A Cancer Patient's New Year's Resolutions

by Jane Ashley

When we have cancer, we may be prone to “put our lives on hold” or hit the “pause” button on life. But we live every day … regardless of whether we have cancer or not. 

Happy New Year 2020

Here are some New Year’s Resolutions for you to consider:

Get out of the house more often. If you don’t do anything but walk out to the mailbox every day, that’s a good start. You might see a neighbor and be sociable too.
Appreciate and enjoy your friends and family. Maybe not everyone in your circle of friends and family understand and “get it” what it’s like for you to have cancer, appreciate the ones who have been there for you. Embrace their fellowship whenever you can.
Walk the dog or go for a walk just for you. Unless the weather is awful, take the dog for a short walk. Study after study show the benefits of walking the dog or just going for a short walk by yourself. Walking fights depression and helps keep us limber.

Walk To Your Mailbox

Ask for help instead of suffering in silence. If you’re struggling to complete a particular task, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Maybe it’s folding the laundry or washing the evening dishes. Your family can’t read your mind so ask for help.
Prioritize tasks. It’s okay to let some jobs go undone while you’re in treatment. Prioritize your chores and let the less important ones go when you’re tired. The “household chore cop” isn’t coming to our houses to write us up.
Accept that you won’t always have control. Cancer treatment is fluid. If you go in for chemo and your bloodwork reveals that your white counts are extremely low, you’ll be sent home without chemo so that your neutrophil count can recover. Don’t stress over what you can’t change.
I will use Google responsibly. If you want to know more about your kind of cancer or the side effects, use only trusted sources like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN.org) or teaching hospital websites like Mayo, Memorial Sloan Kettering or MD Anderson.
I will ask questions when I don’t understand what my medical team is telling me. Our doctors provide a wealth of useful information, but ask them questions when they talk about something that you don’t understand.
Eat healthier. Little changes add up. Eat one more helping of veggies or fruit (if you’re able). Eat a little less red meat. But if you’re struggling to maintain your weight, eat whatever you can tolerate.

One More Serving

 • Count my blessings. Cancer treatment is difficult, but focus on the things that are going well. If your nausea medicine is working, be grateful. If your chemo is staying on schedule, be thankful. If you feel rested after a nap, be happy. If your scan shows that your tumor is shrinking, do the “happy dance.”
Be kind. It’s easy to get out of sorts when you’re fatigued and don’t feel good, but try your best to be kind to those around you. Remember the old saying, “It’s easier to catch flies with sugar than vinegar.”
Stop and smell the roses. Take the time to appreciate the small joys of life — that first cup of coffee, the beauty of the sunset, or the kindness of your chemo nurse. 

Stop And Smell The Roses

Quit smoking. Nothing will improve your health more than to quit smoking. Ask your medical team to refer you to a smoking cessation program.

Choose two or three of these that you believe would enhance your quality of life. Be kind to yourself — if you feel awful, don’t feel guilty if you don’t go on that walk. But once you feel better, get out again and walk the dog. Forgive yourself if you don’t eat an extra veggie every day. Resist the urge to read negative articles in appear in your Google search.

One last suggestion to make 2020 the best year yet — surround yourself with positive people. Positivity feeds on itself to help you look at the world and see the beauty of being alive.

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