Quality CareFind out why Mayo Clinic is the right place for your health care. Make an appointment.
Meet the StaffFind a directory of doctors and departments at all Mayo Clinic campuses. Visit now.
Research and Clinical TrialsSee how Mayo Clinic research and clinical trials advance the science of medicine and improve patient care. Explore now.
Visit Our SchoolsEducators at Mayo Clinic train tomorrow’s leaders to deliver compassionate, high-value, safe patient care. Choose a degree.
Professional ServicesExplore Mayo Clinic’s many resources and see jobs available for medical professionals. Get updates.
Give to Mayo ClinicHelp set a new world standard in care for people everywhere. Give now.
Mayo Clinic offers appointments in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota and at Mayo Clinic Health System locations.
Subscribe to Housecall
Our general interest e-newsletter keeps you up to date on a wide variety of health topics.
Subscribe to our Living With Cancer e-newsletter to stay up to date on cancer topics.
This week I'd like to explore the idea of finding strength in comfort (or security) objects. Just like children who love their soft blankets or stuffed animals to sleep well at night, we as adults also find comfort and security in familiar items that have importance to us. It might help inspire you, guide you, and calm you during times of celebration as well as challenging and traumatic times.
As a cancer survivor you may have an item that you use for strength or celebration during your life experiences. It might be symbolic or it might be a real item that you enjoy having close to you. Maybe it's a personal item such as a picture or something really comforting like a handmade quilt, a soft pillow or favorite item of clothing.
My comfort objects are stones. I collect and carry around little rocks and stones from my travels and experiences. One of my favorite stones is a polished agate with beautiful layers and colors that was given to me years ago by my grandfather. I love to look at the beauty of the stone and think of the years and layers that created it. Sometimes I put it in my pocket or pack it with me when I'm away from home or know that I need extra courage or strength to get through.
I would love to hear if you have used comfort objects during your life. What has helped you? Why did it help you?
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
Follow on Twitter:
Selecting "Submit" signifies that you have read and agree to our posting guidelines.
Triple Negative Breast Cancer was Brutal! Having me feeling doubled in age. Like I was Toutured and left to die afterwards!! My oldest daughter and husband took me to my Chemo & appts. Since my cars weren't safe! I couldn't Afford Emend & many tests & meds. Since one year prior my husband lost his job & insurance. Here we are now still jobless & Zero income! I got Treats Being Driven past the New Dodge Challengers!! I'd Dream I'd own one if I live!! I'm a Dodge Girl!! Jim I envy you!! Driving a Challenger has to be Healing! I've yet to even have a ride in one! My Cat also was my Best medicine since I couldn't afford the pills and all. My cat would make the "Throw up sounds" for me! Lay on the bathroom floor or whereever else I'd lay being ill! My 13 Cats were my Best medicine! That & Love! My husband turned into a great Caregiver!! We never had our honeymoon, vacation or weekend away.. But will make it to 33 Years of Marriage! We've beewn together since we met one Christmas Eve when he was 18 & I was 16! Still togehter living on Love & a Prayer!! Keith Urban & Don Williams Music cheered me! How I'd Love to meet those singers & Thank them. Nothing got easier. Pain is so Brutal but I'm here to live to love another day. I believe in You! Hoping for Quality of Life after Cancer & NO recurrence! Hoping for some income too. I need to feel useful even with these Disabling side effects. Wishing for Healing for all! We need Sp
October 26,2012 8:24 p.m.
I have had Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma since 1978;in
2006 I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease, too. During the years of many treatments and surgeries, my faith in God has blessed me and
seen me through it all. Also my friends and family. Music, meditation,a great caring dog
that knew when I was sick, and knowing that we
had the greatest, hard-working doctors through
the years. My husband has been there for me during the good times and bad times. I feel forever grateful and blessed. You are all in my thoughts and prayers. God's Peace and Love. (note: The Hodgkins Disease has been in remission for over 5 yrs., but NHL was found
again last April.)78 yrs. old. -Edna
I have had two bouts of breast cancer, 1972, 82, and i am now 78 Years young, we have two little, lovable dogs, one is 4 the other 2, they are such a comfort to me, when they are so loving of course they love to be petted, they have given me so much love and comfort. they are miniature pinchers, and they are from the same mother and father and the greatest comfort is scripture and the Lord has blessed me so much, with so many Christian sisters in Christ. What an amazing Heavenly Father we have. Thank you for thse articles, they are so helpful and hopeful.
My comfort object is a pink teddy bear, holding a pink heart that reads: "I Love You" that my 29 year-old daughter gave me during one of her visits to my home. This bear is especially special to me because my daughter took such pains to come visit me while I was recovering at home from one of my chemo treatments. Without transportation and on a particularly cold day, she just showed up and I cried with joy to see you. She then proceeded to go to the corner store, and returned with this bear. She stayed for hours, and we talked and talked. Not a big present, it didn't cost a lot of money, but she bought me a gift of love from her heart, and that did, and still does, bring tears of love to my eyes, and a strong sense of connection to life!! Let's all FIGHT LIKE GIRLS...
