fbpx

Lifestyle

Adoption of positive health behaviors (e.g. diet, exercise, stress, alcohol, nicotine, recreational drugs)

Samenesses and Differences

Samenesses and Differences

Well, it’s me again! And there is only one me! 

I often answer the phone this way. The patient usually asks, “Who is this”? (Amazingly, none of them have ever hung up on me. I guess they’re intrigued.) 

“It’s Dr. van Londen.” 

“Ah, I thought I recognized your voice.”

“There is only one me.” This is the point when the person on the other side of the line starts chuckling. 

But it’s true, there is only one me – and only one you. We are all unique. Inside and out. That’s fortunate because otherwise we would have a boring world! But we are also very similar in many ways, often to our surprise. Realizing this can be a relief and gives us a sense of belonging. 

I find it fascinating to think about our sameness and differences. When interacting with another person, I try to find the features that make us similar to build a sort of common ground and from there feel comfortable to explore the differences between us. 

We all at one point or another have struggled to balance the desire to fit in, as well as a desire to stand out (and be brave enough to show our differences and uniqueness). Being different requires courage, since it may result in misunderstanding, resistance, or perhaps even rejection and bullying, making you feel like you are swimming upstream. 

The ability to achieve a perfect balance, ideally in sync with those around you, is an illusion. It’s an always moving target. The risk of getting out of sync is higher when only one of you changes their rhythm based on personal (perhaps even life-altering) experiences. 

At some point in our lives, we all have experienced our own unique combination of milestones, such as birth, illness, marriage, death, loss of job, or financial stress. However, the details and subtleties of these events and how each of us experience them are what make us unique. You are special, but not alone. The more you communicate with others who are like you, the more you will realize your strength and uniqueness. All of us together can complement each other and complete the pieces of a puzzle. 

Trying to fit in or stand out may not be sustaining in the long run. Give yourself permission to be you, to float along as the water ebbs and flows, back and forth in a natural, unforced cycle, a particle floating in sync with the universe.

Cancer: Why Me? Why Now?

Cancer: Why Me? Why Now?

Many of my patients understandably wonder and ask, “Why did I get cancer?” I do not necessarily have a medical or scientific answer. I wonder if the question behind the question is, “Why me?” From that question comes others: “Why now? Can it happen again? What can I do to prevent that?” 

There are certain risk factors that predispose one to cancer. These factors (including genetics, environment, and lifestyle) are also associated with poorer outcomes for certain patients. However, there is not always a cause-effect relationship. 

My late mentor taught me a simple way to explain the different levels of cancer risk; it can also be applied to those who carry a cancer diagnosis. On the one end is the general population for whom gender/age appropriate cancer screening guidelines apply. On the other end are those whose families transmit the cancer gene. For this group, we have proactive and comprehensive approaches to try to decrease the risk. Lastly, is the in-between group whose cancer risk is unknown. These are people who have had one cancer diagnosis. This puts them at an undefined higher risk than the general population to get another cancer, but at lower risk than those who harbor the cancer gene. (Unfortunately, data is lacking for those “in-between” individuals, so we resort to general population guidelines). 

Even though we are in the 21st century, nature and our bodies remain a mystery with many unknown variables. Sometimes we just really don’t know why cancer happens to you or why it happens when it does. Questions that probe the why are good, though. Our why questions reflect how we cope with our diagnosis and try to make sense of it. They indicate our curiosity to try to understand the mystery of life. This is healthy as long as we acknowledge that life’s mystery is one that likely won’t be unraveled entirely for another few generations, if ever.

A cancer diagnosis never comes at the right time. (If not now, when?) It can happen to anyone. (If not you, who?) As the current pandemic teaches us, we are not invincible or immortal. Life is not fair. Embrace your curiosity and let it empower you without letting it overwhelm you. 

Be kind to you and others….

Thank you for visiting me. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

Cancer and Loneliness

Cancer and Loneliness

Currently, our society is engaged in social distancing to minimize Coronavirus’ footprint. Many of us are spending more time at home which can help us to rekindle our connections with our loved ones, but some of us are lonely. Elderly people may not have or know how to use devices that would allow them access to social media, FaceTime and the like. And even if you are able to stay in touch electronically, it’s not the same as having a physical, personal interaction. 

