I have taken exception to the word cope when discussing my post-acoustic neuroma life. I prefer the word adapt. Given that I haven’t fully understood why I bristle, I decided to dig into the two words a bit deeper. Satisfied that my instincts were correct – or my understanding of their definitions, I now feel even more able to clarify differences between the words.
Coping is immediate. When we are first diagnosed, we enter survival mode. We look for short-term, immediate answers. We react and, frankly, panic. We talk to doctors, family, friends, and often reach out through social media for answers. We may weigh treatment options, or be only given one choice depending on our individual situation.
Adaptation is longer term. Once we have “coped” with the immediate crisis, we shift into life with a brain tumor diagnosis. We adapt practices in our lives that are sustained long term – regular medication, daily naps, no roller coasters, or possibly new diets. Adaptation to life either after Acoustic Neuroma removal or watch & wait is a continuous process. Our bodies continue to heal, sometimes at a much slower rate than desired. Or our watched tumors continue to grow, or hopefully not. While those of us who had treatment learn to live with post-effects, watching a tumor that’s still in your head for changes is no picnic either.
As we adapt, we learn to plan our time and energy. We have gained a new appreciation for life and frequently have new priorities. We use our “resources” wisely. We appreciate what we have and learn to focus more on life than issues. We find ways of facing new adversity in different ways. We find a blend of our old selves and the new, adapting to the person we have become. We treasure relationships and life events that we know we could easily have missed.
So while, we do cope with our diagnosis, treatment, waiting, or after-effects, we have become skilled at adapting in sustainable ways to a life newly appreciated.
Thank you for allowing me to make the distinction. It makes me happy.