Posts tagged with ‘cancer’

11 sep

Staying True to Yourself after a Cancer Diagnosis

JennaSmithWhen you are diagnosed with cancer, much of your life seems out of your control. Instead of managing your own schedule, you are now subject to chemotherapy appointments and long hours spent in the hospital. Instead of maintaining your usual energy levels, you often find yourself overwhelmed with fatigue and unable to participate in favorite activities. It’s difficult to feel like yourself when everything seems to be out of your control – from your physical appearance to the way your body processes food.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you have recently been diagnosed with cancer or are well into the fight, here are some tips to spend the next 30 days getting back to YOU.

Talk to a support group

If you haven’t already joined a cancer support group, it’s time to find one. Use this place as a safe space to be yourself: you don’t have to stay positive for the sake of the kids or pretend to feel great to impress an employer. Feel free to share all of your emotions with the support group – your fear, your anger, your frustration, and even the humorous aspects of your situation (chemo farts, anyone?).

Then, ask your support group for suggestions. If you feel isolated, for example, how do other group members plan trips outside of the house? If you feel overworked, how have other people handled talking to supervisors about reduced workloads? Your support group is there for you, so utilize them. Often, the members of your cancer support group will become lifelong friends.

Talk to a counselor

If you have emotions that feel too big for your support group, talk to a counselor or therapist with specific training in cancer issues. Your health insurance is likely to include therapy as part of your treatment plan, so take advantage of it. Here’s where you go to talk about the big fears and angers that are overwhelming your life. A cancer therapist also has positive, specific suggestions about staying true to yourself during your cancer treatment, such as how to keep up with outside interests and how to cope when you are too ill to participate in favorite activities.

Surround yourself with positivity

Although it’s important to feel your own feelings, whether you are angry, grieving, irritated, or sad, it is also important to invite as many positive sources as possible into your life. This can be as simple as using a smartphone app to read your favorite comic strips every morning, or signing up to receive tweets from cancer support organizations like the Burzynski Clinic.

It also means changing out negative or depressing situations for positive ones. If you can’t keep your house as clean as you used to, hire a housecleaner. If you can’t stand the hospital waiting room, buy an iPad or a Kindle Fire and churn through books and TV series online as you wait. Even a cheap bouquet of flowers from the supermarket helps to brighten up a room – and your mood.

Don’t let your personality disappear

Did you know you can choose to wear your own clothes instead of hospital gowns? That’s just one of the ways you can stay true to yourself even when it seems like your body is working against you. Your cancer team is perfectly happy to let you listen to your favorite music during treatment, add family photos to your hospital room, or even wear a Sponge Bob Square Pants Band-Aid instead of a regular one. Don’t feel like you have to subdue yourself during cancer treatment. Get the wig you’ve always dreamed of, introduce your cancer team to your favorite band, and go ahead and wear your favorite soft pajamas instead of those itchy hospital gowns.

Stay true to your relationships

One of the worst parts about a cancer diagnosis is suddenly feeling like everyone is treating you differently. The truth is that you may be sick, but you’re still the same spouse, parent, and friend you always were. Don’t let your treatment get in the way of your relationships – ask your partner, children, and friends about their days, talk to them about their struggles, and make time for a date night, family board game night, or girls’ night out.

If you feel like people are treating you differently, talk to them directly. Explain that yes, you can no longer do certain things, but that doesn’t mean they should avoid you or treat you like an invalid. As with all relationships, good communication is key.

What about you? What have you done during cancer treatment to stay true to you? Do you have any advice for other people fighting cancer? Let us know in the comments.

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Posted by Jenna Smith on September 11th, 2013 in Family, Health | No comments Read related posts in ,

12 sep

Today Is All We Have

JayForteA very close friend of a good friend of mine died this morning after a difficult battle with cancer. Everyone is really sad today. Sad because we miss this great person. Sad because whatever time we had with her was not enough. Sad because we won’t be able to make new memories together. But there is wisdom in this aspect of being human.

Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen says in her book, Kitchen Table Wisdom, “…the view from the edge of life is so much clearer.” When we are faced with illness and our mortality, we realign the pieces of our life and focus on what is most important – who we touch in life and who touches us. We become wiser. And this wisdom is shared at the time of illness – ideally so we all learn and live that way each day, not just in a period of change and challenge.

Though we know this, few live with a great appreciation for the moment, the day and the people in our lives. Few of us learn this lesson until something catastrophic affects our lives.

Today is all we have. We don’t know about tomorrow. We don’t know about next week. This is not fatalistic – it is realistic. To me, this realization encourages the need for us to own each moment of our lives – to be really present. This reminds me on a daily basis that life is not a series of days to use up. Rather, life is the gift of days to use to add value, connect with others and transform the world. And everyday that our feet get to land on the floor, we get one more opportunity to be part of our world, and to bring it our best.

I find myself constantly distracted in running my own business. Because there is so much to handle, at the end of the day, I frequently don’t remember much of the day. Though I know better, I still lose sight that each moment of each day is never to be wasted or taken for granted. To that end, I am always trying to build in better “be in the moment” habits. Here are some that I find work for me:

1. Set the alarm 10 minutes earlier each day. Use the 10 minutes to think about 5 things you are grateful for. Soon you’ll find you won’t hit the snooze – you’ll look forward to your “grateful time,” and ten minutes won’t be enough. Be present.

2. Touch some part of nature. Hold onto a tree; smell flowers, grass or leaves. It connects you to this moment and the relationship that you and the planet have. You’ll also develop a greater responsibility to respect it and treat it well when it is an emotional part of your day. Be present.

3. Give someone a hug. It sounds cliché but as anyone who is on the edge of life will tell you, they crave the human touch – the moment of people and spirits connecting. Physical contact brings you into someone else’s space at this moment – and the two of you are in the moment together. You are very aware of time, of being present and feeling important to another person. Be present.

4. Smile. Even if there weren’t studies about the health effects of a positive attitude and behavior, a friendly and encouraging signal to another person impacts their world at that moment. This connection builds community. This connection creates a moment of memory in the day. Think how many people have changed your outlook just by a kind gesture, act or word. Be present.

5. Stare into a night sky and just imagine. Connect to the greatness of a moment by appreciating the size of our space – that you get to be in it, and what it feels like at this one particular moment. And when you watch the sky, you’ll notice it never remains the same – it constantly changes. Each moment is different. You become aware of each moment. You are part of each moment. Be present.

So, today is all we have. Find ways to be part of it. Be part of the lives with whom you share space at each moment. Choose to be happy. Greet each day with an attitude of gratefulness and love. Live each day as if it were your last.

Life is as great or as small as you intent it to be. And it isn’t the things that make it great. It is your connection to the people, events and moments that make it great. May you always know what the people who are at the edge of life know – that each day is important; each day is a gift. Treasure it and make it great.

Jay Forte is a business and motivational speaker, performance consultant and life coach. He is the author of Fire Up! Your Employees and Smoke Your Competition, and the on-line resource, Stand Out and Get Hired. His new book, The Greatness Zone; Know Yourself, Find Your Fit, Transform Your World, will be available in October 2010. He teaches people to connect to their talents and passions to be fired up! in life and at work. More information at and

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jay Forte on September 12th, 2010 in Family, General, Health, New Directions, Personal Stories, Relationships, Spirituality, Things We Love | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , ,