Staying Strong Mentally After Cancer: ‘It’s a Balancing Act’

Maintaining the correct headspace has been a top priority throughout my life, especially since I had bone cancer.

Although stress and anxiety seem to be constant companions, I do my best to maintain positivity by focusing instead on what I call “gaining my health” each day. This means eating as clean and healthy food as possible, taking all my vitamins and supplements, and using an infrared sauna to detox—checking any box that might strengthen my immune system and help me feel more in control.

I also meditate and each morning I start writing the morning pages to clear my thoughts and work on problems. Doing so allows me to stay high on priority, and time seems to slow down on the pages as I juggle thoughts from a more relaxed space.

Since I’m at home on medical/disability leave, it’s easy to feel isolated but I’ve found that getting out of the house helps take away this advantage. Something about the fresh air, the feeling of the sun on my skin, seeing people on the streets – it all softens being in a cramped apartment. Having a dog helps me too because she gets me out of my head while I focus on taking care of her and taking her out on walks.

And of course, it’s important to schedule enough time with friends, family, or anyone in your life who offers positivity, love, and support. Sometimes they remind me of everything I’ve overcome when I’m feeling down on myself and that keeps things in a healthy perspective for me.

This year, I developed a love for storytelling and was writing my first draft of the novel. It was done for my soul – just having something to dive into distracts from hardships and fills me with joy. I could also call myself a writer and build a new future that doesn’t revolve exclusively around the identity of a cancer fighter.

At the same time, I have to pay attention whenever I push myself too hard. For example, I have arthritis, especially during the colder months, and so when my thighs start working, I’ll be off duty on the couch for a while, alternating between ice packs and heating pads. The limitations can be frustrating, but I’ve learned to keep them in mind as I just come into the area and remind myself that it could be so much worse.

I find this all works out well. And at least for me, when these major areas of my life are nurtured – that’s when I tend to think more optimistically and do my best.

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