The Bev STRATEGY

A POSITIVE PATH FORWARD after a difficult diagnosis

You’ve just received a difficult diagnosis such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, or the like… Now WHAT?


The time after a difficult diagnosis is, for many patients, the most challenging time of their lives. 


You need to make critical decisions, but the fear-fueled adrenaline rush makes it hard to think clearly. Our brains don’t work well when stress has hijacked them, so you need to use different strategies right now.


Calm your panic. Control what you can. And give yourself the tools you need right now to think straight and make good decisions.


Hi, I’m Bev.  I have survived three different cancers and two additional complex medical diagnoses.  I used my professional research skills to create a system to help me stay calm, make good treatment decisions, and optimize the entire experience.   I am sharing what worked for me in hopes it might help you too. 


Everyone is different and every medical case is unique. I’m not a medical doctor; I’m a patient just like you.

You, Post Diagnosis

I call it the stress swirl; doctors call it the amygdala hijack. Whatever you want to call it, you must understand that your brain and memory will not function normally after a shocking diagnosis.

 

Your high IQ thought processes will be drowning in the high-stress riptide that is the post-diagnosis, pre-treatment decision period. 


Stress means your memory, processing, and decision-making skills will weaken dramatically. Expect this and take steps to counter it. 


In the breast cancer clinic at Mayo Clinic Rochester, they expect they will have to repeat most of the information they told you in your first visit. They know patients under extreme stress will not grasp much at first.


The time between diagnosis and finalizing your treatment decisions is in many ways the most stressful. Your previous life has been shattered. Panic can set in. You probably know very little about the disease with which you’ve just been christened.  You will need to take different steps to get to the other side, where it IS easier.  


It will get easier emotionally once you have completed these hard decisions.  Then you will just ride the treatment ride, hopefully surrounded by love and the serenity that comes with knowing you did the very best you could to make the best decisions you could.

“I think its excellent… [This general approach] can apply to cancer, heart disease or other severe illnesses."​
C. Kent Osborne, MD
Tina and Dudley Sharp Chair in Oncology Founding Director, Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center Professor of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology Baylor College of Medicine Co-director, San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium​

QUICK START GUIDE

Welcome to TheBevStrategy.com

This section is an abbreviated quick-start for those feeling too overwhelmed to do much.  Read the other sections for more wisdom and tips when you are up to it. 

 

The Bev Strategy was created by a patient, for patients.

Step One: Always take notes.
You won’t remember details well under this much stress, so you must compensate for that memory fog.

  1. Keep a legal pad with you to take notes when doctors call.You also want to jot down questions as they pop into your head. Doing this the old-school way is something many patients find very helpful.
  2. Start making lists of questions for your doctors as soon as you have made your appointment. Put the doctor’s name and the date of your upcoming appointment at the top of the legal pad. Number your Qs and put them on the top page of the legal pad. This will help you get all your questions answered during stressful doctor’s visits.Take notes on the doctor’s answers on subsequent pages.

Step Two: Make your binder.
It may sound silly, but an old-fashioned binder will help you calm your nerves and organize the medical and emotional chaos.

  1. Creating the binder will ground you. Organizing it will decrease your stress level and help you move forward to make informed decisions for your case.
  2. This is how I make my medical binders. Either create your binder yourself or have a friend help you. Do it very soon.
  3. Once you have made your binder, hole-punch and organize the papers your doctor has given you and any notes you have already taken. These simple steps will calm you. You will be able to find anything in an instant.
  4. Take that binder to every doctor’s appointment.Keep the information impeccably organized.
  5. Be proud of yourself for maintaining it beautifully. You are helping yourself so much!


Step Three: Find the best doctors

  1. Nice and convenient are great, but when you need to save your life, you may need to travel to another town to consult a more cutting-edge expert.See the section Find The Best Doctors for more.
  2. To find new doctors, I ask my present doctor: “If you were me and could see anyone in the country about my case, whom would you see?
  3. Make those second-opinion consultations.

Step Four: Make your decisions on treatment.

  1. Educate yourself about your case to distinguish the best medical path for YOU.
  2. Just because a particular treatment plan was chosen for your friend doesn’t mean it is the best choice for your particular case. Be savvy.

Step Five: Ride the Treatment Ride with Serenity and Joy

  1. You have educated yourself, found the best doctor for you, and made good decisions on treatment. Bravo!
  2. Go into treatment prepared instead of paralyzed. Gather tips from fellow patients, nurses, and articles.   You’re going to take this on in the best way possible. 
  3. Be so proud of yourself and the way you handled this difficult time.  
  4. See the “Proactive Not Passive” and “More Support” sections of this website for additional wisdom and inspiration when you are ready.
During a very uncertain time and stress in my life, Bev’s strategy gave me the tools to help me think clearly, get organized and learn what I needed to learn to make critical decisions that would affect my choices in treatment, medical professionals and daily life thereby, increasing the odds of healing in the least traumatic way possible. My life today, cancer free, is the result of those choices I made with Bev’s help. My life is much less stressful and every day is a blessing. Thank you Bev!
Denise T

When I was 48, I received two cancer diagnoses in one year.

 
I used to be in charge of research for CNN’s National Desk.  I formulated critical questions and synthesized the essential points our reporters and producers would need.  After my cancer diagnoses, I used my research skills to create a system to help me stay calm and learn what I needed to learn so I could make good decisions about doctors and treatment.  Since then, I have shared my strategy with friends who have received difficult diagnoses.  They have all told me my system helped them navigate the bewildering stage between diagnosis and treatment.

The Bev Strategy helps you think clearly and make good decisions.

 
Calm yourself by focusing on the simple steps. Process the crucial medical information, find the best doctors, create good questions before every doctor visit, understand the answers so you can make good choices. You want to be able to ride the treatment ride with the serenity of knowing you made the best decisions you could. This strategy helped me keep panic at bay and have a great treatment experience.

Ride the Treatment Ride with the serenity that comes from knowing you are on the best track for your disease. 

Your main goal is to get the correct diagnosis and choose the best doctors and treatment for your case. Once you have chosen your doctor and your treatment plan, your job is to just ride the treatment ride with the serenity that comes from knowing you made the best decisions possible for your case.

There is so much you can do to help yourself emotionally and physically. Be proactive!

Live in THIS moment, not the future one you fear. Live in reality.  Take advantage of what I call the positive P’s: Be prepared, not paralyzed! Proactive health: Eat anti-disease foods. Make positive plans. Be proud of yourself. Pare the unnecessary from your life. Enjoy the panoramic view of life a difficult diagnosis gives you. Pamper yourself.  Poet and play. Put good into the world.   

Here is a list of resources I found helpful. 

Techniques to curb anxiety.   Suggestions as to how you can help a friend or loved one. Websites, podcasts, books, and helpful films.   I’ve included nutrition advice that has served me well, complementary therapies that could help your side effects, doctors/hospitals I have seen and loved. 

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