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5 Tips for Coping with Cancer

October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is a blend of emotions for me. I'm inching closer to the age my mother was when she faced her first cancer diagnosis and navigating motherhood without her guidance. My mom was the heart of our family, displaying unconditional love and fierce determination. For me, this month is a celebration of life, appreciating its beauty and the little joys it brings. Yet, it's also a reminder of life's fragility, emphasizing the delicate balance we all walk.

In honor of my mother and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I'm sharing valuable insights on coping with cancer. By the end of this blog you'll discover 5 tips to help you manage the anxieties and uncertainties that cancer brings, regardless of where you are with the disease.

tips for coping with cancer

Dealing with cancer encompasses medical, emotional, and spiritual challenges. Coping tools can help you confront the challenges and preserve your quality of life.

5 Tips for Coping with Cancer

Tip #1 Take Time to Reflect on How You Are Coping

Receiving a cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly overwhelming. Take time for self-reflection. Ask yourself how you are coping.

Some people ask the difficult questions right away, research their condition, and dive deep into understanding the seriousness of their situation and potential treatment options. This approach helps you mentally adjust to your circumstances.

Some people find the reality too daunting. Denial, despite its challenges, often plays a positive role. It might seem like avoidance, but this is a coping mechanism too. It shields you from feeling completely overwhelmed, providing a buffer against the truth. It allows you to gradually come to terms with your illness, taking it one step at a time.

Understand that both of these reactions are common and It's not a binary but rather a spectrum that can vary from day to day. Take a moment to reflect on how you are coping. Inquire within, "How am I managing today, in this moment?".

Tip#2 Keep Growing

Cancer presents a unique opportunity for growth. You may go through a process of reassessing your values and priorities to discover what truly matters to you. This experience doesn't imply that cancer is a deserved punishment or a necessary lesson. Instead, it's about recognizing the unexpected positive changes that can emerge despite illness. This perspective might mean treasuring moments with loved ones, championing causes close to your heart, or simply appreciating what you have. It could also involve embracing hidden aspects of your personality while striving for greater honesty and authenticity.

Tip#3 Maintain Hope

When faced with the uncertainties of cancer, sustaining hope can be challenging. Hope isn't about denying the seriousness of your situation. It's about acknowledging the potential outcomes while staying grounded in reality. Moments of happiness and joy can shine through unexpectedly. Here are a few ways to maintain hope...

  • Setting Short-Term Goals: These goals can be as unique as you are – attending a family event, finishing a creative project, or witnessing a simple joy. Small accomplishments can bring immense happiness and peace reminding you of the beauty in everyday moments.

  • Expect Obstacles: Understand that setbacks are a part of cancer. It's natural to feel defeated at times. Lean on your short-term goals and your social support during these difficult times.

  • Celebrate Every Victory and Milestone: Every achievement, no matter how small, deserves celebration. Mark your successes. Celebrating not only uplifts your spirits but also strengthens your hope.

  • Try Something New: Engage in new activities. Whether it's flying a kite, watching a sunrise, or doing something adventurous like driving a sports car, these experiences bring joy.

  • Find Joy in Simple Things: Sometimes happiness lies in the most straightforward moments. Gazing at the sky or witnessing the sunrise can bring immediate calm. It's these joys that remind us we are alive.

Tip#4 Express Your Emotions When the Time is Right

Cancer brings with it overwhelming emotions. You get to choose when you express those emotions. In the whirlwind of diagnosis and initial treatments your focus might understandably be on the practical aspects of your illness. Emotions can take a back seat. It's okay to put them on hold temporarily allowing yourself the space and time to deal with the immediate challenges.

When the time is right, find the right people to talk to. These might be friends who are good listeners, family members you trust, or professionals who specialize in helping cancer patients. Share when you feel comfortable and supported. It's common for many of us to struggle with putting our emotions into words. Yet, sharing your thoughts, feelings, and concerns provides a way to process your experiences and an opportunity to receive much-needed support.

Tip#5 Find Peace with Mortality

Cancer can feel like a relentless battle between life and the fear of death. Surprisingly (or not so much), very little support is offered to those wrestling with the idea of death — accepting it, finding peace with it, and not viewing it as a personal failure. Our instinct to survive clashes with the acceptance of our own mortality. The idea of losing life and everything it encompasses is almost unbearable for most people.

I'm not suggesting giving up or surrendering to death. Acceptance means acknowledging it and moving forward with living. Confronting your mortality might provide the peace and understanding you're searching for, helping you establish a deeper connection with life amidst the uncertainty of death.


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