This made me think about cancer survivors (and their caregivers), many of whom may be alone at some point in their journey. This solitude may serve a purpose for many, but there’s a thin line between solitude and loneliness, which reflects a state of suffering and sadness due to lack of company

As a cancer survivor or caregiver, you may withdraw into yourself for a number of reasons. For instance, it may help you to process your thoughts and feelings and get ready for the overwhelming new situation that you have on your hands. Another reason could be self preservation; you may not want others to see you at your most vulnerable. Keeping up a facade to protect others from your feelings and thoughts or the severity of your situation may be another reason. Also, it can be distracting to have to navigate the reactions of others around you if you barely have enough reserve to keep yourself going.

However, it takes two to tango! People around you may give you more emotional or physical space than you need. They may want to avoid ‘bothering’ you. They may not know how to be of any help or what to say. They may not want to cause hurt by saying the wrong thing or introducing infectious organisms. But it can also be due to the fact that those not affected don’t want to physically contract cancer or have their perfect life stained by the perceived misery.

The reason for my outlining the different reasons for loneliness is that it may help you to gain insight into the potential drivers behind your behavior, which can prevent misunderstandings and allow you and your loved ones to communicate more openly and respectfully with each other and health care providers, and therefore act with more intent and purpose.

Thank you for visiting me. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

Focus on the Journey

Focus on the Journey

Recently, I heard a speaker discuss the concept of “horse racing” in context of an academic setting where one’s career progress depends on one’s ability to compete at the national and institutional levels for recognition of one’s worth and legacy (grants, papers). It struck me that the same concept happens to some degree in our society as a whole. We often find ourselves in an exhausting rat race where luck comes into play. We all strive for a delicate balance between fitting into society’s mold and standing out from the crowd. A certain degree of peer pressure is healthy, but no matter how hard we try, success is not a guarantee. Many factors are outside of our control.

A cancer diagnosis may impede one’s ability to perform and compete due to lack of time, energy, or motivation. Plus, cancer survivors may find themselves in an additional race with life that may lessen their sensitivity to judgment and societal pressures. This may have its own anxiety-inducing aspects, initially. At the end of the day though, the race is never completed. Sometimes we change our definition of success. At other times, we realize our goals are unrealistic or that there are bigger and better goals to achieve. Realizing it’s about the journey rather than the destination may provide comfort by allowing you to enjoy the here and now, rather than focusing on the past or future. In some strange way this may allow you to be less restless and conflicted and more able to listen to your inner voice which can guide you to find the peace and courage to serve a unique purpose in this world. Don’t be afraid to ask for support from loved ones or professionals while on this journey. 

Thank you for visiting me. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Learn & Think, Live & Feel:

Breast Cancer Conversations‘ podcast: “Making Sense of What Just Happened“.

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

Pulled in Different Directions

Pulled in Different Directions

We all know that time is precious, but my patients tell me — and I experienced myself — that the concept of time changes after a cancer diagnosis. You suddenly wonder how much time you may have left for everything you want to accomplish. Oh boy, there is so much to be and do! Make your legacy. Spend time with loved ones. Maintain your body as healthily as you can. Some of these goals and tasks, whether simple or complex, are in direct conflict with each other which can cause decision fatigue and frustration. How do you decide what’s more important? How do you compare the choices when they are different like apples and oranges?

Do you eat that cookie or a carrot?

Do you go to the gym or sleep a little more?

Do you spend time with loved ones or alone?

Do you stay in your current secure job or do you venture into a job that is more meaningful to you?

Do you work on your career or preserve your free time?

Do you build towards a legacy or make memories with loved ones? Can you find something that would target both?

Do you simplify your life by downsizing your house or keep everything as it is until the end and have others help at that point? 

Do you spend money on a trip to visit your loved ones or a trip to a new destination so you can broaden your horizons and become newly inspired?

Do you have a(nother) child, find a new partner, friend, or pet or spend more time with the loved ones currently in your life? 

There is no magic answer, no way to know that the choice, decision, or path you arrive at will work for you. In fact, the “right” answer may continue to change over time. 

Some choices might be more challenging than others. Desire and fear can coexist; human minds are fascinatingly complex. Your thoughts and feelings can be opposed, perhaps resulting in feeling ambivalent, conflicted or shut down. You might be able to repress one of the opposing thoughts or feelings temporarily, but sooner or later the conflict may come to haunt you again. Conflicts between quantity vs. quality of life and hope vs. reality might become more intense when the stakes are higher, such as for cancer survivors.

