A New Way of Thinking for the New Year

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
–Winston Churchill

Each New Year brings new opportunities to change and improve how we choose to live our lives.

Aside from the standard resolutions many of us make (and often break) such as “I’m going to eat better, exercise more, quit smoking, etc.” what’s helped me is to focus more on changing the way I think and cope when dealing with what life has thrown at me, as in my case, dealing with cancer.

For 2017, I plan on not letting negative thoughts and fears overtake me. I’m not going to let myself worry more than I have to.

Something I’ve found myself grappling with over the past few years is the fear of recurrence. This started after a loved one completed treatment and received news that the cancer was in remission. Initially, this gave me strong feelings of relief and gratitude.

However, not long after the good news arrived, feelings of anxiety and fear started to creep in. I kept constantly thinking to myself “what if it comes back” and “what if they didn’t find it all”. I eventually started to dreadfully anticipate hearing the words “the cancer is back”, even though everything was going great.

In a lot of ways, this fear negated the positivity and hope I worked to achieve throughout the treatment process.

So basically this New Year, I’m going to let go of my fears of the things that haven’t happened yet.

Life isn’t predictable and doesn’t come with any guarantees. I’m a firm believer of rolling with the punches, and when a real challenge arrives, that’s when I’ll fight back.

I’m going to keep reminding myself that fear really doesn’t help in the fight against cancer. Instead, I’ll let my strength guide me and get me through it. I’d rather focus on what I still have, versus thinking about what may be lost.

This year I also plan to connect with other survivors of cancer. Hopefully I can do this with this blog. If you would like to share your own experiences, thoughts or have questions, I encourage you to leave a comment or send me a message.

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.