When I think of Cancer, I think of survival. I’m not talking survival rates. No one wants to hear about that. I’m talking about pure daily survival. The everyday waking up and doing life tasks. I’ve learned that there is not a single thing that helps me through the daily monotony of living with Cancer. It’s more of a concoction; a little bit of this, a dab of that. As a stage four cancer patient, I take the little wins of life and hold onto them tight.
There are a few things to consider when talking about coping with cancer. That is what we are talking about: coping mechanisms. I enjoy getting lost in a book every now and again. I dabble with healing crystals and find comfort in them. They help me focus on other emotions I have going on, other than just the constant stress and sadness that Cancer brings upon me. Living close to Lake Michigan has also brought me calmness in my life with Cancer. I enjoy collecting sea glass and rocks and listening to the waves while feeling the sand in between my toes.
From childhood to adulthood I’ve always had a garden. There is something about planting a seed and watching it fully emerge into something that can nourish our bodies; that feeds my soul. Gardens can come with some work. I have found weeding to be very therapeutic and it fulfills my senses. The way the root feels being pulled from the earth’s surface somehow feels so satisfying to me. The most rewarding part of having a garden is eating the food that you have grown. There’s a lot of pride that resonates with gardening. There is nothing quite like a freshly picked orange cherry tomato that is still warm to the touch from the sun’s loving rays.
I also find joy in being creative with my five-year-old daughter. We’ve explored tie dying, bracelet making, rock painting, making dream catchers, and whatever else catches our attention. I also enjoy coloring. Sometimes I suggest we do our color challenges. Color challenges are when you both color the same picture, with the same amount of crayons. Here’s the catch: when choosing your colors you must keep your eyes shut. My daughter almost always cheats. But it gives us quality time together and it benefits me by getting my mind on something other than dying.
I’ve made it a priority to spend time with friends. I might be dying, but I am still very much alive! Still having a social life is much more important than anyone thinks. And isn’t this what it’s all about? Making the most of the time we have here. I am so lucky that I have so many people in my life who go out of their way to spend extra time with me. I’m truly blessed to be so loved.
In terms of coping with having Cancer, I also feel there has to be an outlet of some sort. For myself, I use social media as my outlet. I talk about what bothers me and the realness of having Cancer. I think that it helps me tremendously. Some may not feel comfortable telling the whole world their feelings or stories, and that’s okay. Write out your feelings on paper even if you don’t plan on sharing it with anyone, talk to a friend, talk to a therapist, make sure to get your feelings out in some way.
One of the most important coping mechanisms; treat yourself. Any opportunity I get, I treat myself. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. A simple iced coffee or ice cream, just for making it out of bed. Don’t get me wrong I do spoil myself with pedicures, a new outfit, or a special meal but let’s be real, I deserve it. Let’s face it: we all do! So basically, I do what helps me get through each day. If it isn’t harming myself or others, why not?
I like to say if you don’t treat yourself good; no one else will. If you hold your standard of care high, others will follow your lead. Keep your mind busy and your head held high.