EASY Tips-How You Get Over the Fear of Cancer Recurrence!
Fear of Cancer Recurrence?
14 well tried tips to beat the fear, by a cancer survivor. Or 14 ways to walk with fear until you feel well again.
“About 70% of cancer survivors worry about cancer coming back. The fear of recurrence is normal.” From www.cancer.org
Diagnosed at IDI hospital in Rome Italy (http://www.idi.it/ospedale/scarlo/rep/rginec.htm) with a type 2 Grade 111C Endometrial papillary serous and clear cells carcinoma just over two and a half years ago, I have a poorer outlook for a long life (than type 1 cancers). Researching the internet for statistics, the chances of survival beyond 5 years for patients with this, less common type of cancer, is 1-3 people.
I used to be worried about not managing to become that number 1 statistic. In conversations with all my doctors I would subtly, then directly asked them what my chances of survival REALLY were. My spiritually attuned surgeon implied I’d be dealing with the human part of my spirit, a day at a time. One of the doctors on his ward told me that the operation had been a supreme success, everything had gone satisfactorily well and without a hitch, he could see no reason why cancer should necessarily ever reoccur. My oncologist, after we became very good friends, after all the treatments were over, after several checkups, agreed to confide that there were a few women in his wards with Endometrial cancer that very day, that had lived 7 years cancer free. This was excellent news. Seven years more of life! But wasn’t the question symptomatic of my fear of a cancer recurrence?
Loved ones and friends all sincerely assured me, “You’ll be the lucky one”. And I winked reassuringly back “Of course I will be”, but the words were false.Why should I be the lucky one? Why me and not her or you?
The helpful literature; the researched, the ‘quirky’ un-researched, the courageous, the proven, the caring, the radical suggestions on how to be well, how to live, how to beat cancer on your very last day, (with the life stories as PROOF) and return from your death bed, how to be able to afford, (let alone do) Yoga, to meditate three times a day, drink ‘green drinks’ instead of my delicious daily bowl of pasta, were beyond my sincere capabilities. Sticking to any plan that requires discipline and radical, regular, enforced changing seems not to have been my forte. All the suggestions on how to ‘beat it’ and how to ‘live with cancer’ have, like the dried up ginger in my spice basket, fizzled to nothing. I secretly feared that I couldn’t ‘do it’ like the big girls and boys who were devoting their entire beings to new life styles that appear to help beat cancer, or reduce it, or help it not recur. Or even, to try to prevent it happening in the first place.
It did worry me. I often thought there was a kernel inside my being that was so hidden and self destructive, that I believed I might be someone who couldn’t make it, that the cancer multiplying cells could not be quelled, because for some odd reason, I was unable to quell them with new disciplines and eating habits and meditation - and ALL that helpful stuff.
My own life is at stakes here, but was life worth it if I had to make all those uncomfortable changes and stick to them morning noon and night? In THAT state?
Not really. Not for me.
When it Can Get Dark and Stormy
Living with Uncertainty
Most likely all those the books, theories, techniques and disciplines I read about and tried out filtered through my boundaries of resistance and took a comfortable seat in my subconscious because, despite the nasty, niggling voice of fear that I couldn’t ‘do it’, I did find a way through. I really always wanted to help myself as much as possible, to survive the treatments, to survive afterwards and to be well. I just felt too tired, too worn completely out, to take on those suggestions then (and I suspected that afterwards, I might be too lazy).
As we all do, I found my very own path along my own cancer trail. My experience in the hard dark days of treatments brought me closer to my spiritual world more constantly and more intimately truly than in my ‘every day’ state. We aren’t all the same, agreed, but my way felt just slightly lit up to me, metaphorically speaking, enough to be able to ‘feel’ my way along it and through - and keep on going along and through and sure of the way as I went.
For those who simply feel they just can’t be bothered to deal with all this stuff of 'finding the way' or 'be your own healer' or 'get well soon' or whatever, I do hope that the following list of suggestions will help instead. Of course they are just suggestions, but I found them very helpful and I didn't have to 'work at it' at all.
15 Tips on Whatever it Takes to Get You Through the day
There is really no one- to- ten of how to do it, no 'one plan fits all'; each of us has the ability to map the ways we chose or can. It is, respectfully, personal.
But, here are my 14 well tried tips for cancer patients (whether you are about to have your operation, or for those of you who are in treatment, or for the convalescent) on how to be gentle with yourself and do what you can to get to feel well (even just a very little well). Some tips are purely practical, others are more to do with feelings and with coping with the illness brought on by the treatments. Some are to do with working towards feeling well.
- Follow doctor’s advice to the letter. We don’t know better than he/she does. Compliance is simple once you chose to let go. It helps you get to the end of the treatments, which is vital.
- Learn how to live with/inside the hospital system, however chaotic. It’s the sick person’s world and there are millions of us. A nicer attitude works because it generates well being and harmony - besides people like you lots more. Things stand a better chance of running smoothly.
- Stay in touch with Higher Power or God as much as possible. When I do this I find serenity and I also find answers to some dilemmas. I often become nice again! And if I don’t become nice again, I can always say prayers until I do. The Lord’s Prayer, said slowly and meaningfully is immensely helpful, no matter what state of belief or disbelief I’m in when I say it. (I find that new prayers of my own aren’t so beautiful, unless a simple “Help me”). The connection to goodness and the spirit is 100% healing.
- Rest, rest, rest. The minute you are tired, rest. And if you end up resting all afternoon for two years, as I did, and going to bed early, then so it is. We can plan to rest a lot too; it is what we are supposed to be doing. The body and the mind need to heal from the treatments that have done us in; they can repair if we let them. Besides it’s a dreadful strain to be tired. Do we need another strain?
- A balanced diet is a very good thing, so bear in mind eating some protein, some carbs, 5 fruits and veg a day. (On RT, they will give you a diet to follow). Eat the foods you like! You’ll do it right. Trust yourself. The body wants to heal, so the mind is doing its bit too. Your organs need to function when you recover from the treatments, so keep them working. Eat well. If you can, find a qualified nutritionist to advise.
- Love the one your with, even with your eyes closed ( Boy! do they love you!). During convalescence when they really get on your nerves again, keep on loving them. (Boy! Do you love them!)
- In the dark days of chemo or RT, even if it’s hard to do, (which it really, really, really is), try to plan to do a few fun things after you finish treatments. It’s not new advice but I love it and it worked for me. Try to come up with an idea that you like, try to form the idea. (It can come to you!). Then make a plan to ‘do it’ in the first month after treatments. Then plan to do something you really would like to do three months after that, then another for a year on. I slowly put a series of plans together; a spa holiday with my friend, a visit to my sisters and brother in England, then a visit to my mother, brother and friends in California. (Buy the tickets! Then DO it.) As I lived through the journeys I’d worked so hard to plan, I re inhabited my life and felt all the life healing love. It was immensely healing.
- Try a new, simple hobby when you’re convalescing. I learned how to cross stitch and made a lovely picture for my grand daughter’s nursery, through the first year after RT. Keep it all very simple. You might write a new A B C poem, or carve soap, or take pictures of snowmen!
- Financing it all is so real and so very hard, so keep the antenna up for the easier way. I used up my nest egg. But when I couldn’t deal with finances, I didn’t. I simply borrowed. Am I the only fortunate one to have loving friends and family to lean on? I think not. (I paid everyone back when I was fit enough, with my nest egg money).
- Avoid people who vex. It’s all about creating a feeling of being happy now, essentially, absolutely, really so. It is easier with loved ones. Do the easy thing! Always.
- When you are feeling better, you are on the way to feeling well. It takes a LOT of TIME. Acknowledge the pleasant feel you get when you think up things you’d like to do. They are the right ideas, because they came to you and could maybe become the ones you develop! (Don’t chuck those ideas out!) Since I’ve begun to feel better, I’ve got energy to think up what I’d really like to do and I’m finding ways to do it. (I do have bills to pay after all.) For example this summer, I rented out my spare rooms to b&b guests who loved staying here. I made a lot of new friends! I made money. I felt vitalized and involved in the ‘practical world’ again. Writing this Hub is another way! There are millions of ways out there, like stars. Just reach for one, then another. It’s a new, feel good life. It really is. It is making me feel, not just ‘better’, but well AGAIN.
- It’s the other side of 11. Working at what takes your spirit (energy) away from you is not good. When I was very ill, I knew that teaching again would be too hard; no matter what financial frustrations present themselves, I would not teach again. It would make me ill. I’ve learned what makes me ill. It has POISON written on it.
- It is a good idea to search for and find one’s emotional healer, in whatever form that/it/he/she comes. It’s not a lifetime commitment. It’s whatever gets you through the day. I found an Ayurveda specialist (with correct qualifications and many years of experience) to help me with my emotional needs. He really helped a lot. Doctors in Italy, perhaps the world over, don’t seem to offer to help with the emotional side of pain and confusion. This state needs to be taken care of - with care.
- The nice things! Lots of those! Buy and wear super comfortable underwear. I bought 12 pairs of big white cotton drawers, like Granny wears. They covered my stitches and now they are soft on my scar. I am not ready for sexy underwear yet and this is fine for now. (Getting well is all a process isn’t it?) I bought three lovely nightdresses, a shawl, some pretty slippers from a beautiful store in the center of Rome just before my operation, those few years ago. They have worn thin now, from washing and wearing, but I love them. Men (you don't get endometrial cancer but you might be reading this...) it's a good idea FOR YOU to go out and buy some nice PJ's, and sweats and good comfortable underwear to feel 'cool' in, even when you don't!)
- Sharing with other bloggers on Cancer Help sites is a great idea, not matter what state of mind (or body) you're in. I made a great friend with someone (in England) who was going through exactly the same thing I was going through (in Italy). We shared the private tears. We had a lot of laughs.
It gets to be very pretty
Now I Feel Well.
I really do not worry about the years I have left. I am so excited with my new life there is no need to switch thoughts BACKWARDS to the thoughts or thinking I had before I learned what I have learned. The process of moving from being very ill, to being a very ill patient, to being in therapies, to being in convalescence, to learning how to get better has brought me to this new state - I am well again. It is fantastic.
Thinking or worrying about getting cancer again is a waste of creative energy I have realized.
My creative energy is my prize, today. I’m absolutely enjoying sharing it with everyone I meet along the way.
I sing, “Do whatever it takes to get you through the day!
How do you think you could help people who are dealing with the fear of cancer recurrence?
A Healthy Diet Guide to Recovery from Chemotherapy
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© 2011 Penelope Hart
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