Simple Thoughts to Make Life Easier When Dealing With Cancer

by Jane Ashley

Sometimes just living seems so difficult during treatment or as a survivor. Pain, discomfort, fear of recurrence, side effects, lingering side effects afterward — it seems more than a soul can bear. 

Choose To Be Happy

Yet we persist and continue with life. And yes, we even experience joy and happiness. But are there ways to make our life easier?
These simple thoughts might be the answer to help us slosh through our rainy days.

I look for the Silver Linings.

Our diagnosis sucks. There’s no getting around that. We hope and pray that we’ll never hear those words – “I’m sorry, but it’s cancer.” Yet here we are at WhatNext seeking support in our new battle.
How do we find a Silver Lining? We have to look — it might be that it is only Stage I and very treatable. It might be that we discover that we have excellent insurance coverage so we don’t have to worry about the financial aspects of this disease.

I live one day at a time.

Most of the things that we worry about won’t ever happen. Cancer treatment is fluid. If our blood counts are too low, we don’t get chemo this week. Worrying about tomorrow’s “what ifs” takes away all of our pleasure today. It’s only natural to be concerned about scan results, but if we can’t change the outcome of what we’re concerned or worried about, try to put it up the top shelf of your brain. Worry about it if and when it happens. 

Today

I am grateful for my blessings.

Others wonder how we can be grateful for our blessing when we have cancer, but most of us experience gratitude. We’re thankful that the anti-nausea medicine works. We are grateful that our blood counts have recovered. We’re beyond grateful when our tumor shrinks enough so that we qualify for “potentially curative surgery.” We’re grateful for our caregiver.

I try to stay positive.

Staying positive seems to go hand-in-hand with gratitude. There are always two sides to any story. Is our glass half-full or half-empty? It’s the same glass with the same amount of water. The only difference is how we view the experience. Staying positive is beneficial because we’re more prone to remain calm and not allow fear and anxiety take over our life.

I choose to be happy.

Amazingly, people can choose to be happy in the most challenging situations. It’s about living a good life, regardless of our current circumstances. Choosing happiness incorporates gratitude and positivity. When we concentrate on our strengths, we can be happy even through a year of treatments. Many of us face a year or more of treatments — a year is long time to live in misery and woefulness. Our body and our immune system function better if we let go of “why me?” and accept “why not me?”

I see the beauty in each day.

Life exists on earth because of water. Embrace the beauty of storm clouds. Like the farmer, be grateful for the rain that falls. Appreciate the changes of the seasons because all four have their place in life. 

Rainy Days And Mondays

I avoid negative people.

Avoid negative people —their negativity drags you down to their level. During our treatment, we need encouragement and support, and this can only come from people who have a positive outlook. Let Mr. or Ms. Grumpy spread their negativity in someone else’s yard.

I stay busy.

An idle mind is the Devil’s workshop. When we stay busy, our mind is less likely to sink into depths of depression. Staying active doesn’t have to mean physical activity; we can read or keep busy with our favorite hobby. Knitting, wood carving or watercolors are better ways to keep our brains engaged in positive actions.

I honor those who came before me.

While I was having chemo, I researched the drugs in my chemo cocktail. Had I been diagnosed ten years before, two critical parts of my treatment would not have yet been available. I thought of the brave cancer patients who participated in the clinical trials that allowed these drugs to come on the market. All of us benefit from those who came before us — it is a humbling experience to honor them in our personal life.

I laugh every day.

The health benefits of laughter are astonishing. Laughter lowers blood pressure and reduces stress hormones. It boosts T-cells to help fight infections. And most of all, laughter enhances our sense of well-being. My husband managed to help me laugh every day with some silly story or wisecrack.

I fake it til I make it.

Simply described, “fake it til you make it” means to imitate a positive outlook until you can pull all of the elements together. In other words, having faith and belief helps create a successful outcome. We may not feel “great” every moment of every day, but we can act like we do until better times come.

I still have fun even though fighting cancer is serious business.

Fundamentally, we, as a person, haven’t changed with our diagnosis — we happen to have experienced a severe health adversity in our life. Keep doing your favorite things as long as you feel able to do them. As our patient leader, Greg Pierce, reminds us, “Don’t live your cancer, live your life.”

I took up a new hobby.

Surviving cancer is only part of our story. Learning to live fully again once treatment is completed takes courage and perseverance. Fear of recurrence weighs heavily on many of us. Nothing raises our spirits more than beginning a hobby that we’ve always dreamed of trying. 

Idle Minds

I realize that things could be worse.

Even in what may seem to be our worse moments, we can usually realize that things could be worse. For example, I was Stage IV at diagnosis. That news was shocking, but as I learned about other patients who were Stage IV, I realized that many of my cohorts had worse situations than me.

The Bottom Line

Making the best of our situation will produce the most favorable outcome for our family and us. We can’t change our diagnosis. We can adjust our thinking by using these simple thoughts as part of our daily life.

Related Articles

Staying Positive And Keeping The Fear of Recurrence Out of Mind

30 Ways to Stay Positive When You Have Cancer

Living Your Best Life

Creating a Survivorship Plan For Life After Cancer

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