STAYING SANE THROUGH CANCER
Updated: May 20
This week has been hectic and I’ve had a few meltdown moments. Next week I'm going in for a 6+ hour operation to evict the cancer that has nestled its way into my neck next to a main artery and around a nerve. FFS.
Below is a list of a few of my go-to things to help me stay calm and make me feel sane. They help about 95% of the time. The other 5% I’m a red-hot mess and nothing seems to help but a good cry.
Big long walks
For me, these are the best. If I start to feel anxious or teary I know I need to get out of the house and find some nature. It is my jam.
I know this sounds silly, but when you’re next feeling a bit wimpy and anxious, try snapping into a strong power pose. Hands on hips, head up, shoulders back. Think superwoman. You will instantly feel more powerful. And if you don’t believe me, watch this TED talk by Amy Cuddy.
When I was diagnosed with the sarcoma I was fucking terrified and pretty convinced that this was the end. However after the doctor explained what was going on and their plan I realised I could do this. I had done it twice before. I’m young, strong and am not ready to keel over and die. I kept repeating in my head ‘my body can handle this’ because I knew it could. What is your mantra? What do you have complete trust in?
This stuff helps you sleep. I've had very few restless nights awake stressing about this whole cancer palaver because of this clever little plant. I will forever be grateful to my GP for this.
I honestly believe that your body can do so much healing all by itself if you create the right environment. When you’re asleep or in a deep state of meditation your body has the chance to heal itself. Download the Headspace or Calm app or check out YouTube. And don’t give up when you suck or hate it the first time. It’s hard to shut off the mind and also you might not gel with the guide's voice, so shop around until you find one that works for you.
My brother made me a playlist of all these songs that mean a lot to me. Such a lovely idea to make for a friend going through a tough time, but alternatively, if you know you’re about to go through a shocker then prepare one for yourself. There’s nothing worse than desperately trying to remember song names when you’re in a shitty mood or feel sick. I have one to make me feel happy and one to chill me out. Different music for different times.
Western medicine is not so touchy feely. Through this whole sarcoma saga I think I’ve had 2 doctors that have actually felt the lump. Everything else has been based off computer screens and scans. It’s not nurturing, caring, warm or loving. It’s cold, hard, cancer kicking regime which is necessary, but I don’t think it’s always good for the soul. Go find an oncology masseuse, osteo, an energy healer, or even a facial. I think it’s important to feel you’re being healed with hands as well as cancer kicking chemicals and surgery.
Writing what you’re grateful for is a nice way to shift the energy needed for anxiety, frustration and anger to something more positive. It reminds you that life is still pretty great even if your whole world has been turned upside down.
Also a necessary exercise for me. On the nights I wake up in a tense ball of stress and can’t get back to sleep, I write it all down. Once it’s on the paper and out of my head, it clears up some space for sleep. Reading back on these journals can be really hard as it reminds you how dark and scary cancer is but it can be so uplifting to realise how far you’ve come.
No screen time
My phone has started telling me I’m using it for upwards of 3 hours. WTF!? So I’ve started to consciously make an effort to pick up a book, or have a long bath or go outside into the real world. It’s easy to pick up the phone when I’ve got no energy but I feel so much better after a long bath or some time outside.
I know this is controversial and 80% of the time I’m all about the green juices, avocados and turmeric. But some days, I need a big glass of wine with a friend. It makes me feel like a normal person with a normal social life and I think that’s important and for me, the positive outweighs the potential negative.
Go. Get. Now. Escape. Get away from the place that’s part of the everyday cancer rhythm. Even if it’s only for a couple of hours. If you can go longer, Byron is always a winner.