Self-Care During Chemo

Going through chemo? Have a loved one who is going through it? We all know that you have to take care of yourself big time when you’re dealing with this kind of treatment, but sometimes it feels overwhelming to know where to start. You are already dealing with keeping track of a thousand things at one moment, let alone thinking about self-care. But it’s THAT important! 

Here are a few tips to help you take self-care seriously without losing your mind:

  1. Say “no.” This isn’t the time to be over-committing or saying yes to a ton of things. This is a season of life where you need to be selfish with your commitments and be really careful about what you spend your time and energy on. Saying “no” is an okay thing during this season of life. People will understand!
  2. Stay active. Stay as active as you can, based on how you’re feeling, but staying active, stretching, walking or other light exercise is going to help keep your body flowing well. Not only that, but staying active is going to be great for your mind as you walk through chemo. We’re not saying run a marathon here, or even break a sweat. But, if you can manage to move around, keep that blood flowing!
  3. Know your limits. Be mindful of what your limits are and don’t overdo it. Take time to rest and gear up. You are in a battle, so it’s important to consider how valuable rest time for this battle!
  4. Be smart with food. Think about filling your body with food that will fuel you. If you’re feeling sick, this is going to be even more important because any food you consume will need to be as fueling as possible. Focus on whole foods and avoid sugars and processed foods as much as possible. 
  5. Focus on the goal. Your days may vary in terms of how you feel, how your body reacts, and where your mind is focused. Work hard to look ahead. This current chemo treatment is not what life is all about. It’s part of the battle, but you have a big goal you’re fighting for. Focus on that!

Chemotherapy can be draining, some days more than others. It’s important to remember that you need to take care of yourself first so that you can fight this cancer battle with everything you’ve got. This is a season to be a little selfish, or self-focused. Whether you’re fighting cancer, or not, most of us could benefit from hearing a reminder for self care today. The better we are, the better we can fight cancer, and love others well too!

Face Your Fears. Know Your Enemy.

Fear is a sneaky thing that shows up at our doorstep when we least expect it. Fear can paralyze us from doing the things we really need to do – the things we MUST do. We don’t often think of fear as a good thing, but when we shift our thinking around fear, we can not only face it, but conquer it. I saw this firsthand during multiple cancer battles from close family members, but I see it every day of my life. Small fears, big fears…they’re all real fears we must deal with.

Here are a few things that help:

  1. Name it.  When you can name your fear and recognize it, you gain a certain level of power over it. It’s still scary and hard, but it’s known. Like the name of my book, “Know Your Enemy,” once you know what you’re up against, you can approach it better.
  2. Look Big Picture. So much of our fear is based on the immediate feeling or emotion, but facing something hard and scary may have long-term benefits that we can’t see right now. Yes, it may be hard in the moment, but the benefits far outweigh the fear. When we shift our perspective to view the bigger picture, we can face that hard circumstance just a little easier. 
  3. Find your people. If you’re up against something really scary and hard (like cancer), go find your people. Don’t go at this scary thing alone. You don’t have to. And, it’s a whole lot easier when you have people by your side helping you face that fear.
  4. Educate yourself. Fear has this way of making us think we have to do it all by ourselves and that we can’t seek out help. But, the more educated and armed we are, the smarter we will be at fighting a hard battle. Find those experts who can help you fight your cancer battle. Find those people who can help with day-to-day things. Read those books and educate yourself so that you truly know how to fight your enemy. Knowledge is power and this power helps you fight your fears with confidence.  
  5. Share your story.  Friends, there is power in sharing your story. Facing hard times and fearful situations are not in vain. Your story and struggle has purpose and you can help encourage others who are going through a similar struggle simply by sharing your story. 

We often don’t get to choose when we deal with our fears, but the more I’m ready to face them, the better I get when they creep on up. We have the power to face hard things. YOU have the power to face hard things. May we face one more fear today than we did yesterday!

Coping with Grief During the Holidays

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
–Vicki Harrison

The holiday season is often viewed as a wonderful time of the year, filled with much joy and happiness.  It is generally marked with people reflecting on their year and celebrating with family and friends.  However, when faced with the recent loss of a loved one, the holidays can be very challenging and stressful.  My experience has been no different.

The first holiday on your own is often, but not always the toughest to get through. For me, it brought me face-to-face with the cold and stark reality that my life had changed and would never be the same. I felt a deep sadness and emotional void from this tremendous personal loss but I never looked back or lost a sense of hope for the future.

Well, here are a few tips that helped me handle the holidays with a brave face.

First off, it is ok to acknowledge your sadness over the loss of a loved one with family and friends. Just try not to let this dominate your conversations with others. In my case, I tried to focus on the joy and happiness others were experiencing as a distraction and mood changer.

Next, some of us find comfort in being alone, while others enjoy the social interaction with friends and family. For me, I found both comfort and strength from participating in the family activities of my friends. They made me feel welcome and included in the holidays.  We are all different and the important part is to let the healing process take its natural course.

I also needed to give myself some time to rest, as this process can be physically and mentally exhausting. During gatherings with family and  friends, I would find myself feeling overwhelmed and unprepared for connections. Over time, I learned that it was ok for me to take some time to care for myself. But, like everything during this period, it’s been a process.

Adjusting some of my holiday traditions has also proved to be helpful. In time, I would even create some new ones. Instead of asking myself “How will I get through this”, over time my mantra became “I will get through this.”

Writing has always been a helpful activity for me, and has allowed me to clarify my feelings and ideas. I hope that sharing this helps you find your own way to cope with loss and grief you may be experiencing this holiday.