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This week I'd like to talk about happiness. I am talking about the kind of happiness that brings you pure joy and a feeling of contentment.
Feelings of happiness can depend on many things. First, we need to feel safe and secure and have our physical needs met. After this, we can focus on our emotions and feelings. Happiness and joy arrive when we feel a sense of love, purpose and belonging.
As a cancer survivor, stress and anxiety can sneak up on you and put a damper on your level of happiness. You may have good days and bad days as you physically and emotionally deal with treatment, side effects, recovery and anxiety about your future.
Sometimes the anxiety and worry about cancer takes over your thoughts — this is normal. However, instead of hanging on to the negative thoughts, try this. Every day set aside 10-15 minutes, you might call it your worry time, and focus on your main concerns. Write your worries down in a journal or talk about them with someone else. Recognize them as things you can't control and then move on to more positive thoughts. This puts anxiety in its place and still allows you time to get the negative thoughts out of your mind.
The goal is to have more positive, happy days instead of days filled with sadness and negative emotions. Here are a few ideas to help guide you:
Everyone has moments of uncertainty, this makes us human. However, finding your own sense of happiness can make a liberating difference. What is happiness to you?
Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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Theresa, I think that your feelings are quite normal after having the stress of a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment. Time becomes so precious and dear to you. When you are ready for a new relationship, you will know it and have the sense that it is the right time. Listen to your heart on this one and take all of the time you need to be in the right place to share your heart and emotions with someone again.
hello, I had breast cancer. Went through the chemo and radiation and I am o.k. for now. I am having a hard time dating and being in a relationship. I have this overwhelming feeling of people Not wasting any of my precious time in life! im sooo worried about someone breaking my heart and the relationship not working out and in the end wasting my time in my life. I just want to know if its normal? I know the chemo had made me enter menopause early, so i dont know if its a normal feeling or if its my overacting emotions i have now? please answer..thanks!
How do you reach the unreachable? Good advice does seem to have a way of appearing simplistic and unattainable when you are in the throes of distress. I feel bad for Joo, not only for the diagnosis but for the seeming lack of acceptance and gratitude that there are a few more years of life. There is at least time to make plans that are denied many times to those who die suddenly. There are no guarantees how long any of us will live. Therefore, why so much anger? Negative energy will not help your situation. My experience has been that taking things in small steps helps rather than looking at the overall picture which may be too overwhelming. Karen’s reply was spot on. Focus on what you can do. You may think this too is a “well intentioned load of crap” from someone who has not experienced your diagnosis. I have, however, experienced a diagnosis of Stage IV Lymphoma and been through chemotherapy five times in the last six years. I hope you will find a way to make peace with your situation.
Tell how to have a moment of happiness when you sit and wait for a liver donor, while your liver has now been diagnosed w/cancer which moved the recipient up to first or second place and you have already been away from home leaving a young daughter in someone else's care because of having to reside in an area where there is a better chance of getting a liver...and there is no one, neither family nor friend who can give you respite or relief..& meanwhile praying the cancer stays just in the liver.
For me I looked at my choice. No to treatment and I would die. Have treatment and live or die. I choice treatment .... someday I will die. I stopped feeling guilty about opened a new world of humor and fun replacing a world of What If. Have 2 types of cancer and being watched for another but life has never been better while dealing with the problems and not be denial.
I appreciate all of the perspectives on this topic...finding joy and happiness in the midst of a diagnosis of cancer is not easy. I also understand the anger and emotions that must be felt and expressed. If we can find and connect with our core values and the things that mean the most to us, that is what's important during this time. For Joo and others it's family and children that are the focus of strength to keep fighting, be a source of love and bring purpose. Reconnecting with your sense of spirituality can also be a source of strength to help you reflect on personal meaning and purpose in life.
....and I just thought, what makes me happy? Sounds kind of funny, but right now, eating yummy things makes me happy! Yes, my cardiologist says to take off a few pounds (I have damage from adriamyacin), and I have, but I enjoy good food. My reasoning is that I know how crappy it was when I was on chemo, I "forced" myself to eat, but could care less. I plan on enjoying the "activity" (within limits, of course!) of eating while it is pleasureable. There will probably be a cancer reoccurence in my future, so I will not deny myself the pleasure of some treats while I can enjoy them.
Wow, after reading these comments, I can see there are a lot of people out there that haven't figured out how to "live thru" a cancer diagnosis. I don't claim to have any answers,especially being devasted as a 2 time breast cancer survivor, only a few years ago to be diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer (The doctor told me with chemo he could stretch out my "cancer free" time, but I was not curable.)I can only "live" sanely with the help of anti-depresseants and anti-anxiety drugs. To those of you that are against using any type of drugs, I say just think of all that POISON chemo that has fought against your cancer. This therapy allows me to have more time to enjoy what life I have, and LESS woe is me time. Hey, whatever works.....
Prayer brings me through this life's crushes. My hope, help and happiness go beyond this life to eternity with God.
my heart goes out to JOO , an honest realist..but prayers brought me through darkness..I offer mine to him.
I think that having epilepsy for all my life (74 years so far) taught me what you have said so well. When I was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer in 2009 and Tuberous Sclerosis (benign cancer) on the Brain; I had learned to value each day to the best of my abilities and change topics or games, etc. when the going got harder. Today it's still "one day at a time, enjoy it as best you can and try to live within your means."
I don't know if the author has had cancer or not, nor do I care. She's spot on in her advice. Is it easy to follow? No. But well worth the effort to try. I'm almost three years past treatment for my third cancer. Each time there have been dire prognoses, and each time I've disciplined myself to focus on what really matters and tried to avoid the "poor me" stuff. The best thing that's happened is that I've learned to (most of the time) look outside myself and tried to emphasize the life lessons I can model for my kids and their kids. Erma Bombeck wrote a lovely piece near the end of her life about the choices she'd made that gave me inspiration.
This author never had cancer. You can't pick 15 minutes of a day for worry. Worry comes at all times of day. I had cancer, then a miss diagnosis of multiple masses and given 4-6 weeks to live This was 17 months ago. My oncologist said the Er. doctor had no right to diagnose cancer from a ct. scan. I was cancer free. I should be fine right ? Wrong. I have nightmares, anxiety, panic attacks. I was told by a family member who is a doctor that I have PTSD. I can't remember words to form a sentence, called a pink flower yellow, realized it was pink, but couldn't say the word. Before cancer I was working part time, took care of my family and had no medical problems at all. My world came crashing down and I can't seem to get it back.
This author meant well, but this advise won't work for me.
This is good advice for those who are "surviving". For those like Joo with only a short life expectancy, I would like to say no one can make the pain of the loss of the future you thought you had go away. Focus on things you can do and don't worry about things out of your control. Material things will work out. Your children will find a way to attend college. Since you are a professional, ask your co-workers to set up a fund to provide for your children's future. For yourself, look for clinical trials. I recently read a story about a woman with lung cancer that fought for treatment and is still alive years after her diagnosis. Seek comfort from your spiritual resources. God bless.
Was just wondering if you guys have done any study as far as what marijuana would do for cancer patients????
While well intentioned this is a load of crap.
The author has clearly never had Stage III or IV lung cancer diagnosis where the 5 year survival rate is well below 10%. At one moment you go from an engaged middle aged professional with kids in school or college - and then thrown into the extremely unlikely prospect of getting an additional few years in life. The issues are devastatingly serious (e.g. how will I provide for my family, what about my kids in college, etc.) and cant be managed away by thinking only dark thoughts 15 mins/day and then being "Que sera, sera" the rest of the time. Imbecilic.
It is a dark and heavy shroud that descends down and cant be lifted by any mind tricks.
Mindfulness is mindlessness.
The author clearly hasnt lived the true case but has "read about it". And dont tell me about breast cancer or prostate cancer survivors - their 5 year survival rate is >85% so there is no comparison so they dont count.
A stage IIIb lung cancer patient.
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