It’s possible to work your way through decision-making on your own by reflecting on it in your diary or during a nature walk, but sometimes you may need to talk with loved ones or even a professional. We all have blind spots and others can help us understand why we are conflicted and facilitate a resolution. 

Here are a few pointers to help you with your next fork in the road:

  • Make decisions or plans when you are well rested and well fed.
  • If you have the luxury, sleep a few nights over your decisions to ensure you’ve made a choice you’ll continue to feel good about.
  • Discuss the decision with your loved ones and the persons who will be affected by the decisions you’re about to make. This, along with possibly talking to a professional who can help you gain insight into the motivation behind your thinking, will hopefully provide clarity.
  • Sometimes it can be helpful to break a decision down into smaller steps and decisions.

Nature has a way of working things out on its own. A constellation of circumstances like humidity, temperature, and wind create a unique snowflake that can travel for miles carried by the wind, being pulled in seemingly random directions, until it reaches its destination and falls into place with many other snowflakes creating a beautiful white blanket that provides shelter from the harsh weather for animals and protects plants and roots until the warmer weather causes each snowflake to turn into water again, continuing the circle of life.

Thank you for visiting me. Below I’ve included a few things to educate and entertain you. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Learn and Think:

Live and Feel:

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

Magic Wand

Magic Wand

Once upon a time, I wished there were a magic wand that would:

Take all the pressures, stress, and worries away and allow me to be in peace. 

Fix it all.

Make me feel invincible again. 

Remove the dark cloud hanging over me, push away the fear of recurrence that was always in the back of my mind. 

Prevent me from needing to see so many health care providers and do so many tests.

Make the simple things easy again, such as using my body to get around in life. 

Allow me to be comfortable with my own body.

Enable me to keep up with work, family, friends. 

Prevent me from asking, ”How do you know?” when people tell me that all will be fine and “Do I have a choice?” when people tell me to hang in there. 

Make my medical bills disappear. 

Remind me to go through life walking like a tortoise, with occasional little sprints like a hare. 

Reduce my use of the words “I should” and make me less hard on myself. 

Teach me to accept not having made the healing progress I was told to expect, rather than fighting it. 

Help me grieve for my old me and find the new me.

Make me feel I belong and am accepted for who I am as a person, rather than for what I do professionally or what I cannot do emotionally and physically. 

Even though there is no magic wand, I believe humans have magic powers. Over time, sometimes with the help from loved ones or professionals, we can find our “happily ever after”. It may not be in ways we imagined, but it may be more happiness than we would have found without having gone through cancer. It often takes hardship to be humble and appreciate the good. 

Thank you for visiting me. Below I’ve included a few things to educate and entertain you. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Learn and Think:

  • Colon cancer screening guidelines have been updated to reflect the new advised starting age of 45. Katie Couric has televised one of her prior colonoscopies and provides logistical and practical guidance on this site
  • Middle-class Americans getting crushed by rising health insurance costs is a sad reality. If you find yourself in financial difficulties, there is no easy solution, but please let your healthcare providers know so they can connect you with local resources for support. At the national level, the American Cancer Society provides some very practical and concrete solutions. 

Live and Feel:

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

Cancer Fight – Supplements, Time

Cancer Fight – Supplements, Time

Dear Fellow Traveler,

It seems like I’m always seeing and hearing people describe cancer patients as being in a fight with cancer. The word “fight” makes sense in many ways, but at the same time it makes me cringe a little because the word can mean many different things depending on one’s cancer status and where a survivor is in their healing journey. 

Dealing with cancer might be the major fight of and for our lives using a heavy arsenal of artillery like chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. However, using the word “fight” suggests that cancer and we are equal partners and that we have a fair chance to win. With our current medical knowledge, we do not always have that chance. Thinking of cancer as a fight may make cancer patients feel like they have failed their loved ones (who are often unrelenting cheerleaders!) and themselves when cancer starts to “win”. This may give a person in the final stages of their life a heavy burden to carry – shame, embarrassment, and guilt — as if they could and should have tried harder to fight it. It is important to remember that the fight with cancer is not fair. The knowledge and therapies available to us in the 21st century do not yet guarantee that we can outsmart cancer. And yes, lifestyle may play a role too – but we have to note that there are so many other, often unknown, factors in our body, the black box, that affect cancer outcomes

Cancer is our enemy, since it can literally attack and break our bodies down resulting in suffering and death. The emotional rollercoaster it sets us on may result in anger, sadness, and frustration. But over time, perhaps with help from others (including professionals) we may be able to see the silver lining of a cancer diagnosis. It confronts us with the fragility of life and teaches us empathy, humility, and the value of time and love (which can, at times, seem rather abstract). In the end, we all try to make sense of our lives, the good and the bad, by telling our life stories in a way that makes sense to us, comforts us and allows us to be at peace. 

