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One of the common emotions or feelings that survivors experience is a real sense of uncertainty and loss when faced with a diagnosis of cancer.
Cancer changes people in ways that aren't always visible. In a way, your life has been interrupted by cancer, which may leave you with a feeling a loss of control or that your story is incomplete.
Many of you search for a sense of meaning or purpose behind your diagnosis. As you search for meaning in your experience, the process can help you deal with the stress and feelings of uncertainty and fear.
As you complete the intense experience of diagnosis and treatment, finding meaning in survivorship can help you live in the moment. You may gain a new sense of appreciation for living and a strong need to understand what greater purpose you may have to complete.
Everyone deals with these emotions differently. Finding joy and gratitude during this time isn't always easy, but set your intentions on giving it a try. Focus on the things that are good in your life. Ask yourself — Who am I? Why am I here? As you look for new meaning in your life, you may want to consider of few of these ideas:
You may find that in the process of searching for meaning, you identify areas in your life that you'd like to change. Make a plan for how you'll do this. Remember to focus and channel your energy on those things that bring personal happiness and joy.
An excellent resource on this topic is a book titled "Train Your Brain ... Engage Your Heart ... Transform Your Life," by Amit Sood, M.D. Dr. Sood is the Director of Research and Practice — Complementary and Integrative Medicine at Mayo Clinic.
Have you searched for meaning after your cancer diagnosis? Write about your experience on the blog. Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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i was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 2 in april 2011. from may-november i did chemo weekly then every two weeks. i had lumpectomy in november and december-february 2012 radiation everyday. thank God i am cancer free. I am unemployed and the heavy duty work i once did i can no longer do. My family and friends help me out a lot. God is indeed good. I am in school because i have to find a new trade. I read and meditate alot. I am so grateful for each day. I take long walks, I try not to worry but it gets hard sometimes because im starting over at the age of 46. When i feel down i count my blessings and realize that the race is not given to the swift but those who endures until the end.
I am receiving my first radiation treatment today and I have been feeling overwhelmed. I am losing my car keys,house keys, my concentration is poor today, I just can't get it together. I completed chemo therapy THC two weeks ago and now radiation for the next six weeks. I am nervous about it possible side effects, the unknown, the wanting to get my life back on track. I am Unemployed and have been denied most services due to the treatment may not last a year, so in the meantime how do you stay stress free? The good news is I am considered early detection but I had a mastectomy and received chemo and now radiation and the treatment doesn't stop until next year. In limbo.
I love the care and supportive words that are flowing on this discussion. You are all so inspiring to me too! For L.J. who is just completing treatment – your expression “Then what?” is a common emotion. You may feel a bit lost after your close connection to the health care system as you have gone through your treatment, soon you will be finished and on your own for a while. The emotions and anxiety about the future are normal at this point. I would suggest that you look for ways to connect with other survivors – through this blog, a local support group, or other ways to connect with others (ideas might include…community groups, exercise classes- such as gentle yoga or stretching or spiritual organizations). Reconnect with friends and family that you would like to see now that you have more time, and don’t be afraid to celebrate the end of your treatment – it can be a wonderful release!
I look forward to receiving your newsletter and it helps to read about other people's experiences. I was diagnosed with lymphoma non hodgkin three years ago. It certainly changed my outlook on life. I've always been a positive and smiling person but now, even more so. After discovering that I might have to have more therapy when it all seemed to be clear, I am so annoyed that I shall fight even harder. Family, friends, interests, doctors and my cat are essential. Sorry if this has been so long!
Like Catherine, I've learned to say "no" and not sweat the small stuff, Things we hear all the time but often have difficulty doing. I embrace each and every day, look for the good in others, and try to add happiness to the world in general. I am so thankful for each and every day!
Though I haven't yet figured out the meaning of my life, I know I am grateful for the chance to seek it. Had I not had to abruptly get off the treadmill I was on, I might never had taken the time to search for that larger purpose.
Finding meaning and purpose in my cancer has, for me, brought beauty out of ashes. I have found rich reward in serving others with my type of cancer by providing information and encouragement. I have also found it through my faith. The spiritual component is often neglected in cancer support, and those most basic questions – who am I, why am I here? – are not addressed. Therein lies hope for this life and the next.
I am a two year survivor of breast cancer. The diagnosis of this disease and the subsequent treatments caused me to reflect upon and change my everyday life. I spend time doing things I enjoy doing instead of stressing over the mundane things of everyday life. I have a wonderful network of friends and I strive to do something nice for at least one person every day. I have also learned to say "No" if there is something someone wants me to do. I used to think I had to say I would serve on every committee, go to all the showers (baby and bridal), make something to eat for every activity or party (I am sure you get the picture). Now I am selective and share my talents wisely. I am diligent about self breast checks (always have been); but I leave the worry about whether or not the cancer will resurface to my very capable and much loved doctors. Embrace every day with gusto and the desire to live life to the fullest. That is my advise to the sweet person in "the small town". Best of everything to you.
I am your reader from India. I have completed post graduation from school of social work. Your each and every article helps me in my counselling session. Your authors are very selective and they handle all psycho-social aspects of patients.
Thank you for such a informative articles.
Thank-you for such gentle insights. Finding meaning is a process for the patient as well as caregivers. Creative outlets, as we're ready, can be a great source of renewal. And sometimes, when I've been the most overwhelmed, some other caring person may touch me with their creativity...and that can make all the difference.
The creative process has very much been important to me. I write prose and poetry. I also wrote a children's story that helped me reframe my own experience. I had never even written in a journal before getting sick. Writing creatively was a wonderful surprise to me. To be able to describe my feelings through the use of metaphor was so helpful.
The other thing that has helped me has been to help others. Getting outside of myself kept me from curling up in the foetal position I think. There were not a lot of things I could do when I was very sick, but every little thing I did for someone else helped me.
I have 3 radiation treatments to go. Then what? Am I cancer free? I live in a small town, and need some support. Thanks for this article.
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