After I had my double mastectomies and reconstructive surgeries, my comfort object was (and still is) a handmade denim and flannel quilt. The quilt was made by Mom, sister, and Aunt for my wedding. The quilt was originally meant for camping as it is heavy and warm. It brought such comfort. It felt like a warm hug. Sometimes that was the only comfort I had through the pain and discouragement.
My comfort item was a blanket my daughter bought for me the day of my surgery. Its a green/sage blanket, one of those very soft ones. I have had it with me ever since. My surgery was Jan 19th 2011. Breast Cancer is a difficult thing to deal with as a woman, we take pride in our bodies and they are forever altered after Breast Cancer surgery, you are never the same. I am dealing with my boughts of depression but I only have my tattoos left to get then I am complete... I also find comfort in pink things, boy before this I was not a pink person..LOL I guess once you have BC you will wear pink as a badge, you have earned the right to wear it to show your support. I am finding comfort in reading all of these posts, it feels so good to listen to others and to be able to write my stuff and have others listen.. "FIGHT LIKE A GIRL"
As far as inanimate objects go, I carry an angel in my pocket that is enclosed in acryllic. A friend gave it to me when I started chemo. I still carry it two years later. It reminds me of God's presence. I also have a beautiful quilt that another friend made for me. She spent several hours working on it. As you can see my inanimate objects are tied to people who support and care for me. I have several more. In addition I have two loyal dogs who stay by my side and comfort me regularly. One is sitting on my lap right now. As a person with an incurable cancer I can only say that I am thankful for the loyal friends and buddies in my life.
"Living With Cancer" is such a mixed bag of emotions for all of us. I am marking my 10th canciversary doing all the blood work and scans again for the "n"th x10th time. My bag is certainly being mixed up, shaken and stirred a lot. Thank you, nurse Ness, Mayo and others that recognize the need of survivors to connect with others, to express things in ways we might not be able to anywhere else. Coming back to read other posts and reread my own, I believe "knowledge is power" , hope is powerful and for some, faith is so much more than knowledge or hope. So, what happened last night when my positive attitude and practice of gratitude sunk like a shipwreck in a hurricane, after reading a message from my doctor, confirming what I already know, but don't want to hear-I have low grade cancer-I am not cured-using a new test I've read about, won't provide helpful information. Duh! Was I hoping a new test would say, hey, those other tests were wrong? Pretty much. So much for hope in knowledge. Where's my inner strength, can I find it in faith?
When I read Beth's post stating her mind, body and emotions are tapped out and there are conflicts over her decisions to stop all that would help...I empathize. I get it. I want others to allow me my decisions, too. In my brain, I go through all the resources in my library and see the book "Cancer As A Turning Point" and I am reminded how it helped me learn the difference between being cured and bein
i was told 10/19/2011 i have stage 4 colon cancer. that day was surgury day i was to have all my colon out but only part of it cause once inside they notice it had spread. i start chemo soon have to let surgury heal first anyway this post and others post makes me feel so much better
I look to find anything that would be a promise in my Bible, and put a "P" by the text to read over again and again.
I had a love affair with anything that said 'Life Is Good'. I had the hats, t-shirts, etc. every time I saw those words it inspired me. As hard as it was, it was all good.
My comfort during the past 4 yrs of my cancer fight was provided by Fantasy/SciFi novels that take me to other worlds and Cont. Jazz music. When the music is on and the book in my hand, I am no longer in this world, but others where magic and sickness, long lives reign.
I was provided a prayer bracelet by a co-worker's mother several days before my surgery three months ago for uterine cancer. I have taken it off only during the day of my surgery and continue to appreciate significant comfort from it. My plan is to continue to wear it and anticipate that I will "gift" it to someone in the future.
During my treatment for breast cancer, I had several "comfort" objects. One was a prayer quilt given to me by my church. Every knot on the quilt represented a prayer said on my behalf. The quilt kept by body warm during chemo, but more important, it reminded me of all the people prqying for me. Another was a small photo book of my five bequtiful grqnd-dqughters. The third one was a small King James bible that my daughter had given me to take to chemo.
With epilepsy over 72 years and islet cell cancer of the pancreas the last 3 years, the item that I use most often is music. Classical music without words seems to let me relax more
during times of anxiety about my conditions.
I've been living with cancer for 4 years. 1 year ago I bought a 1010 Dodge Challenger. I can be in a very crappy moood. If I take a little cruise. I don't have to drive fast, or drive the car very hard. But my mind is on driving the car. The real difference I notice is when I get home, and get out of the car. I don't feel tired, or lazy. Usually with a smile on my face.
I have been living with a cancer that's incurable for 10 yrs. Now! I am a younger cancer pt,and my body,mind and emotions are all tapped out! I go to the best Dr. In USA for what I have, but now there are more tumors in abdomen and chest I want to stop everything,but due to my age and family there is a conflict! I'm glad some. People find inner strength through different avenues,but let's be real it NEVER leaves your mind and It AFFECTS your WHOLE LIFE! DEATH and GRIEF and LOSS never leave your physce. So for me it's people allowing me to make the decision to stop,all that would help
During my 6 mths of chemotherapy treatment after surgery for colon cancer, I took a picture of my 2 nieces & nephew to sit right next to my chair during the 90 minutes while my chemo drugs dripped into my arm. Sarah, Heather & Donny gave me the strength I needed to face any & all side effects because I was bound and determined I would see all 3 graduate from high school and college. That was in 1993, and Donny (the youngest) has just 2 more years of college, and I'll have met my goal.
I am age 69, and have a quilt my grandmother made for me when I was about 8 years old. It is tattered and worn out, but I'll never throw it away. When I need comfort, I curl up on the bed for a little quality time with "Mamaw's quilt" and I suddenly feel lots better. Love never dies, and every little stitch of thread in that quilt was done with lots of love for me.
Rocks! My comfort objects are small rocks I collect on my travel adventures. A great children's book I used to read on outdoor education trips with students; "Everyone Needs A Rock" is a delightful read for anyone that finds comfort in rocks. I especially have an affinity for rocks that are heart shaped. I like to stack rocks around my house like miniature carins-which are landmarks or memorials-reminding me of pathyways I've taken in my life.
I have had two pewter hippos for over 25 years, purchased shortly before my diagnosis. My husband and I bought one for each other. They are small but very heavy. I feel that they nurture me and symbolize the strength that my husband and I have in fighting any adversity, particularly my cancer.
I enjoyed reading comments from others. Warm thoughts to you all.
These comments were comforting -I love the idea of the puzzle and birds were a huge part of my comfort; I took a walk everyday for an hour after each radiation treatment and enjoyed the birds and flowers; God brought me a red cardinal each day of my treatment. Then i haven't seen them for awhile and a week ago 2 days before my 6 month check up He brought me His calling card to remind me He is here and will always be with me -right across my path as my husband and I were walking towards a huge YOU ARE BEAUTIUL sign at Morton Arboretum! I had a 2nd grader's painting of a Koi Fish on my wall all thru treatment -buying the painting helped support the tsunami survivors in Japan and Koi Fish symbolize "strength in adversity" -the Japanese people were an inspiration to me in that. Koi fish can even swim upstream and up small waterfalls :)
Oh yea, I almost forgot. Wearing my "Cancer and kiss my a-s) sweatshirt gave me strength and courage to continue moving forward! (Sorry if that offends anyone)
I cling to the symbolism of hummingbirds. While I haven taken to collecting decorative toy hummingbirds, it is the concept of the birds that I call to mind when I need comfort. Every summer we hang fuschias on the front porch in the hope of attracting hummingbirds. So far, I have had at least a brief reward each year. In fact it started the summer after I was diagnosed. My elder daughter brought me a fuschia for Mother's Day. The fuschia attracted the first hummingbird to our home since my daughter was a 2-week old infant. Hummingbirds appear so fragile, so small, yet they are remarkably powerful.
My comfort objects through my treatment for breast cancer (since April of this year) have been owls and anything pink (sneakers, shirts, hats, blankets, pens...)
Owls symbolize many things - wisdom, secrets, and protection. Protection is the one I focus on. Owls can see in the dark, and I translate that all the owls I've collected help me see through this, the darkest time of my life, and as well as protect me through all the treatments and side effects.
Pink - there is POWER in pink. The NFL wears pink for an entire month! Pink is the "new" black. From the softest of pinks, to the most vibrant shades of hot pink - it's a color I've always loved, but it's grown to have a lot more meaning, and it encourages me to be outgoing with my story and make more people aware of breast cancer. It's helps the fight, and colors it in comforting color.
During chemo, every afternoon I would sit in the recliner, cover up and take a nap. My dog, Clyde would climb up on my lap and nap with me. He knew I was sick and this was his way of protecting me.
Now, I take comfort in the warm sun on my face, the beauty around me and time spent with family and friends. Being here and being alive. I try to not take anything for granted.
I love to do jigsaw puzzles and I have framed several of them. One that I really like is the miracles that Jesus performed. I have it on the wall by my bed. It has really been a comfort to me during some of the worst times of my chemo treatments. I imagined the Spirit of God moving down my body with healing powers.
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Proceeds from website advertising help support our mission. Mayo Clinic does not endorse non-Mayo products and services.
Check out these best-sellers and special offers on books and newsletters from Mayo Clinic.
A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. "Mayo," "Mayo Clinic," "MayoClinic.org," "Mayo Clinic Healthy Living," and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.