Cancer therapies can result in battle scars. Emotional scars, in the most extreme form, can be similar to the PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) that soldiers have when they return from war. Physical scars — from surgery, radiation, procedures, port placements, etc. — serve as a constant reminder of your illness when you look in the mirror or when other people ask about them. That may be more than you or your loved ones can handle. Healing may require a little bit of work to allow you to accept that cancer is a part of your life story and new identity, but nothing more than that. Even though cancer can be all-consuming, you are defined by more than your disease. Recognizing this may allow you to remain graceful, resilient and adaptive when others comment on your scars. You may openly explain to them that you are not ready to delve into that topic yet or are not ready to deal with their emotions. Alternatively, you may have a ready-to-go, light reply that strikes a balance between humor and respect (“Oh! Those are my battle scars!”) that allows you to kindly dismiss and change the topic. Most people will get the hint. 

When a person deals with cancer, depending on where they are in their healing journey, describing them as fighting cancer can be a seemingly innocent, yet charged label, that may give them the feeling of being a loser or a failure.  Remember, the fight isn’t always fair. I believe every person is brave and deserves a Medal of Honor! 

Thank you for visiting me. Below I’ve included a few things to educate and entertain you. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Learn and Think:

Live and Feel:

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

The Gifts and Challenges of Caregiving

The Gifts and Challenges of Caregiving

Dear Fellow Travelers,

When my husband got sicker, there was no denying that aside from work, he would be unable to contribute at home. There was no question, no need to talk it through. I had to step up and take responsibility — managing my job, a baby, my husband’s needs, and a household on my own with limited resources. This dynamic lasted for years. He was not aware of how much I tried to handle. When I started to deal with my health issues, I felt, as a strong and independent woman, that I could not and should not ask for help.  My health issues were minor in comparison to his. Over time, he started to heal more while my health issues lingered and resulted in difficulty getting around. This required me to clearly communicate what I needed help with, and it required my husband to hear me and meet my needs.

As you can imagine, this sounds easier than it was. Men and women are from different planets and have different ways of feeling, thinking, and communicating. On top of that, the dynamics in our household were constantly changing in response to a growing child and both of our jobs and health issues. My husband and I alternated between being a caregiver vs. needing a caregiver – sometimes even at the same time. These dynamic power shifts did not always go smoothly, causing friction and extra stress. At some points, we would talk patiently and transparently and find a compromise that would work for us all. At other times, we would say things that would hurt each other and would end up feeling regretful. We always aimed for the former, but to our frustration, we often ended up with the latter. 

Caregivers can be anyone who feels responsible, has the resources and time, and loves you –  spouse, parent, child, or friend. Caregiving may feel like a duty or obligation at times — if no one else is available to take on the responsibility,  if you feel it’s your turn (when caring for your parents), or if you’re stepping up because you’ve promised loyalty through thick and thin to your spouse. Some people seem to be more naturally skilled in anticipating another person’s needs and wants than others. Similarly, some of us are better at expressing our needs and wants. These two qualities are related – the more a person feels genuinely cared for, the more they are willing to ask for help. But even if caregiving does not come as naturally to a person, this skill can be fostered over time with love and patience  (Still, sometimes external support may be needed from professionals.)

Both the caregiver and care-recipient have their limits. Pushing beyond those may lead to exhaustion and conflict, in particular when stressed due to constant change or mismatched dynamics, for example:

  • Grief. Both parties may be in different stages of acceptance.
  • Autonomy. There is no manual. Every duo needs to make their own decisions about when to ask for help and when to give help without becoming too overbearing. Both of you may change your perspectives on loss of independence over time.
  • Self-centeredness. When we don’t feel well, we often need to focus on ourselves to get through the day. If the normal balance between giving and receiving is out of sync for a prolonged period of time, it can lead to guilt for the recipient and exhaustion/resentment for the giver.
  • Finances. When illness results in more money going out than in, this can cause major stress on every facet of one’s life. The caregiver may feel strained between finding ways to earn more money (which may require hiring help for home) versus doing it all alone.
  • Affection. When preoccupied with health issues, expressions of affection are not to be undervalued since they help to keep the bond strong and resilient. The ways in which you express your love for one another may need to be changed, because the illness may have changed your physical, functional, or emotional abilities. At times, it may also help for both parties to mingle with other person(s). Sometimes, even the kindness of strangers can be surprisingly helpful. (Beware, however, some strangers may not appreciate your vulnerable state because they cannot relate). 
  • Logistics. At times caregiving by a loved one may become too challenging for financial, physical, or emotional reasons. In these cases, it may help to talk with your providers to explore relevant sources of support, including but not limited to respite care, which allows the caregiver a chance to recharge. 

For the most part, every duo is unique. Both members of the duo need to make decisions and compromises that they feel respected by and at peace with to maintain the relationship. Please keep in mind that it usually is more like a marathon than a sprint. You are only human; give yourself permission to refuel. You cannot help another if you have nothing to give. Ideally, caregiving can be a win-win for both the caregiver and care-recipient. It’s good to feel that you have support and will be carried when needed. Similarly, being of help to someone provides meaning to our lives! 

Thank you for visiting me. Below I’ve included a few things to educate and entertain you. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on FacebookInstagramTwitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Learn and Think:

Live and Feel:

As cancer survivors know, that dread disease [cancer] is a challenge, and it helps to know that people are rooting for you”. She vowed to stay on the job “as long as I’m healthy and mentally agile.

Quote from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

I Just Need to Lose Weight! – Updated Cancer Exercise Guidelines, and more.

I Just Need to Lose Weight! – Updated Cancer Exercise Guidelines, and more.

Dear Fellow Traveler,

As we are heading into the holiday season, many of my patients are dreading the temptation of being surrounded by lots of food (cookies!) and the resulting weight gain.  When concerned about health outcomes, weight is an easy culprit – blame it on the weight!  Recently while discussing new health issues, one of my patients told me — surprisingly calmly considering this has been a priority for this patient for years already —  “I just need to lose weight”. I sensed the defeat and helplessness.

Weight is a topic that is central in many people’s lives. It can be viewed statically (as the number on our scale, our perception of our weight) or dynamically (losing weight or gaining weight too fast and/or unintentionally). Weight is associated with many negative feelings, such as defeat, helplessness, shame, guilt, frustration, embarrassment, judgment, sadness, and stress. These feelings can contribute to unhealthy eating patterns and the vicious cycle of emotional/stress eating, or even yo-yo dieting. Almost every patient asks me about their weight. What can they do to get it and keep it down? What should their weight goal and speed of weight loss be? Which weight loss methods are the best?

The misconception often goes that if one is more disciplined, one will have better weight control. But weight control cannot be simply reduced to only two factors, food intake and energy expenditure. There are many unknowns about which factors control and stabilize one’s weight. This makes it hard to determine the best interventions for losing weight. Many different homeostasis models have been proposed by the scientific community, such as the set-point theory. Beyond that, in regard to  improving cancer outcomes, we do not yet fully understand which factors matter most – e.g. weight in normal range, weight loss, physical fitness, redistribution of fat deposits.

There is not a magic solution. There are many resources out there to guide weight loss, most of which manipulate what/when you eat and how active you are, but most have not been studied or compared with robust scientific methods. Everyone has to find the approach that fits with their belief system, personality, and lifestyle. Here are a few general pointers that you may find helpful:

  • Any change is hard. Start low and go slow. This will allow you to solidly integrate a new habit it in your life.
  • Multiple small interventions may be more sustainable and wholesome than a one-prong approach. E.g. Swap out your current breakfast for oatmeal or call your friend while walking around the block.
  • Rather than pursuing diets that omit certain food groups or ask you to fast for a prolonged period of time, it may help to pursue a diet as nature intended: a wholesome, plant-enriched diet of moderation and variety, while minimizing processed foods.
  • Please allow yourself a treat every now and then since eating also allows you to socialize and enjoy life.

If ever the cancer should recur, then I hope you will not blame yourself, since there are more factors associated with cancer outcomes than lifestyle. You can only do your best with the resources and the physical/emotional abilities available to you, and you likely will fall off the wagon once or even several times along the journey. The point is that you keep trying in ways that fit where you are in life!

Thank you for visiting me. Below I’ve included a few things to educate and entertain you. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Learn and Think:

  • A near decade-old guideline update has been released, issued jointly by the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Cancer Society and 15 other international organizations, with new advice about physical activity for cancer survivors. More precise and practical details are still needed from future studies, however. As always – any exercise is better than nothing!

Live and Feel:

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

You Cannot Always Win – Cancer Survivorship Apps, The Biggest Little Farm

You Cannot Always Win – Cancer Survivorship Apps, The Biggest Little Farm

Dear Fellow Traveler,

Sometimes my life feels a bit complicated, like a chess game in which I’m always trying to anticipate and strategize. I guess everyone’s life is like this, but dealing with a chronic health issue adds another layer of complexity. If your health causes you to have less energy at the beginning of your day, if that energy is drained faster because your body is less fit and if you have extra tasks to take care of your health (e.g. doctor’s appointments, medical tests, paperwork for e.g. leave/disability/accommodations), life can become overwhelming. At times it may even feel like you’ve been checkmated!

Most of us try everything we can to control our quantity of life to the degree that quality of life may suffer. For instance, many things we do because we think they’re healthy may turn out to have downsides (e.g. vitamin intake may be associated with lesser survivalcalcium pill intake may be associated with heart disease and Zantac may contain a carcinogen). Please note that all of these observations do not imply cause/effect, but reflect associations requiring further investigation. 

It can sometimes feel like you can’t win. You take two steps forward and one back, or one step forward and two back. It may help to remember that life is a marathon, not a sprint. When you find yourself spinning your wheels without clear purpose, stop and breath. Be kind to yourself. Rest, sleep, watch a movie, anything to allow your brain and body to rest and gain a new perspective. We’re not the only ones who have a hard time making sense of life. Even though we live in the 21st century, the medical community still has a lot to learn about our bodies, this ‘black box’ in which many systems are closely balanced and interrelated.

The internal tension you may feel forcing you to ‘fight for your survival’ after you have faced a traumatizing diagnosis like cancer is (in most cases) a normal and healthy response. You may need to find ways to distract from your own thoughts and feelings and navigate your internal energy outwards into more productive channels. I have listed a few examples to get you inspired! Please note that I intentionally did not list exercise, sleep, and diet, since they can become more a source of stress than relief in cancer survivors. Also, I did not list much about relaxation techniques (e.g. yoga, meditation), because when you have so much inner energy boiled up, it may be quite difficult to relax. First try blowing off some steam by actively doing any of the following:

  • Invest time each week in creating a calendar that visually outlines your schedule. This may allow you to recognize conflicts and/or reorganize days that may prove to be rather hectic. Break tasks down into smaller steps and rank them by priority — in terms of what you need as well as what you want! Perhaps ask a loved one to help you plan your calendar so you can identify opportunities for them to support you or join you in social activities that you can both look forward to and enjoy. (Feel free – or better yet – I challenge you to make plans to spend a few hours together doing nothing!) 
  • Absorb nature (even if you only sit) and allow all your senses to be stimulated. It can be a calming and humbling experience! 
  • Distract yourself by getting a new hobby. (What were your favorite activities to lose yourself in when you were younger?) 
  • Express your thoughts and feelings to yourself (e.g. by writing them down or typing them into your phone) or to others. Sometimes it may feel safer to express your worries to people you don’t love (such as a healthcare provider) since you may not want to hurt your loved ones with your worst thoughts/feelings. 

Control is an illusion. Please allow yourself to accept the things that you cannot change, since fighting them only makes your life harder. Life is not only about the destination, but also about the journey. Please be kind to you along the way by acknowledging that no matter how hard you try, you cannot always win! 

Thank you for visiting me. Below I’ve included a few things to educate and entertain you. Remember, I share ‘extra treats’ if you follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest! Plus, you can get notified of a new posting by subscribing to our newsletter!

Learn and Think:

  • A review of publicly available apps for cancer survivors.

Live and Feel:

  • A fascinating movie (The Biggest Little Farm) tells the true story of a young couple who left Los Angeles to successfully start a farm for a barking rescue dog whom they had promised would never change families again. Enjoy going back to nature while you watch this!

Please help by nudging us if you encounter technical problems.

%d bloggers like this: