Empowerment

“Every day is a gift. Open It with Joy”

This is a lovely affirmation from a Ford Warriors In Pink bookmark and it is a wonderful reminder in which to start off each day. I actually use it as part of a morning prayer of thanks. I recognize, however, that it is harder to “open it with joy” when you are facing diagnosis, surgery, chemo, or radiation as part of your day. Cancer is often referred to as a journey because there are phases (both physical and emotional) that must be “traveled” through. There are no short cuts along the way. Each phase holds its own challenges and trauma. Often when all the treatment is completed, the life beyond cancer becomes a time of fear and uncertainty. Your medical support and testing is not as frequent. My oncologist referred to it as “your security blanket is gone” when I completed my last treatment and mentioned my new trepidation. Will the cancer recur? That’s the big question in our minds. Although the fear may never go away completely, fear of recurrence should diminish over time (unless something triggers our fear, such as a friend or relative being diagnosed with cancer or we begin experiencing a pain previously associated with cancer). I have found that the fear does diminish and using coping strategies such as exercise, massage, meditation, calming self-statements/affirmations, prayer, and yoga are all helpful in accomplishing this goal.

InCure’s 7th Annual Cancer Guide they have added an additional suggestion: creating a “WORRY LIST.”

Make a list of worries and include specific examples. Many worries look different when written out, and may seem less problematic. Even the simple task of expressing specific concerns may release some of their power.

Write down every recollection of worries that actually materialized in some concrete way. Scan the notes and find the number of times a “false alarm” outnumbered the times a worry became reality.

Every day at about the same time, revisit the list, carefully noting how, since the day before, nothing actually happened. Allow a specific amount of time for this activity and cut down the time allowed for “worry list” review each week until it is diminished to one minute each day.

Seek out someone who is dealing with cancer and share this approach with them. Showing others that worry is a drain on energy may lift the spirits of other survivors, as well.

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Resources

While in my oncologist’s office waiting for my six month exam, I noticed a magazine that I hadn’t seen before. The magazine is Cure’s 7th Annual Cancer Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. It provided a page of useful resources that I would like to share. I am going to add them to my resource area, but for those who follow this blog, you may not always check the resource area for additional information.

Fertile Hope 855.220.7777, fertilehope.org: a division of LIVESTRONG, this organization educates cancer patients about fertility issues.

LIVESTRONGFoundation 855.220.7777, livestrong.org: Helps people with cancer through education, public health and research (I have the educational binder, it is very informative).

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine 888.644.6226, nccam.nih.gov: Provides the latest news, research, events and clinical trials involving complementary medicine.

Planet Cancer 855.220.7777, planetcancer.org: A division of LIVESTRONG, this online community is geared toward young adults with cancer.

Cancer and Careers, cancerandcareers.org: Provides a workbook, educational resources and support for cancer patients about working through treatment and returning to work.

CAREGIVING

Family Caregiver Alliance 800.445.8106, caregiver.org: Offers information and advice, a navigator to help find local resources and services, and discussion groups.

Family Caregiving 101, familycaregiving101.org: Provides caregivers with the basic tools, skills, and information they need to protect their own physical and mental health while they care for a loved one.

CLINICAL TRIALS

ClinicalTrials.gov 888.346.3656, ClinicalTrials.gov; Offers information for locating federally and privately supported clinical trials for a wide range of diseases and conditions, including cancer.

Coalition of Cancer Cooperative Groups 877.227.8451, CancerTrialsHelp.org: Contains a search engine to find cancer clinical trials close to home, a comprehensive self-study guide, patient discussion forum and helpful information for patients and caregivers.

FINANCES AND INSURANCE

NeedyMeds, needymeds.org: Offers information on patient-assistance programs for patients who can’t afford their medications.

Partnership for Prescription Assistance 888.477.2669, pparx.org: Help qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get the medicines they need for free or at low cost.

LEGAL ISSUES

Cancer Legal Resource Center 866.843.2572 disabilityrightslegalcenter.org: Provides free information and resources on cancer-related legal issues to cancer survivors, caregivers, healthcare professionals, employers and others coping with cancer.

Patient Advocate Foundation 800.532.5274. patientadvocate.org: Provides education, legal counseling and referrals to survivors concerning managed care, insurance, financial issues, job discrimination and debt crisis matters.

Travel and Housing

Air Charity Network 877.621.7177, aircharitynetwork.org: Provides transportation to patients traveling for treatment.

American Cancer Society Hope Lodge 800.227.2345, cancer.org/hopelodge: More than 30 lodges throughout the U. S. offer free housing to patients and their families traveling for treatment.

For a complete list of resources, visit curetoday.com/toolbox

Moving Forward

The First Step Toward Getting Somewhere Is To
Decide That You Are Not Going To Stay Where You Are”

(author unknown)

This quote holds so much power and truth. Wherever you are in your cancer journey: just diagnosed, in treatment, the “ever after,” you know that you want to move forward toward a goal. Some of that moving forward will be focused on the physical (especially during treatment) and as you progress the focus becomes on the body, mind, and the spirit. If you have been reading my blog, you know how much I depend on stress and “fear” relief. I have been relatively successful in both (this of course, is an ongoing process) through yoga, massage, meditation, and prayer. I had to decide that I didn’t want to stay where I was “in my head.” I had to acknowledge my fear of recurrence, let go of the hypervigilance and anxiety, and begin to change my own thought patterns to bring peace into my heart and my life. Meditation is an extremely effective method of opening yourself to changing negative thoughts into positive thoughts. The concentration on breathing that centers you as you begin your meditation helps the body to relax and prepares the mind to focus on whatever positive thought patterns that you wish to achieve.

I want to enrich and deepen my meditation practice. I have begun a 21-Day Meditation Challengeby Deepak Chopra/The Chopra Center called Creating Abundance. It is a 4 disc CD set. The first week the goal is to learn the unlimited potential of “true abundance:” i.e. limitless love, optimum health; learn the infinite source from which it springs and how consciousness and the mind affect its flow.
The second week the goal is to learn how Abundance relates to the seven spiritual laws of success beginning with the law of pure potentiality.
The third week the goal is the understanding and the incorporation of the practical aspects of Abundance through living in abundance and “Synchrodestiny” by harnessing the power of intention and meaningful coincidence, consciously manifesting our destiny.

I light an aromatherapy candle and give myself over to Deepak Chopra’s soothing voice as he instructs and guides me into meditation. The music is soothing and healing as I meditate on the thought/mantra of the day. Each day’s meditation takes about 15 to 20 minutes.

When I have completed this 21 day meditation challenge, I want to experience Deepak’s meditation CD on Healing. If any of you have already experienced either of these meditation CD’s, please share how they have affected your mind/spiritual growth. When I have completed the “challenge,” I will share the results of my deepening meditation practice.