Survival Strategies

Everyone thinks of the word 'survival' differently - especially when it comes to cancer. No matter our thoughts, each and every day we have to survive, whatever our situation may be. However, that seems even more crucial when we have cancer. Luckily, there are some strategies that can help us with this, because we all need to be ‘survivors.’

Finding pleasure

When Crystal had cancer, she found pleasure in so many of the little things in life. For example, going out to enjoy a cup of coffee while she chatted online or taking a walk with her sisters. Crystal learned how to use the video program on her computer and started making videos to share aspects of her experience as she went through treatment. She exercised when she could, researched her disease, and occasionally got out to enjoy a meal. The most important thing was, she tried to be excited for each day, as much as she could, and took advantage of her time off to learn new things.

My personal belief is, we have to have something to look forward to. Without that, we can fall into a pattern of despair. At first, Crystal was depressed - who wouldn’t be at her age? She had to give up so much. But then she picked herself up, dusted herself off, and got busy. She started by getting out of the house. She was home by herself a lot of the time because I had to work, but she didn’t let that stop her. She made friends with the owner of our local coffee shop and so she would stop in there to talk to her. She got in touch with a couple of friends she hadn’t seen for a while and went out to eat or got together to catch up. She tried to be around other people as often as she could. It was one of the ways she made the best of a bad situation.

Finding a hobby

One of the most rewarding things Crystal did was to find a hobby. It wasn’t just any hobby - it was making chemo bags for others. This was good for her in quite a few ways. For example, it kept her busy and motivated so she wasn’t just sitting around thinking about her situation. It also made her feel good. Whenever you do something nice for another person, it seems to give you inner happiness. This was very true in Crystal’s case. She got a lot of joy out of doing research about what to add to the bags and then making them. Doing this was some of the best medicine she got during that time. She continued with this project for about a year but then had to stop due to the demands of her job. Although she had to conclude this project, she was able to surprise and make a lot of people happy as they received her special chemo bags in the mail. I felt very fortunate to be able to help her with this and the last donation we made was to the VFW hospital. It was such a good feeling.

One more really good thing Crystal did was to get out and get fresh air. She took walks when she could, but she would also have her morning coffee and do some of her computer work outside. I think getting out in the morning sun helped to brighten her day and help with her mood. Another thing that got her outside was her niece Mia. Whenever Mia was over, she and Crystal were inseparable. This helped her too.

Making time for you

Although ‘survival’ may mean different things to different people, sometimes ‘surviving’ just means to get through the day. What we found was that some of the best survival techniques are as simple as enjoying those little things we do daily. When you have cancer, you get a whole new perspective on the things you do. Now is the time to enjoy the little things in life and make time for yourself and what you need to feel ok. I really believe taking time to, ‘stop and smell the roses’ as they say - keeps you young, healthy, happy, and able to enjoy life. Wishing you all health and happiness!

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