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Cancer In One Word: Journey

September 5th, 2013 |
Caregivers

by tambre | Supporter: Hodgkin's Lymphoma    Connect


Let's face it, when you are faced with a cancer diagnosis, you learn a lot of new words - and old words take on a whole new meaning. In a new series of guest blog posts from cancer coach Tambre Leighn, she will be exploring many of these words that we all can associate with. Read more to find out what she says about the word "journey."

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word "journey" is defined as: "an act or instance of traveling from one place to another."

When it comes to cancer, it's one of those love-it-or-hate-it words - just like "survivor." For some, it helps them identify and speak to the change in direction their life took after a cancer diagnosis. For others, it doesn't capture the serious nature of cancer and sounds more like a vacation to them.

Personally, I see my whole life as a journey - not just the years that were touched by cancer. My life has never been all about goals, but about the experiences I choose to have along the way. For most of us who are touched by cancer - either as a survivor or a caregiver - the overarching goal is to do what it takes to beat it, and be sure it doesn't come back. This makes sense, but does that mean at all costs? When life is based on goals, then we put the quality of life second to the quantity of days, which is often the greatest disconnect between oncology and its patients.

My husband Gary laid down the "cancer law" on the day that he was diagnosed - even before anyone discussed short and longer-term treatment options and the terrible "what if's." The second thing out of his mouth after we left the surgeon's office was, "...and I'll never have a bone marrow transplant." To him, that was a sacrifice that would impact his quality of life - and it was not acceptable to him, no matter what the goal was. If he had been only focused on the goal of curing his cancer, there are so many things he never would have experienced. We wouldn't have moved to the beautiful city of Vancouver for nine months while working together on a film and flying back and forth to LA for his chemo treatments. We wouldn't have ventured to London and Scotland including choosing to take the tube from the airport instead of a cab thereby missing the wandering musicians who serenaded us while in transit. And most certainly, Gary wouldn't have traveled the world first class with Oliver Stone, dining with royalty, and seeing incredible place like Angkor Wat while prepping for a film. All of this didn't mean that we fought any less for him to heal. It just meant we saw cancer as a part of our life, but not the whole thing.

At times, cancer consumed us. Those were the times when we typically disengaged from each other, lived in fear, got stuck in survival thinking and experienced high degrees of stress. As soon as we chose to step off that hamster wheel and take time to just enjoy the little things together, to put cancer on hold for a few hours or a weekend, we tapped back into joy, fun, laughter and lots of wonderful healing energy...and our love for each other which was greater than all things.

Challenge yourself to see your experience with cancer in a way that allows you to generate greater quality of life and meaningful moments. Decide if you are on a mission, a journey, a path or a road, and then ask yourself what detours you can take to make sure you're still living your life the way that you want to -how to be more than just your cancer.


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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.

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