You are absolutely correct. Nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and relaxation are cornerstones for a healthy lifestyle. These need to be practiced on a regular basis rather than the hit-and-miss style. Beyond these concrete steps, there are many strategies of the heart, mind and spirit. Cancer survivorship is about quality of life and enjoying the fullness of our lives. No matter where one may be on the cancer journey, we need to nurture ourselves on all levels. Here are a few:
-Who is important to me? Am I spending quality time with those people? Often, we become overwhelmed by medical treatments and the challenges of daily living. It may be traffic, finances, earning a living, getting the kids to take a bath or a visit from the mother-in-law. As we look back at our lives, we want to remember the wonderful experiences with others and not whether someone took out the garbage. Today, think of the cherished people in your life and how you want to enjoy them. Do they know that you cherish them? Create new family rituals and customs.
-What changes have happened within me since I began this cancer journey? People talk about priorities shifting; values becoming more defined and a deeper appreciation for people and events. Many find that they don’t sweat the small stuff like they did before cancer. These changes may be referred to as spiritual, religious, metaphysical, etc. No matter the name for the changes, people talk about becoming different than prior to cancer. Have you looked at this? Have you talked to others about it?
-What is your passion? What makes you feel good, creative, special and confident? Too often, we put off the things that are important because we are cleaning house or running errands. Can you stop and find time to enjoy something that you love? It may be skydiving, planting a garden or learning to rhumba. It may be volunteering for a cause or giving time to those in need. It may be a hobby, learning a new skill or many more exciting challenges.
-How do I play? When was the last time that I laughed out loud? When was the last time that I was silly? It may be a knock-knock joke, dressing up for Halloween, line dancing, coaching ping pong or playing a hard game of Monopoly. Life is about loosening up, enjoying ourselves and going with the flow. Find the fun people who like to enjoy life with you. What makes you want to shout? What makes you want to sing?
-Talk frankly with the medical team and don’t go home wondering about something that you did not bring up. The medical team works for you. Take a list of questions with you and ask every one of them.
-Take charge of your life! It is the only one that you get. You are so much more than cancer.