One of the biggest lessons learned going through the cancer healing journey was the value of taking time for myself. Life moves on too fast sometimes, and before you know it, every minute is jammed. This is life in North America. A sad commentary on our lifestyle.
However, when cancer is diagnosed, there is motivation to rethink how one lives life. Suddenly what appears so important before cancer becomes insignificant. It is then time to re-evaluate. Questions pop up. What am I doing? Where am I going? Who is with me on this journey?
This requires quiet time – time to just be still and hear your own thoughts. For me, walk time became a space in time just for me. Meditation helped quiet my mind which had become a rabbit warren of worrying thoughts vying for space. Music transported me to magical places. Reading books for cancer patients, especially by survivors to learn how they coped with cancer.
In time, calm, peace and energy returned in a more manageable manner.
I wanted to share a book with you that has made a significant difference to my life. And in sharing it with others, they have also noted positive changes in their lives. This book is The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell.
My main reason for making the change was to eliminate a nagging stomach problem that seemed to be escaping diagnosis by scoping and probing. Nothing showed up, but I knew I had a problem. Once I switched to this way of eating, the stomach issue cleared up and only returns if I slide off the suggested protocols.
It was a bit tricky at first to change the way I thought about food, especially what I would eat for a main meal. The rest I had pretty much figured out. I am purposely not sharing all the details because I really want you to read the book and decide for yourself whether it makes sense to you.
Other benefits, besides a happy stomach, are a return to my ideal weight, improved vision, more energy, less bloating, and an overall sense of well-being. Now that I have been eating this way for a bit, I really have come to enjoy the foods. It has become an adventure – a healthy adventure.
So, I invite you to check it out for yourself. Love to hear your thoughts and/or changes if you do decide to follow this path.
Once the initial shock of getting a cancer diagnosis has faded, finding ways to help oneself through the next phase starts. One of these ways, a very well researched option, is diet and nutrition. It is said that ‘we are what we eat’. In this day of fast food and hurried meals, far away from the made-from-scratch meals our mothers provided, this is quite alarmingly true.
Rethinking what you eat and how it does or does not nourish your body takes some research. Most would agree that getting rid of junk food, highly sugared foods, and wasted calories is a good start. Combined with exercise – exercise as simple as a half hour walk – can make a huge impact on your body’s ability to heal.
There are many nutrition/diet books for cancer patients available. One of the ones I read recently is The China Study by Dr. T. Colin Campbell. The information has made a huge impact on me – even 20 years after my original cancer diagnosis. There were pieces of the puzzle learned prior that finally all came together. Hence, I am following his guidelines and noticing greatly improved health. Worth a read.
Do some research and find what makes a difference for you. We are all unique and what works for one does not necessarily work for another.
Sometimes you are just not near to give someone you know going through cancer a great big hug. How do you let them know that you care and are there to support them during this time? Here are some ideas for inspirational gifts for cancer patients – ones to help you give from a distance – or even up close when time is the issue.
1. Send a card with an inspirational message and a personal note from you. Your friend or family member will feel the love and know that you thinking about them.
2. Email an inspirational poem you read or a story of a cancer survivor that will inspire hope.
3. Send a Tote Bag with an inspirational poem on the front – a constant visual of encouragement – something they can take to doctor/hospital/treatment appointments.
4. Buy a book – there is a wide choice of books for cancer patients that will both inspire, educate, encourage, etc.
5. Mail a Stainless Steel Water Bottle – with words of encouragement on it, funny sayings to add humour, a poem, bright and shiny. Many options. Cancer patients always carry water bottles as they need to hydrate.
6. Consider a framed inspirational poem that shares a message of understanding, hope and courage. Something they can hang on the wall whether at home or in the hospital.
These are just a few ideas – I’ll share more in another post. As a former cancer patient and one who now works with cancer patients, I hear what makes a difference.
At first, a cancer diagnosis renders you stunned. Normal reaction. Eventually the information sinks in at about the same time you end up in a round of doctors appointments and treatments. Life takes on a new schedule, one not of your own making.
One of the best ways to help yourself during this process – the cancer journey – is to be informed. There are many excellent books, DVD’s, etc. about cancer, the newest research, survivor stories, cancer nutrition, etc. on the market to guide you.
Being informed will help you feel more in control, give you insight into the right questions to ask of health providers, point the way to how you can help yourself, and provide inspiration from those who have travelled before you.
Not all of us have a support group or cancer center close by. However, most of us have access to a book store, library or the internet where books for cancer patients are available, also DVD’s and Kindle-type ebooks. There are even online discussion groups where you can ask members for their opinions, encouragement, etc.
