Fear. Shock. Anger. These feelings are all too familiar for anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or stood by a loved one with this disease. It’s both normal and common to feel overwhelmed at times, especially when thinking about what comes next.
Carol Willis* went through this whirlwind of emotions in 2015, when she was diagnosed with an advanced stage of renal cell carcinoma (RCC). RCC is the most common type of kidney cancer, accounting for 90% of all renal malignancies in adults. This year alone, around 63,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with kidney cancer in the U.S.
Through the many ups and downs of living with cancer, Carol has managed to stay positive. Below she shares five tips that have been helpful for her to keep in mind when facing cancer’s challenges.
5 Tips for Thriving with RCC, a Common Kidney Cancer
- Take a Deep Breath. Living with cancer has its challenges, which may feel like a heavy burden to bear. De-stressing techniques can help. Close your eyes, take five slow breaths and visualize doing something you love. Practice finding gratitude for the good things in life.
- Ask for Help. No one has to fight cancer alone. Determine how friends or family members can help and ask for what you need. The people in your life will likely be happy to assist you with day-to-day activities like cooking and cleaning, accompany you to a medical appointment, put together a playlist of your favorite music or even just listen when you need to talk.
- Advocate for Yourself. Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you have questions or concerns, ask your doctors for more information – and seek out a second or third opinion if you want it.
- Build – and Expand – Your Support Network. Find out about local or online support groups. Meeting others who are going through or who have gone through something similar can be both informative and comforting.
- Get the Facts. Knowledge is power. Gather information and learn about the latest treatment options, including the most recent developments. The science of cancer therapy is constantly evolving, which may offer new hope to many people living with the disease.
“The time right after my diagnosis was one of the most difficult periods of my life,” Carol said. “I found strength and inspiration in my family, in learning as much as I could from my doctors and from the support of the kidney cancer community – all of which dramatically changed my outlook. I encourage anyone with RCC to seek out people and information that help them feel more empowered and confident.”
Like many others with RCC, Carol was diagnosed when the cancer had already spread throughout her body. But she refused to give up without exploring all possible options. Less than a year after her diagnosis, she and her doctors decided on a new type of therapy – a combination of two Immuno-Oncology treatments that work with the body’s immune system.
This immunotherapy combination, Opdivo® (nivolumab) + Yervoy® (ipilimumab), was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat RCC in certain people when their cancer has spread.
For questions to ask your doctor about Opdivo + Yervoy, please click here.
*Carol is a Bristol-Myers Squibb Patient Ambassador.
Opdivo® and Yervoy® are trademarks of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. © 2018 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. All Rights Reserved. 7356US1801502-02-01 8/18
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