSG Day question:February 7 question – What do you love about the genre you write in most often?If you want to have some fun, take a look at the Wikipedia page for the list of writing genres. You may be surprised at how many there are. So, it’s difficult for me, as a writer to choose just one. My favorite thing to write is fiction, especially mysteries. But at this point in time, I write more non-fiction. If I had to narrow it down to a specific genre, it would be self-help. Until I got this question, I never would have categorized writing about cancer that way. It’s interesting to note my reason for writing about cancer is to help people.My first book, Facing Cancer as a Friend, How to Support Someone who has Cancer, Read more…


When you or a loved one are diagnosed with cancer, survival tops your priority list. As time passes, you meet other cancer patients. Some of them survive. Some of them die. Learning that one of your friends has died of cancer, always brings with it a sadness–and sometimes, guilt. It’s a phenomenon known as survivor’s guilt.EncouragementAs a 5-year -survivor of stage IV lung cancer, my husband, Dan, tries to encourage others on their journey. I, in turn, try to encourage caregivers that there is hope. There are new treatments and new tools in the palliative care toolbox to help patients deal with the side effects of cancer treatments. There are also a lot of support groups and systems to help both patients and caregivers.When it starts going bad.We recently found out that someone we know “lost her battle with cancer.” I don’t even want to get into the controversy surrounding that statement. I don’t like it much, but for all intents and purposes, it works. We wonder if we lied to them. Why have we had the grace of this time, when others with terminal cancer don’t? Survivor’s guilt rears its ugly head.In the back of your mind, you wonder if you were Read more…


Do you remember the last time you went to the doctor? If it was within the past couple of years, chances are, you were asked to “rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10 with 0 being no pain, and 10 being the greatest amount of pain humanly possible.” What does that even mean?? I’m going to shed some light on this enigmatic pain scale, so the next time you or a loved one goes to the doctor, you can get the best care possible.Patients hate the pain scaleYou are suddenly put on the spot. The nurse or doctor is waiting for you to put a number on what you’re experiencing. It’s the worst pain you’ve ever felt, but is it a 10? It is if you feel like a bear is gnawing on your leg while bees sting your eyeballs and you have your hand caught in an ever-tightening vice. Crazy, right? But that’s a 10. It’s pain that is nearly intolerable. Every once in a while a doctor will see a 10, but the patient is in too much pain by that time to even communicate the number. That’s a 10.There is the opposite problem as Read more…


Do we need to “have it all together?”So many tragic things happen in this world and in our personal lives, that require us to have faith. What happens when the faith we have is imperfect? The truth is that we all have imperfect faith. The good news is that even with imperfect faith, our prayers make a difference.A Parent’s PerspectiveWhen one of my kids comes to me for help, I don’t require them to have everything in their life together before I respond to their need. If you have kids (of any age) I’m sure you feel the same way. That’s how it is with God. We can approach Him, even with imperfect faith.When you don’t really know GodI have many friends and loved ones, who don’t have a relationship with God. Some of them believe God exists, but they don’t understand who He is, or how to fit Him into their life. Then, something happens that shakes their world to its foundations. It might be a violent death, a divorce, or a life-changing illness. They often feel like they can’t pray, themselves, either because they don’t know how, or because they feel like they have imperfect faith and God Read more…


Today we will look at why people blame God for trials and sufferings in life. This is the second post that looks at Job from the Bible to gain insight into suffering.A few weeks ago, we explored the common (though often subconscious) idea that a person diagnosed with a life-altering illness, such as cancer, must have done something to cause it; smoking, drinking, unhealthy eating patterns, etc. You can check out that post here.I concluded the post by sharing how to be a supportive friend when someone is going through a trial, rather than one of Job’s comforters, blaming the sufferer. Beyond outward behavior that may or may not have contributed to someone getting cancer, there is often a blame game of another sort—sin and God’s will.Why people blame God when they or someone they know is suffering   Let’s return to Job, the epitome of suffering. He’s sitting on a dung heap in sackcloth and ashes, mourning the loss of all he held dear; his family, property, and his health. Job’s friends came and mourned with him for seven days in silence. Then they decided to tell him what they thought was the cause of, and solution to his Read more…


In part one of The Who Cares for the Caregiver series, we learned who caregivers are, We also looked at the affect caring for someone who has cancer or another serious illness, has on them. In Part two, we learned specific ways you can help a caregiver. In today’s post, the third and final installment in the caregiver series, we learn about the effect of caring for caregivers.Hearing CricketsI’m a very private, introverted person. At the time my husband, Dan was diagnosed with cancer, we hadn’t been married long. I was a stay at home mom and didn’t have many strong friendships.  So when the people found out that Dan had cancer, many calls and texts came to his cell phone and countless caring emails arrived in his inbox.I got a total of two, so I felt very much alone.The Turning PointThat changed when I received an email from my sister-in-law, Marion, on the evening of November 2, 2012. Here’s what she said*:Praying for you on THIS day, today—That Dan’s results would be given to you by the end of the day.  That the results would be so much better than expected.That you would be able to get at least an idea of Read more…


This is my final A to Z Challenge post, and it is perhaps, my most difficult. What can I write about that starts with Z? I decided to take an actual term, Z Factor, and slap a new meaning on it, all while sharing what has given us peace of mind throughout my husband’s cancer journey. So here it is…The Z Factor of Living with Cancer.Survival RatesThere are many things that go into survival rates for people living with cancer. Often how well a person is doing on their treatment seems to defy logic. We’ve seen some patients who are wonderful people with every reason to live, pass away.As well, we’ve seen patients who do very well and exceed all expectations, despite a dire, initial prognosis.We’ve heard many reasons for this:She’s a fighter.He has such a positive attitude.She’s hanging on for the kids.He’s determined to outlive us all.She has faith.I think there is something to be said for the power of will. There’s even more that can be said about the power of God. This is a power that transcends survival.We have seen believers and unbelievers, alike, die.We’ve also seen both outlive their doctor’s predictions. From the beginning of my Read more…


X-RayAn X-ray is the most commonly used imaging scan for most people since it is simple, safe, and low cost. Doctors use x-ray to diagnose injury and lung issues, from bronchitis to lung cancer.An x-ray uses radiation in small quantities. The radiation (or x-ray) passes through the body, capturing an image. The rays are blocked by dense tissue, bone, and objects in the body. Radiologists look at the x-ray picture and send a report of their findings to the doctor.CT ScansCT stands for Computed Tomography. It’s a painless scan that combines the power of x-ray with computers to make images. The images are 360-degreecross-sectionall views of your body.Doctors often use CT scans when they want to see bone, soft tissue and blood vessels at the same time. It’s also okay for a patient who has metal in their body to have a CT. Because of this capability, it is a common scan for a cancer patient to have.CT scans often involve oral and/or intravenous contrast. This clear, tasteless liquid helps radiologists see certain things in the scan, such as lymph nodes, better. During the scan, you lay on a scanner table. The table will move you through the scanner, while Read more…


One thing all cancer patients do is wait. From the waiting room, on, waiting becomes a huge part of life when you’re living with cancer,Waiting roomMy husband and I had monthly visits to the cancer center for 5 years prior to his diagnosis with stage IV lung cancer. I received infusions for rheumatoid arthritis there. The day we went to the cancer center for his first oncology appointment, the waiting room became a whole new word for us. We saw the other patients who were waiting, in a whole new light. For the first time, we knew their fears. They all had experience in what we were about to go through.Over the years, the waiting room has also become a place of comradery. We exchange stories. We root for one another. Now, Dan is the patient with the experience, having been there nearly 5 years.Waiting for your diagnosisThis may have been the most anxiety filled time of Dan’s cancer experience. We knew something was wrong. But, what? Countless tests filled our days for two weeks, before we had a complete picture of what we were facing. And, that was fast. Most people wait a lot longer for their diagnosis. It Read more…


This post about visiting someone who’s ill is from chapter 3 of my book, Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone who Has Cancer,Here’s what Jesus had to say about it:“Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Matthew 25: 34b-361 (New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson)Why Visiting someone who’s ill is so importantWhen someone is ill, especially with cancer, it is easy for them to become isolated and withdrawn. Because they lack energy and are often immune suppressed and/or in pain, they often stay home far more than they used to. That coupled with often insensitive reactions to their illness can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. This can be even more intensified around the holidays.Visiting someone who’s ill or their caregiver can make a big impact on the family’s quality of life. It can Read more…

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