As you recognize from all the pink ribbons around, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. Yet soon the month will be over and done – just as breast cancer can be diagnosed and treated. Between 2 and 3 million American women today have survived this health challenge and are living cancer-free. But thriving after any serious illness is complicated and sometimes feels like an uphill struggle.
Today’s coping tips can help you support yourself – emotionally and physically – along the difficult course of dealing with breast cancer and its treatments. As women move through this process, many find that staying informed and involved at each step gives them a sense of power and resiliency. The National Cancer Institute, a part of NIH, has a wide range of materials to make this job easier. Here are some more tips from us to help you take charge of your life.
Take good care of yourself. Pamper yourself – you deserve it! Follow the guidelines of the American Cancer Society and set aside time for you. Begin an exercise program that includes aerobics, flexibility and strengthening exercises. Enjoy eating a more healthful diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Schedule relaxation time to decrease the stresses in your life. Learn visualization techniques. Think about what you really like to do and do it. Of course this is easier to say than it may be to do, but stick with your decision to make time for yourself. You can make it happen.
Redirect yourself toward active goal setting. When a serious illness strikes, you may feel like your life is completely out of control. To regain a sense of direction, reflect on what priorities are important to you and then set a goal within your reach. Identify your strengths and build on them as you plan how to achieve your objectives. Journaling may be helpful as you consider strategies and options. Initiate your plan in small steps and review your progress regularly.
Make something positive come out of the situation. Women who are able to find some positive meaning in such a negative situation often experience growth as well as a greater sense of control and feelings of confidence and optimism. Think about how you can use the unique perspective you have gained to make the rest of your life richer and more meaningful. Nancy G. Brinker supported her sister Susan in her unsuccessful fight against breast cancer and later founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It has become the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists and the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to winning the fight Susan ultimately lost.
Take credit for the challenge you have faced and the changes you are making. Recognize and accept that you have faced many difficulties in your process of healing. Give yourself credit for the hard work you have completed to get to this point in your recovery. You have learned about yourself and made changes in the way you think, feel, act and react to yourself, others and the situation around you.
You can read one woman’s story about her experiences with breast cancer on our website in an early newsletter. Feel free to browse around and read other archived newsletters that interest you. Then sign up to receive your own copy of our free monthly newsletter in its new format, Stepping Stones, emailed directly to you. When you do, you’ll receive a complimentary copy of our ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned.