When diagnosed with cancer your life is now forever changed. Actually your life, as well as the lives of the people that care about you, forever change. Surviving cancer becomes the goal, it takes over, and while different people tackle this task in different ways, the challenges are similar.
“You can be a victim of cancer, or a survivor of cancer. It’s a mindset.” – Dave Pelzer
Being a cancer survivor is indeed a mindset but how to achieve the right mindset?
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The Two Stages To Surviving Cancer
The First stage: The Acute Stage
This stage takes place in the first days and months after diagnosis. During that time there is a whirlwind of activity.
- Doctors’ visits,
- lab work,
- maybe surgery, possibly radiation and chemotherapy.
Literally most people switch to “survival mode”. A fight or flight reaction.
For some it is a time to take charge, but for others they relinquish power and let others make decisions for them and take care of them. There is no right or wrong. Cancer is very personal.
The Second Phase: Long Term
- Maybe treatments are finished, at least for a time, and
- the person now has time to look at their life and reflect.
There is great difficulty during this phase because it seems to the cancer survivor that he or she are no longer doing anything active to improve their health.
Very often I find that anxiety increases around this time and a great sense of fear takes over.
- “What’s next?”
- “Am I cured?”
- “Is it coming back?”
Every ache or small sign can be interpreted as an indication that things are not going well. Questions come up about why they got sick in the first place. Often this is the time that people find themselves looking for explanations, or amybe for a way to better understand….
To actually survive cancer, this second phase of healing is crucial.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at a time of challenge and controversy.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
Experiencing fear and anxiety every day is the last thing that anyone should live with, the negative effects on your health both physical and emotional have been documented over and over again. You can read more about that in my blog on stress
When a person has a history of cancer the research shows that chronic stress is particularly harmful and may play a rather important part in surviving cancer.
“Evidence from experimental studies does suggest that psychological stress can affect a tumor’s ability to grow and spread. For example, some studies have shown that when mice bearing human tumors were kept confined or isolated from other mice—conditions that increase stress—their tumors were more likely to grow and spread (metastasize). In one set of experiments, tumors transplanted into the mammary fat pads of mice had much higher rates of spread to the lungs and lymph nodes if the mice were chronically stressed than if the mice were not stressed. Studies in mice and in human cancer cells grown in the laboratory have found that the stress hormone norepinephrine, part of the body’s fight-or-flight response system, may promote angiogenesis and metastasis”
The Challenges of Surviving Cancer
These vary from person to person but there are some common threads:
- Do you experience daily fear and anxiety?
- Do you experience the effects of chemotherapy on your brain and you don’t feel as capable as you used to be. Your memory not the same. Your ability to read or process information reduced….
- Possibly you have gained or lost tremendous amount of weight and you are having a hard time going back to your healthy weight
- You may be suffering some chronic pain at the surgery site or other long term complications from the treatment of you illness.
It seems almost crazy to expect to not have stress when you consider the multitude of problems cancer survivors are faced with. And truth be told, there is indeed that possibility that the disease will come back. So the fear in a way makes sense. So what can you do to live better and feel better and at the same time increase your chances of maintaining and even improving your health?
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Strategies For Surviving Cancer
I find that the people that take an active role in their health both physical and emotional are those that do the best and live the more fulfilling and happier life. This is true for all people, but especially important for the cancer survivor.
Taking an active role means creating a plan for yourself that addresses all aspects of your health.
Some Important Strategies
- Eating to prevent cancer is crucial. My various blogs: on organic eating, on why animal protein poses a big problem and on cancer prevention, all give you more information on this topic. The bottom line is: plant based diet with little or no animal protein, clean water and non processed foods.
- Living in gratitude. Paying attention on purpose, daily, to the things you are grateful for was proven by research to alleviate stress and increase well-being. Create a habit of listing the things you are grateful for daily.
- Meditation and relaxation. There is endless research on how the practice of mediation and mindfulness improves your health and reduces your stress. More information in my blog on the mind-body connection. Know that everyone is capable of meditation. There are many apps now that can be downloaded to help facilitate the practice of meditation.
- Exercise is crucial. Walking, swimming, cycling, whatever you are capable of.
- Planning for pleasant activities. Bringing joy into your life in a manner that suits you. For one person it could be sitting on the beach at sunset, for another person, a funny movie at the movie theater. Regardless of what activity it is. Make sure your week includes such a plan.
- Other important factors in surviving cancer are the relationships we have and the connections we make.
Remember always that we are here on this earth at this time temporarily. The truth is that our lives will end one way or another and we cannot predict the time and the manner nor can we control fate. The only thing we can control is how we live every day of our lives. We can make a choice to live life to the fullest and make the most of our time here on earth.
I do not claim that this is easy to do. I do know that with the right help it is possible to live better. Thrive and don’t just survive is a way of life
The Integrative Hypnotherapy Program For Surviving Cancer
In my practice the hypnosis for cancer program includes support on all levels for the clients that come to see me. From nutrition and exercise, to meditation and mindfulness, all aspects of health are incorporated into a comprehensive program. The program includes hypnosis as well to work on the fears and anxiety and increase motivation to live a healthy and balanced life. Each person receives a customized self hypnosis recording that guides them through a daily practice with positive messages designed specifically for them.
If you want more information please schedule a 30 minute free phone consult by clicking on the button below