If you are too fatigued or not feeling well enough to do the research yourself, a friend or family member may be more than happy to help you. They often don’t know what to do, feel helpless – this will give them a way to connect and support you. You may also choose book CD’s which you can listen to while resting or travelling.
A cancer diagnosis involves much more than the surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. At first, this is where the focus is centered as you enter the activity whirl of doctors, hospitals, treatments, and medical appointments. What goes on inside – the psychological and emotional turmoil – is not seen by others. That doesn’t mean these ‘feelings’ are less important. In fact, they are not – they are very important.
However, sometimes it is hard to understand what it all means. Thoughts rabbit around in your head. Emotions bubble up at odd times. Sleep becomes elusive when darkness comes. It is nighttime that often the mind turns on.
One way to unravel and start to see patterns of thought is to write them in a journal. In the writing, thoughts and emotions spill onto the page taking up less space inside of you. On the page, the subconscious will speak allowing new insights and perspective. This will give you an opportunity to quietly heal the sore spots, identify areas you may wish to explore, and allow a sense of calm to reside within you. Journalling is a private way of coping with cancer.
There are many wonderful choices of journals – some are inspirational with messages to help guide your thoughts, others have unruled pages allowing for not only words, but also images, drawing – creativity. Some are leatherbound, others simple notebooks.
If you are a family member or friend of someone who has cancer and have wondered what to get them, journals make wonderful inspirational gifts for cancer patients. Team a journal with a beautiful pen and you will give a cancer patient something special.
Most people when diagnosed with cancer are inspired by stories of cancer survivors. They want to know that it is possible to survive cancer and gain insight into how these survivors managed their cancer. Was it what they did, how they thought, their support – what? People want to know.
There are many great inspirational resources and books coping with cancer where survivors have shared their journey. Their stories are different because each of us is unique and no one solution fits everyone. The lesson to learn is the thought process behind their healing. In truth, it is a journey to your soul, to who you really are, and how you can trigger and empower your own body to heal. It is more about healing your life than healing your cancer. Either way, the effort and courage it takes to embark on this journey is well worth starting.
Lymphedema is still largely unknown or understood as a side effect of cancer. Yet, lymphedema happens to many people when they undergo cancer surgery and treatment.
Lymphedema, once diagnosed, is a chronic condition and can be a lasting reminder of cancer. It is something that people then have to manage which is not always easy.
There are several books for cancer patients that will help you understand lymphedema. If you are scheduled for cancer surgery, treatment, etc., I would advise you to become aware of the possibility of lymphedema. There are several practical tips that will help you reduce the risk of lymphedema.
Once aware, you can take steps to be proactive.
As a New Year starts, it is always a great time to take stock of the past year. I like to pause between Christmas and New Years- take time to slow down, appreciate family and friends, express gratitude for life and health, and refresh my mind. This is one of the lessons I’ve learned from my cancer journey. Living life on the 24/7 treadmill is not healthy. Slowing down and learning to savour life instead of running through life is not only less stressful, but infinitely more fulfilling and definitely more healthy.
So I challenge each of you in the year ahead to have a good look at your lifestyle, especially if you have cancer or have had cancer. Certainly getting cancer makes a person re-evaluate life. I know I certainly did and still do.
There are a few books on the subject of slowing down. They aren’t always listed under books for cancer patients, but the wisdom in them sure applies. Definitely well worth a read.
a) Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from the Inside Out,
b) In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed and
c) Time Shifting: A Revolutionary New Approach to Creating More Time for Your Life
May you find health, purpose, fulfillment and love moving forward into 2011 and beyond.
Now that the rush and bustle of Christmas is over for 2010, maybe there is time in your life now to slow down and be aware of what is important. In our North American culture, this idea of slowing down so we can actually hear ourselves is completely foreign. Yet this aspect of living is so important.
Life is way too short to spend it running from goal to goal, not even aware of the journey in between. This is actually where real living takes place. This is where we grow as individuals. We learn new skills, gain insights, meet new people, find out about ourselves.
Having a life threatening illness, such as cancer, for sure puts you in this mode. Books coping with cancer often deal with lifestyle issues – this reassessing of life’s priorities. They cover stories by other cancer patients, benefits of meditation, nutrition, exercise and much more. In our busy lives, we often don’t pay much attention to these issues.
It would be a better world if more people were aware of how fragile life is, how much we need to take it slower – before we get the two by four learning – a life threatening illness or event.