How To Deal With Cancer
You'll Find Strength When You Least Expect It
"Stay strong" are two words that, at times, irritate me. People often say those words to those who battle cancer, are caring for a loved one, or lose someone they care deeply for.
Possibly it's their way of giving a person strength, comfort and solace.
Possibly they are at a loss for words and feel "stay strong" seems suitable to say.
What irks me about hearing "stay strong" is that, isn't that obvious? Certainly no one who receives a diagnosis of cancer should instantly become weak.
Times of weakness are bound to happen, but that's OK. For now...yes, one must stay strong. You don't have time to collapse into a fetal position and give up. You must fight to the death.
Due to being a caregiver to my mother and my husband I've learned how to be strong. How to be positive. How to find a way to tackle the many decisions and options that cancer patients are offered.
I've also learned how to handle options that aren't offered and find a way to have them available.
I hope that my advice is of comfort to you during your time of crisis. I won't say "Stay strong," I'll suggest that you "Keep on shining."
Hibiscus Flower: Seize the opportunity!
25 Ways To Keep On Shining
- First and foremost the caregiver must take care of themselves. Your support is crucial for the comfort of the patient. This doesn't mean that you can't collapse and have a good cry. Cry as often as needed. Expressing emotions is a healthy sign of strength.
- You would benefit greatly depending on your attitude towards a situation. It's all in the attitude. Don't take no for an answer. If you strongly feel there is something that could possibly help your situation, then by all means...speak up.
- Believe in miracles. They happen. More often than you think.
- Exercise. Whether it's a stroll around your neighborhood or a bike ride. Appreciate the outdoors. The sunshine. The flowers. The stars at night. Allow your strength to rejuvenate from mother nature.
- Eat healthy. Prepare meals ahead of time and make extra for leftovers. If you don't have an appetite, drink protein supplements such as Boost and Ensure. A proper diet is important to keep your strength intact.
- Have a hobby that helps distract you, even for a few moments. Allow time for yourself. Lose yourself in your activity. Don't allow any distractions. This is your time to love yourself.
- Routine is important, but it's OK to break out of routine every now and then.
- One day at a time. Appreciate each and every day. Try your best to not worry about tomorrow. Next week. Next month. That's pointless and only causes anxiety and stress.
- Be Here Now. This is very important to remember. Your mind might want to wander back to yesterday and "what if's" ... again that's pointless. What's done is done and can not be undone. Forward is the only way.
- Don't overwhelm yourself with trying to remember appointments or medical history. Keep a journal. Take notes at each doctor visit. Request a copy of all tests and lab work. This way you don't have to cause unneeded stress on yourself trying to remember. You'll have everything with you in folders.
- Familiarize yourself with the medical professionals who are caring for your loved ones. Have your voice heard at appointments. Don't be a wallflower. Your strength and drive will impress the doctors. Or annoy them, but that's OK too.
- You will have good days and bad days. Welcome the good days with open arms. As for the bad days, realize that they aren't permanent and welcome those also. We all have bad days whether one is healthy or not.
- Fact: We were born. We will die. Accept that. By accepting this you will be more prepared when the time does come.
- Grieve beforehand. This does help many people. Prepare yourself. Don't be in denial.
- Know that there are some events in life that you have no control over. What's going to happen, will happen no matter how much you fight it.
- Continue to make memories. Treasure memories from your past. Once all is said and done memories are what you will have to carry in your heart and mind. Those memories will keep you smiling when you are sad. Will warm you on a cold day. Will make you realize that life is good, even when times are so tough.
- Make treatments entertaining. Yes, you could find humor in cancer. Don't allow it to zap your spirit while it's zapping your energy. Zap it back.
- Pray. Ask friends and family to pray for you or with you. Having faith gives you strength.
- Focus on priorities. If you are the patient, don't worry about anything or anyone but your health. If you are the caregiver, focus on your loved one and yourself. Everyone and everything else comes next. When and if you have time. Set limits. It's OK to say no.
- Rest your mind, body and soul as often as you can. Lack of sleep and relaxation will rob your strength. You need to pamper your strength so that it has your back when you need it.
- You will often find yourself in a situation and wonder, "How did I get through that?" You did because you are stronger than you think you are. Yes, what doesn't kill us, does make us stronger.
- Yesterday is over. Today is your gift. Use it wisely. Do something fun. Be a rebel.
- Join support groups. There are many online groups and most likely many groups in your area. Check with local hospitals. Online support groups are available 24/7. Chances are no matter what time of the day it is, you'll find someone available in the group who is willing to listen. Draw strength from friends, family and fellow supporters...in other words, Your Team.
- Positive thinking. There is no other way to think. In times of doubt or despair always remember the positive moments that will far outweigh the negative.
- As we have realized, bad things do happen to good people. We don't know why, we must learn to accept. What we do know is that as tough as life might be when fighting cancer you are and always will be a champion. Champions are winners.
Story of my Hibiscus Flower...
You might wonder why I chose a photo of a hibiscus flower for this article. I did so because this flower represents life to me. It stands for hope.
Three years ago this bush was damaged during a Florida freeze. I never gave up hope that this bush would one day bloom again. My husband wanted to remove the bush. It was dead. I said it was alive and well.
A couple of weeks ago I discovered the first buds. My husband was shocked. I was elated. We both were thrilled. I got to say "I told you so!"
The day I discovered the first flower (posted above) my newest granddaughter was born. Her name is Lily. She is our gift. My daughter opted out of naming her, Hibiscus :)
Which brings me to my final bit of advice, always find the humor in any situation. Never allow your smile to be dimmed by the enemy. Shine so brightly that others around you, shine through you.
Life is good. Hope is real. Be strong. You don't have to "stay strong." You just do the best you are able to. Most of all, believe that miracles do happen.
Keep on shining.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this article my Hibiscus has been feasted on three times by our local deer. I'm not giving up hope on it.
How to Kick Cancer to the Curb...
- How to Kick Cancer to the Curb
If you haven't considered kicking cancer to the curb yet, you might after reading some of the articles attached to this hub. As we all know cancer sucks and I'm going to continue to remind it...
If I Die Young - The Band Perry
Keep on shining...
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Cancer Fighting Foods
- Courage Is Not For Cowards
When you are confronted with a scary situation, your courage takes charge. It's your firmness of mind and your bravery that proves to you, that you are not a coward...
Dedicated to helping persons who face cancer. Supports research, patient services, early detection, treatment and education. Contact us anytime day or night 1-800-227-234.
© 2013 Linda Bilyeu
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