If you’re coping with the stress of a cancer diagnosis, consider the following 8 steps to encourage peace with the process.
Acceptance– Acceptance is an important step. Many people do not want to accept their diagnosis because they feel it encourages the cancer to stay. Acceptance does not mean approval. When you fully accept what is you can make clearer choices necessary for your care.
Reach Out – It’s difficult to ask for help, especially if this is something you don’t normally do. Take an honest look at your daily tasks, family commitments, treatment protocols, physician visits, and upcoming procedures. Regularly evaluate your energy level and consider who in your family or friends can help with meals, rides, and companionship during treatments. When you make a plan be sure it’s with those who you can count on to honor their commitments. Seek out assistance from organizations such as the American Cancer Society*, which provides many free or reduced cost services to help you meet these challenges.
Compassion – Be kind and patient with yourself! It’s normal to experience changes in mood, sensations, and symptoms while dealing with side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and medication. Find unconditional love for yourself, your body, and your changing state. Compassion and kindness are necessary to experience peace.
Balance – Find the balance between doing and resting, visiting and quiet, speaking and silence. Check in with yourself and make changes when necessary. Communicate openly with those close to you, and adjust activities according to your needs.
Listen to your body – Learn to listen to your body’s signals. Perhaps keep a journal or jot down some notes to share with your physician during your visits. Keep track of your appetite, sleep habits, and any changes that are of concern.
Embrace – Embrace your medicine, treatments, and procedures as being of the utmost importance for your healing. While some protocols may produce difficult symptoms, it’s important to come to terms with your treatment plan.
Soothe – Learn what soothes your “mind-body”. The nervous system manages your body’s response to inner and outer stress. Many patients report that music, nature, a good book, relaxed breathing, meditation, journaling, time with a cherished pet, or even a warm bath will allow the “mind-body” to take a break from tension and strong sensations.
Support – Inquire about services that are available for you and your family when moving through diagnosis and treatment. Consider professional support when necessary.