Staying Positive Through the Cancer Journey
People ask me all the time, how I stayed positive through all three of my cancer journeys, Well, I will say, it wasn’t always easy. I had my share of “Pity Parties.” But, I also tried to get away from them as quickly as I could. We all experience challenges and situations that can take our breath away, and not in a positive way. It’s learning how to cope that makes them seem less tragic.
I wanted to share with you three of my best techniques for living life’s challenges and coming out on the other side:
First – Humor: Don’t be afraid to laugh. Watch funny movies, read funny books. Be around people who make you laugh. Sometimes we may think that if we laugh we are not taking our situation seriously. That is exactly right. There is enough seriousness in the situation itself. If we can laugh, at least for a time, we get at least a little of our power back.
Second – Find Joy by doing something YOU want to do: When I went through my first breast cancer battle in 1996, it was difficult at times for my friends to understand why I wanted to stay in school. People said I should stay home and “rest.” I knew what that meant for me. I would stay home, in my pajamas and watch mindless television for hours on end, while dwelling on my cancer. That didn’t work for me. For some reason, it brought me joy to do something that was on my bucket list. By focusing on school, I was able to complete 45 credits during my first five months of treatment through the Prior Learning Program at Marylhurst University. Ultimitately, it did take me seven years to graduate, which made me glad my five year survival prognosis was wrong. But, I now have my degree in Communications, and I am proud of that. This leads me to my final point…
Finally – Keep your eye on the prize by thinking outside your current situation: By staying in school during my treatment, I had to focus on something other than my cancer. I focused on writing essays, lots of them. My prize was getting a degree. But another side of keeping my eye on the prize, for me, was knowing that God had a plan for my life, and while I didn’t understand it at the time, there was even a reason for my cancer. I eventually was able to leave my full-time “crazy-making” job so I could do what I love. I am able to spend my time speaking and running my non-profit, Breast Friends.