Sunday 2nd June is National Cancer Survivors Day and it’s sad to say that most of you reading this will have been touched by this disease in some way.
Maybe you’ve had your own battle. Maybe you’re still on that journey. Maybe, you’ve supported and cared for loved ones who have battled cancer. Maybe they are still on that journey and you are still loving and supporting them.
Did you know, more people than ever are surviving cancer and according to MacMillan Research and the Office For National Statistics, those numbers are projected to increase by approximately one million per decade.
This means by 2030 over 4 million people will be picking up the pieces and rebuilding their lives after cancer treatment.
So what does life after cancer look like?
There is a belief that after the medical team step away we are all left jumping for joy, lost in love and gratitude and eager to get back to normal.
Sadly, the reality can be very different. You’re desperate to feel like your old self again, only that person no longer exists – how could you be the same person after everything you’ve gone through?
The reality is, you feel lost and alone, overwhelmed and angry. You’re at your lowest ebb both physically and emotionally and you have no idea how to pick yourself back up again… and through all this, you’re having to smile and reassure your loved ones that yes, you’re as happy and excited as they are…
If this is you, I want you to know this time shall pass. I want to reassure you that with three simple strategies you can come back to life with more love, kindness, compassion and adventure than you’ve ever known.
So where do you start?
Well, you need to be a little strategic here and take some time thinking about what you eat, what you think and what you do.
The first thing you must do is rebuild your strength and resilience and the easiest way to do that is to take all the chemicals out of your diet and start eating fresh wholesome food. Go back to basics; plenty of water, a variety of coloured veggies and a healthy portion of protein and good fats. Do your research on what you need to heal your gut and start to build your immune system. There are some great books out there that can help you. In particular I found the book Anti Cancer, A New Way Of Life by Dr David Servan-Schreiber to be a great resource.
The second strategy is the brainchild of Julia Cameron, an acclaimed author, producer and director who realised if we spend 20 minutes writing 3x A4 pages every morning, as close to waking as possible, you give yourself the opportunity to discover the incredible person you’ve become because of your battle with cancer. You’ll start to uncover what you like, what you don’t like, what you want more of… you’ll write about sadness or regrets, hopes and dreams. This stream of unconscious writing will allow you to start exploring this new and powerful person you are today. The other side to this exercise is to quieten the monkey mind chatter, giving yourself some peace that will allow you to relax, to stress less, to gain some clarity on who you are today and to uncover what you need to be happy, confident and healthy.
The third strategy is all about what you do. For you to thrive after cancer self care is crucial and you must begin to understand what it is you need to get to that baseline, of feeling OK. Now to be clear, a need is something that, if you don’t have it met, you feel miserable, out of sorts, agitated… a need could be spending time in nature, meditation, out with friends, gentle exercise, a massage or reflexology… A need is something purely for you to replenish your energy. Right now, you’re probably struggling to get through the day because you’re exhausted. When you start to prioritise yourself, and getting your needs met, you start to become more giving to others. If you want to be the best mother, father, sister, brother, wife, husband or partner, the best colleague, or boss – then you have to be the best version of yourself. When you’re replenished this is easy. If you think about it like a bottle of expensive red wine. Delicious, full bodied elixir. BUT, when the bottle is empty all thats left is the bitter sediment. Never allow yourself to become completely empty. Make time to work out what you need to keep you at that baseline of OK and, make time just for you to fulfil those needs on a regular basis.
After your battle with cancer, it’s crucial to know you’re not alone with these powerful and overwhelming thoughts and feelings. This is my personal journey and I understand how you feel and you don’t have to do this alone.
If you’ve been through cancer and you’re looking for an understanding and supportive community, then join my closed empowerment group where I share strategies, inspiration and motivation that will support you as you redefine who you are today and start to live the life you survived for.