My take on Life after cancer….
When you plan a year out you ultimately decide to do so, you plan, you leave ahead on this new adventure ‘completed’ in your current life, planning your journey and although you may not fully know where you may end up you make those contingency plans if anything was to go wrong. The year out that I had didn’t work out a thing like this, and with all the good intentions in the world to remain in some control of life around, I lost my way, I couldn’t keep up and the hardest part was feeling as though I was admitting defeat…because of cancer.
An unwanted change…
I didn’t want to change, I guess I felt angry because it felt as though my ‘choices’ had been taken away from me when this thing called cancer stormed into my life.
I had lived a life of pushing on, I had goals, I wanted to continually better myself and I was forever looking forward, I would always ask ‘what next’. On reflection perhaps, this wasn’t the best of ways for me to live, perhaps the rude awakening was that stop and think moment I needed all along. I don’t thank cancer for anything, I thank myself for stopping and taking note, listening to both my body and mind.
Towards the end of chemotherapy, I started to feel anxious, I was of course over joyed to be coming to the end of a difficult time physically and mentally, I was thankful that I was responding however I was so scared. It took a little while to understand why I felt this way, but it turns out I was so scared of going back to my old ways and the constant pressure I put on myself to always do better. However, what I felt more overwhelmed with was being behind on life? How was I going to catch up? This year out wasn’t the year out of dreams this had been the worse year of my life and I felt so frightened of how I was going to manage. Pressure was creeping in and BANG I felt the most pressured ever, all the mindful training I did, all the effort I put into self care and love….shattered…SO I THOUGHT.
Wake up call….
This itself was another wakeup call derived from cancer, this was another test and maybe without this test I wouldn’t truly put lifestyle change into action. Like I always say, sometimes the pain you feel is necessary to rebuild your world just as it should be, and learn to be the best version of you, for you, by you.
I wanted to share this blog as I have learnt from speaking with others that these same emotions and worries are perfectly normal, and it is what we learn from them which really counts. I want you to know if you are reading this feeling the same that you aren’t alone, and I want to share my personal advice on overcoming all these gremlins cancer leaves you with sharing a plan of attack and hopefully something which will make you feel as though you are positively taking back control of your life.
- Get pen and paper at the ready. All those thoughts circling around in your mind, things to do, places to be, people to contact, emails to catch up on, birthdays you have forgotten, everything, every little thought that is clogging up that mind space get it written down on paper
- Read it back. As daunting as this may seem and although I guess that is a big part of why we avoid writing things down, as it was for myself, looking through the ‘list’ isn’t as bad as you may think, in fact it’s actually quite liberating and will leave you feeling as though you have taken a step forward, doesn’t matter how big the step, you are moving forward in the right direction.
- Say yes to help. Two points here, call on your partner, friend, child, parent someone who knows you well and someone who is always willing to help. Go through your list with them, get their opinion, I guarantee that list will be halved. Why? Well you have emptied your mind and we all know that the mind gets clogged with unwanted and unnecessary jobs ‘to do, these jobs spiral from the feeling of losing control. We can be our own worse enemy, we may have a few things that we need to do but because we feel they are too large of a job we make it even more difficult for ourselves and throw in other unimportant tasks that really don’t need to be addressed! Don’t feel silly for any points like this, they are out of your head and you will be able to think a little clearer now, so all is good, this is all necessary, this leads me onto the next point.
- Take that new improved list and start to prioritise, put the most important at the top then work your way through. This part is so rewarding because you can really see a plan of attack taking shape.
- Ask for help. Here we are again, I am so bad at this, I genuinely believe I can take on the world alone at times, I feel like I don’t want to bother people and I convince myself I prefer the challenge, when actually cancer taught me to accept help and together we are more, SO TAKE THE HELP. Once you have prioritised your list take a little look and see what points could be aided by help from others, pop their names next to them and give them a call, people want to help trust me, but how can they help if you don’t ask?!
- One step at a time. When you have completed the previous steps and you feel enthused and calmer knowing that you have the helping hand of others and you are also starting to navigate through your tasks, slowly remember, this is not a race. I have to tell myself all the time to SLOW DOWN. If I have tasks to complete I want to complete them in 24 hours, it’s this crazy immense pressure I seem to want to put on myself, I wind up in a total pickle and before I know it I’m back at square one, burnt out and a total loss of direction so please GO SLOW, if you do a ‘me’ breath take a step back and go back to the beginning, don’t be so hard on yourself, I am writing this whilst taking note by the way…. If you tackle only one point out of 20 on the list over a couple days that’s totally fine, I’ll remind you again, you are another step FORWARD…. you are moving in the right direction this is fantastic, Rome wasn’t built in day.
- Adding to the list. Ok, here’s the thing, life isn’t planned, hey I don’t need to tell you that if you are reading this after cancer, there will be other ‘thoughts’ or tasks you think up or appear to need attention whilst completing the previous tasks. Don’t allow this to phase you or put you off the job in hand, all I suggest is writing them down completing step two and three again and then re place this on your list in a prioritised order, remember this is totally normal for other things to crop up just don’t allow them to get in the way of all of your hard work, you are doing great.
- The “To be” lists. Jay Shetty shared quite a powerful video all about, instead of ‘to do’ lists we should create a ‘to be ‘list. What do we want to be in the now? I would highly recommend between each point of ‘to do’ write a line of what you want ‘to be’ even if you can’t think of something new each time just repeat what your previously noted, this way you are giving yourself a gentle calming reminder that although you have tasks to complete, you are still taking time out for self-care and love which is one of the most important tasks we all should complete and face daily.
I really hope this gives you some direction. It’s quite funny that whilst writing this I take note too and it gives me the direction I need to move forward in the right direction. Stay calm, stay true and remember you can be the best version of you now, from the darkness can come light. You will get there, but the key is to have that sense of self achievement of moving forward, and hey, we could all do with some of that.