March 11th, 2015
| Survivor: Colon and Rectal Cancer
Staying calm during a cancer diagnosis is an extremely hard thing to do. Your mind immediately assumes the worst. Read more to find out how Helen found a way to remain calm.
The ability to stay calm during a high-stress and scary situation is extremely difficult. After being diagnosed with cancer, it feels like everything changes. Sanity goes out the window and gets replaced with nerves, fears and a sense of hopelessness. You know that if you could only find a way to stay calm, you would be able to think more clearly. But where do you even start? After thinking more about my experience with colon cancer, I was able to pencil out six tips that helped me find some sense of calm in the middle of the storm that is cancer.
1. Affirm your goals every day.
One suggestion is to write two or three immediate goals for yourself on a piece of paper. Perhaps you have taken a mental inventory of what you'd like to see happen and what pressing issues need to be addressed. Having been confronted with a cancer diagnosis immediately forces you to look at life more seriously and with even greater focus and clarity than before.These goals don't just have to be cancer-focused. Goals for your life as a whole, beyond your cancer. This will help to remind yourself that your cancer does not define you.
In my experience, when I was initially diagnosed with cancer, I received a framed cardboard 'Wish Box' from my lovely daughter to hang in my home. Inside the outer frame was a honeycombed liner with small openings to insert paper pieces. The instructions indicated I was to use this box to hold all my wishes and goals for my immediate future. The slots enabled me to stash all the brightly colored pieces. Upon each one, I would write my desires while undergoing my cancer treatments. I would jot down wants and things I dared to dream about, and hoped for myself. I was touching into grace to help me manifest my future and find a sense of calmness. Not only did I write down goals for myself but also for my family and my children.
2. Don't be afraid to ask for help.
When you feel you need direction, ask for it. No one expects you to know exactly what to do and how to act. I've found that when I expect to feel lost, there is no avoiding it. However, if I expect to see the "doors open", then I tend to see signs, find help and notice that the answers are around me constantly. It's a matter of being present enough to witness and accept the help. The more present you decide to become in your life, the more you begin to see things clearly and know which indicators to concentrate on.
Chances are, your loved ones have no idea how they can help you or what you need. How could they possibly know, unless you tell them yourself? There's no shame in needing help. Everybody needs help sometimes - cancer or no cancer. But especially during cancer. It will make your caregivers feel more empowered and useful to know that they are really helping you.
3. Search for grace in your every day life.
Many consider "grace" to be an energy or spiritual force that comes from a divine source. Others believe it to be an internal emotion. Whatever your belief may be, I found out that this 'higher power' is available for you to tap into when you're face-to-face with cancer if you look for it. Wherever you are on your path, what you choose to call it is left to your discretion. The important point is to be aware of its presence. This magnificent energy is available to every one of us. Once you acknowledge the existence of this divine intelligence in your life, you will become more graceful and in turn, more calm. This awareness opens up your mind as you learn to deal with cancer and how it is affecting you or someone you love.
Speaking from my own experience, grace became very apparent to me during my journey and recovery. Even several years later as a proud cancer survivor, I can recall moments when I relied on grace to help me get through tough moments. Whenever I received good news that a scan, test, or chemo session went well, I was so grateful and appreciative of being receptive to my divine guidance. It is so important to listen, pay attention, and take action. When you allow grace to illuminate your own cancer path it will guide you. It is there for you, so use it wisely.
4. Stay open-minded: don't assume the worst.
Cancer is not a death sentence. Repeat after me: cancer is NOT a death sentence. Become more aware whenever you begin to make judgment or shut down opportunities for hope. Try to stay open to the experience as it presents itself and search for things that will inspire you and keep you open-minded. Everything that happens to you, whether you wanted the experience or not, is already there. Why not examine each experience with an open mind? Pay attention to what you learned from the chemo, or losing your hair, or having to take off work, etc.
The more open you can be, the more you allow change to take effect and the more you will see the influence of grace. When you recognize the signs of grace, you enter what is called 'the dance of grace.' You will be better equipped to deal with the adversities and triumphs of dealing with cancer.
5. Help yourself by helping others.
A great way to help yourself is to help others. If you learned something from treatment or figured out a way to get rid of the metallic taste that chemo left in your mouth, or you read a book that gave you a new sense of hope, share that knowledge. Pass it on to others who are you in your shoes, or in the shoes you were just in. This will allow you to feel empowered, useful, and will give this terrible thing called cancer at least some sense of purpose.
6. Take time for yourself.
Cancer isn't the first hard thing you've had to face in your life. It may be the hardest, but it's not the only one. Think about what you would turn to during those other hard times. What used to bring you peace? Yoga, meditation, playing an instrument, exercising, painting, etc? As long as your body permits, take time to do those things again. If they brought you peace and calmness once, chances are they can do it again - even amongst a cancer diagnosis. Set aside some time to really focus on yourself and this practice, no matter what it may be.
Of course, all of these things may seem "easier said than done," but take it from a fellow survivor, the more you mindfully start to implement these tips into your daily life, the more calm you will begin to feel. Slowly but surely.
How did you stay calm during cancer? Let us know in the comments below.
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