I’m coming to the end of my treatment which has given me such a mental and physical boost.With the end in sight I am beginning to look forward to getting back to ‘normal’, back to life as it was before this interruption.
A few weeks ago I went to an inspirational talk about the radiotherapy process held by staff from Lincoln County Hospital’s Radiotherapy and Occupational Health Departments. ‘Enhanced Recovery through Radiotherapy’ not only talked about practicalities but also how to cope with recovering from treatment and managing emotions after a cancer diagnosis. Two discussion points resonated with me. The first was the idea of ‘self-management’ and understanding why it is important to look after yourself. This doesn’t just mean being healthy, eating well and exercising. It also advocates finding out about your condition so that you have the confidence and skills to deal with any treatment and remission. Having self-compassion, being kind to yourself, is a major theme of self-management and being proactive rather than reactive during treatment and recovery.
Secondly, I was reminded how important it is to deal with our emotions to improve our wellbeing, particularly FEAR. A diagnosis of cancer stimulates fear and from my experience, rightly so. From the time of my diagnosis and throughout my treatment there have been many moments of fear. When fear sets in I start to look for an answer, I become irrational, panic and anxiety arises and that increases the fear. And then it all starts again. Recognising how to deal with your emotions is incredibly powerful for your own self management and being kind to yourself.
Based on Stephen R Covey (1989) 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I was given the diagram below and it certainly is food for thought! How much time have I spent worrying about things that I can’t do anything about rather than finding a way through the problem? Choosing to think differently and to do things differently can give opportunities to take control of our emotions.
THE FRIED EGG APPROACH
The impact of this past year, conversations and my experiences along the way have made me reflect on how I want my life to be and I definitely don’t want to get back to my pre-cancer normal. Looking at how I conducted my life on a daily basis before cancer is something I want to change. It’s time now to prioritise ME a little more than before. So I am going to make some tweaks to achieve this
- Exercise at least five times a week
- Eat healthier – cut out processed food, less refined sugar (except for my daily treat of a Costa decaf vanilla latte with soya milk!!)
- See friends and family more
- Create even more memories
- Look forward
- Take risks
- Work my way through stressful situations so that the stress evaporates
- Face and deal with my emotions
I see each day as a pie with the individual slices being something I will achieve that day. For example – dark load of washing, supermarket shop, gym, cook the tea, phone Mum. I then prioritise these and order them depending on when I will do them during the day. There is a balance to the day – jobs, family and friends, me and work (when I go back).So far this is working for me and I end the day feeling successful and better about myself. The down side of this approach is that factors occur during the day that I can’t foresee but I know I have to be flexible and leave a slice of pie until tomorrow, being careful it is not always a piece about me.
This is my new ‘normal’ and the start of a new me… and up to now I am really enjoying life!