Tips for ManagingYour Emotions

Discover additional tips that may provide some encouragement for people living with head and neck cancer.

The Importance of Staying Positive With Head and Neck Cancer


Tips for Staying Positive


Tips for Struggling With Self Image

Kelly's Tips: Creating a Game Plan

As a football player, I was tough — on and off the field. Throughout my cancer journey, my mental and physical toughness were tested. It wasn't an easy time but I learned a lot about myself, and the people around me. I’d like to share these few tips, which I hope will help make a difference in your cancer journey.

Get Support

I was really lucky. I have a big family that was there for me, always reminding me to stay strong. It’s something I needed to hear, and it’s something I’d like others facing this battle to keep in mind. In the hospital, I met many people with cancer that just wanted someone to talk to. Even if you don’t have a large extended family like mine there are many other resources. There are support groups, therapists and social workers that can offer advice as well as be there to listen.

Build a Team

I credit part of my team’s success on the field to the trust we built with one another as well as, having open communication. We had each other’s back. My doctors and nurses were like that too. They not only explained every step in my journey, they also took the time to answer all the questions my family and I had.

Be Prepared

Just like I relied on my teammates to get ready for each game, I leaned on my wife and daughter to prepare for my doctor appointments. They would always have a pad ready for questions that popped into our heads. Also, on the day of an appointment, one of them would go with me and focus on taking notes to make sure all my questions were answered.

Listen to Your Body

Playing football I usually toughed it out unless the pain was really bad. Well, cancer treatment changed that for me. I had to be more in tune with my body and speak up when there was even a twinge of pain. Some days I had more energy than others. Some days I wished I could ignore what I was feeling, like when the sores in my mouth flared up and my body said, “Enough already with the buffalo wings!”

Keeping a Journal

My wife kept a journal and recorded each day of my cancer battle. She noted what treatments I had, how I was feeling and what I was able to accomplish that day. We used it to track my overall progress and see the improvements I had made over time. I’m sure writing in a journal might not be the easiest thing to keep up but I’m recommending it because it was really helpful for me. Without mine, I would have forgotten a lot of the things I needed to ask my doctors.

Be Tough

When I was first diagnosed our family motto, ‘Kelly Tough,’ meant being physically strong; you get knocked down, you get back up, you keep fighting. That’s a big part of it. But, it’s also about being mentally strong — keeping a positive frame of mind. My visiting family showed up smiling, not frowning or crying. That kept me going. During treatment, the toughest times for me were when all the visitors left and I was alone. I used those visits and the lingering good feelings I had to re-focus my attention on the days ahead.

Make a Difference

When I was in the hospital, I noticed a lot of people battling cancer alone without anyone by their side. It really affected me. I realized that maybe the reason I had this disease was to be there for others and bring awareness to this disease. I truly believe I can inspire and help people to have a positive outlook as they go through their journey. That’s where my motto, “Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for tomorrow,” comes from. You can do it too! When it comes to beating head and neck cancer, we’re all teammates and in this together.

Create Your Own Head & Neck Cancer Game Plan

Get helpful tips tailored for you on how to manage your health, handle emotional challenges, communicate with caregivers and more.

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