16 February 2014

Now What? {Coping Skills: Part 3}

In case you missed the beginning of this series, you can find Part 1 {here} and Part 2 {here

Ok, your treatment is over. Congratulations! You're awesome-- but we already knew that.

For me, this was the beginning of what in a lot of ways was the hard part. For the first time in over a year; I was doing nothing. No shots. No drugs. Just waiting and praying until the next scans. 

It's tough! 

How do you function in your new reality? How can you not be overcome with worry and anxiety? Will anyone ever understand? I can't just pretend cancer didn't happen... Everyone thinks I'm fine now, but it doesn't feel that way.

This portion of the series with probably be the most dynamic and revisited as time goes on and I get better at this whole "thing."

Here we go:

1. get to know yourself : Yes, you are absolutely the same "you" as before, but you're different now in many ways. You're perspective on things has changed. Maybe your patiences has changed. Are you missing body parts that were there before? New scars? Physical affects of your treatment? Your sense of humor? Your temper? Your values? I don't know. Take the time to notice these changes. They are important and valuable.

2. slow down : Your peers, friends, co-workers and family may expect you to get right back at it. It may feel as though life was on "pause" and you're just supposed to hit "play" and move on. You do not have to expect that from yourself. Your world has been rocked! You may want/need different things now; take your time easing back into things. This ties in with number one... Manage your own expectations!

3. continue your follow up care : It may be tempting to skip appointments after a while. You're tired of worrying or maybe you just don't want to go there again. Do what your doctor says!
You didn't do all that work for nothing.

4. keep talking : Yep. That person I suggested in Part 1 & Part 2...keep them around. [I still see a counselor.]

5. be reasonable : It's easy to get caught up in obsessing about cancer and not ever having it again. Your runny nose probably isn't because you have cancer. The cut on your leg that appeared after you shaved...probably not cancer. The 3pm headache you got after skipping your morning coffee also probably isn't cancer. I'm not laughing at you. These are real thoughts. Just do your best to try and keep them in check. I find that saying them out loud to someone helps me to realize that I'm not being reasonable. (of course, you can always just call your doctor and have them tell you themselves)

That's about all I've got for you so far...

I've mentioned this before, but I want to be honest with you and say I still struggle with anxiety.

It's hard to be cancer free. The emotional and psychological roller coaster that happened after cancer has been my greatest struggle...

But look; I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter and I'm still here :)

ATTENTION CAREGIVERS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS: Please do not tell your survivor that you're sure "everything's fine." Our reality is that it might not be...it wasn't once before. Maybe tell us "we'll deal with whatever together" or something along those lines instead. :)

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