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Screw Hope, Let's Talk Possibility

July 28th, 2012 |

by tambre | Supporter: Hodgkin's Lymphoma    Connect

Treatment is over and the rallying cry to get back to living nips at your heels as you walk out the hospital doors after ringing the bell. You try to join in the celebration and smile along with the hopeful faces. But inside, how do you really feel?

Going through cancer creates multiple major life changes, often leading to living in "survival mode" -- a place where cancer survivors, supporters and fighters can get stuck. I spent years just "surviving" after losing my husband to cancer when he was only 37 years old. I hated being stuck. Even more, I hated feeling as if I was wasting days overwhelmed with depression -- days that he would've given anything to be living for. Certainly, I hoped things would get better.

But hoping wasn't enough.

As I see it, hope is a dangerous prescription. Many of my clients say they choose to work with me because I give them hope - hope that they, too, can get to a place where they feel like they're living again no matter what circumstances they may be facing. But, I'm not a big fan of hope. To me, there is a passive energy to it. With hope, there is almost a sense of waiting for something to change.

So I say, "Screw hope...let's talk possibility!"

Possibility requires you to do something different. It requires you to take action. Coaching is designed to help you do this step by step so that your plan for thriving doesn't become overwhelming and you don't get stuck in that "survival mode." But even if you do, we have tools to help you get back into action quickly.

First comes reality...

You can't start to talk possibility, until you accept reality. The truth is, during and after treatment, you may simply be trying to get from one day to the next. The further out you get from treatment, the greater the expectation is that you'll just pick up where you left off. Meanwhile, you may still be struggling with:

  • Cancer related fatigue
  • Chemo-brain
  • Medical bills
  • Insurance issues
  • Physical & emotional side effects of treatment
  • Body image/intimacy/fertility issues
  • Grieving the loss of, well, everything that cancer can cost you

Even as you struggle, you want to move forward but the idea of navigating the new landscape paralyzes you...or at least makes it feel like you're stuck again, or you're slogging through mud, so your stress level increases.

How does feeling stuck increase your stress level?

You may not know which way to go. Even though the cancer experience tends to remind you that life may be shorter than you imagined, and it's an in your face wake-up call, it can leave you straddling a line and feeling torn. One part of you is yearning to recreate your life and make the most of every moment while the other part of you is wrestling with a list of fears...

  • The future
  • Recurrence
  • Making changes that align with new priorities
  • Being different because of your cancer experience
  • Not knowing how to change behaviors that no longer fit with who you've become
  • Losing people from your inner circle as your values and priorities change

These fears increase your stress level and make you lose sight of the possibilities that lie in front of you.

So you have to take action...

When you have a plan and start to take action, the inner conflict between the voice calling on you to make the most of every day and the fear of moving forward into the unknown is significantly reduced. As the internal conflict recedes, your stress level decreases.

And that's where I come in

Starting now, I will be posting a guest expert piece every two weeks on H3. I'll cover coaching tips, tools and strategies to address a wide range of topics to help improve your quality of life and get out of survival mode.

Part 2 of Screw Hope, is "...Let's Talk Possibility" where we explore what's possible for you right now. We focus on creating manageable baby steps in one area where making some changes would result in you feeling less stressed, more energized and like you were not just surviving the experience of cancer, but living beyond it.

And so, our journey together begins...


(Photo courtesy of I Had Cancer)

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tambre's picture
Tambre Leighn, MA, CPC, ELI-MP is a certified professional coach and founder of Well Beyond Ordinary, who helps cancer survivors and caregivers find the energy to go from surviving to thriving and beyond. Her personal experience caregiving for her late husband inspired Tambre to become a coach, a Stakeholder for the American Cancer Society’s Peer Grant Review Committee, a leading health advocate and blogger, and to co-create Well Beyond This, a coaching based online program for cancer survivors to help them thrive with, through, and beyond cancer. Read more about her story here.