“You are doing better than our other patients who are as advanced as you. What is your secret?”
“How do you find happiness in the midst of all you are going through?”
“I believe that being negative will get me nowhere and only hurt me. I have suffered much trauma in my life and Cancer is just one more trauma my body and my life have to face and endure. I can't determine whether or not I do or don’t have Cancer, but I can decide how I will handle it and face it."
This is the conversation I had with my team of doctors. Often. Both times I had cancer in fact.
Where do you find your happiness?
Let me share with you a few tips that helped and inspired me...
My De-Suckify List aka Happiness Hot List
You can make yours as simple or as fancy as you like. The idea is simple. When you are feeling happy and good, put together a list of things you like to do that pull you out of a bad mood or when things suck or feel like they suck.
It is important to do this when you are in good spirits so you can write down all the things you like to do that make you feel happy. It might be something you like to do with others or even something you like to do alone. As long as it makes you happy.
My list includes:
- Watch comedy movies
- Call a friend
- Go for a walk
- Exercise or move my body
- Do creative things like scrapbooking or vision boards
You can decorate it or make it in a program like Canva. You can even put it together on a Mood Board on Pinterest as long as you have a way to access it when you feel like crap.
My other sources of happiness during cancer were places like:
- The Dragontree
- I fell in love with the Dragontree Dreambook and planner early on in my cancer journey. The dreambook questions were thoughtful and gave me hope for what if I was able to beat cancer. The book asked, "What are your 1 year, 3 year, 10 year, and lifetime goals?" For some going through cancer, they have come to dragontree and struggled with these questions. For me, I found them refreshing because it gave me something to look forward to. None of us here on Earth know if we will be alive tomorrow, so how is it really different for any of us to answer those questions? It feels harder for a Cancer patient/fighter because we see the reality of the end of life more so than others. There are two options to get either the Dreambook alone or the Dreambook with planner. I liked the one with the planner as it helped me keep track of my appointments, tests, scans in the front, while in the back I kept track of my contacts, doctors, and specialists. Planning out my week with fun & happy Planner stickers in conjunction with My Dragontree Dreambook+planner made me feel happy each week. Sometimes I would take the planner and all my stickers with me to chemotherapy to do while I was sitting in the chair. Outside of my Desuckify list, it was easily the item that brought me the most happiness.
- I became a Toastmaster and then two weeks after I found out I had cancer. Though this a club and group of people created to help others gain confidence and become better speakers, they also were a group of people who became my source of happiness and family. Each week I would be excited to attend and see my friends. Even though many times I had to sit in the back or wear gloves or a mask, they always welcomed me and encouraged me. The lessons helped give me a purpose and a focus towards my own personal goals and the people as well as the projects brought me more joy than one can even imagine from an organization. I am proud to be a Toastmaster and happy they were there for me during both of my cancer journeys as well as now.
- For years I used to model as a profession and once I got back into it I did PinUp. When I became sick with cancer I worried that I would not be able to still model but highly wanted to for many reasons. One of the reasons I wanted to do it was because it made me happy. The other reason is that I wanted to show the world that scars are beautiful and we need not hide from them. Cancer does not define us, it is only something that happened to us.
- Fulfilling My Purpose
- The first time I had cancer, I knew my life needed to change. I made some small changes but nothing huge. The second time, I felt like the universe was shouting to me to fulfill my purpose and after using the Dragontree Dreambook+planner for a few years, I feel I have finally found that answer. Living and fulfilling my purpose now in this last journey of my cancer and in the last few months I have been cancer-free have really helped me find my happiness. Knowing I am fulfilling that purpose gives me hope, inspires me and makes me happy and keeps me happy.
I hope these ideas and tools might inspire you to explore what might make you happy during your cancer journey. I truly believe positivity played a huge part in my healing and I believe it can play a huge part in yours as well. If my suggestions don’t resonate with you, that’s ok! Find sources of happiness that do resonate with you. Your journey may or may not be easier at first, but at least you will have a much better outlook on it!
Photo courtesy of the author.