Gaining Control of Blood-Cancer

One of the more stressful discoveries surrounding my encounter with blood cancer, aside from the initial shock, treatment protocols, and the physical/emotional reactions to chemotherapy, was an awareness of a growing negative mindset. In short, I was not in a good place.

Feeling out of control

As I continued down my self-created dark tunnel, it became increasingly more difficult to see any potential for a brighter future. In addition to impacting my outlook, the preoccupation with gloom, doom, and negative thinking was also fostering negative thoughts in the very people who were trying to support me. I needed to find a way to escape my emotional whirlpool.

My blood cancer diagnosis came several years after having been treated but not cured of an aggressive prostate cancer (PCa). In many ways, I was preconditioned to envision a negative outcome with my blood cancer treatments based on repeated experiences with PCa. At the same time, a small voice in my head  kept nudging me to get back to enjoying life by asking, "Why do you keep drifting into negative thinking?"  

The first hint of an “aha awakening” came when I fully accepted the fact that all my worrying was not accomplishing anything positive. Instead, it was creating additional stress.

Fear can protect from danger, sometimes

Due to how  the human species evolved over thousands of years, we apparently can have predisposition  to disregard positive life events in favor of prioritizing negative memories of events which caused fear, pain, or discomfort. Fear can help protect us from danger. If something causes pain, we want to remember what caused it and at the same time look for ways to avoid a similar experience in the future.

The fear I was experiencing over a possible cancer recurrence it turns out was a "normal" reaction. At the same time discovering I had  cancer also resulted in my having a diminished level of trust in my body and I found myself facing a future filled with uncertainty. Fear triggers a huge dump of fight or flight hormones into our bodies.

While it is a great survival tool in short bursts, living in constant fear floods the body with hormones which in excess can be harmful over time.

Focusing on living in the present

Since rolling back the evolutionally clock is not possible, I decided to focus attention on doing things that were within my power and  also allow me to live in the present. I made it a point to get to bed on time every evening and to also focus on breathing. As a professional speaker, I know diaphragmatic breathing is very effective in helping one calm down before making a presentation.

The approach is to find a quiet place and concentrate on  breathing deeper than usual and concentrate attention on your stomach vs your chest and lungs. This type of breathing really works for me and may work for you as well.

I also began to question and confront my anxieties vs letting them roam free in my head. I began by directing my attention to distractions I could do right now. When stressed I ask myself is there something I could do right now to distract myself and improve my outlook.

As I regained a level of control in one part of my life it became easier to repeat the process and experience a new-found sense of self confidence in other areas as well. Feel free to share your own tips below for ways you found helpful in dealing with the stress of blood-cancer.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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