Someone hangs up a photo of themselves with cancer ribbon, theyre moving on

The Next Chapter of My Life After Cancer

I am a survivor of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. During chemotherapy, my life was “on hold" while I focused on treatment. What would I do next in this new world post-cancer? Get back to normal? Life has new meaning to me as I look at things differently.

Feeling lucky to have survived this disease and treatment, I take joy in every day.

The following are some of the strategies that I utilized as I took the time to reflect and celebrate my life. Think of things you have accomplished, people you have loved, and events that have shaped your life. Reminisce and talk about these memories.

Making changes to focus on what matters

Make changes in your life to reflect what matters most. Possibly spending more time with your loved ones, placing less focus on your job, or enjoying the pleasures of nature. I had to learn to say "no" - I could not be the “superwoman” as in the past. I needed to set boundaries and my job was no longer my priority. I had a successful career but had to learn to delegate. Instead, I started to do things that I enjoyed, like yoga and reflexology.

Put the people that you love first. My family is my number one priority and I make sure we spend time together. Spending time with my granddaughter brings me joy.

Consider accomplishing any unfinished goals. This can help bring a sense of meaning and completion to your life. My son talked about buying a summer home. Since we already had a small summer home, my husband suggested we buy a larger one together with my son and his family. I am ecstatic that we can spend beach time with the most important people in my life.

Consider fulfilling a dream to travel somewhere. We hope one day to take my granddaughter to Paris and London.

Find news ways to discover joy

Explore new rituals that can bring a sense of joy. I discovered religion and spirituality provided comfort and meaning to my life. I made time to teach religious instruction to grammar school students. In addition, I started taking a bible class to better understand my religious heritage.

Find humor and laughter. The brain releases chemicals that produce pleasure and relax your muscles. Enjoy time with children and pets. We recently adopted a puppy who has brought more joy and fun.

New rituals and new beginnings can bring a sense of relief and happiness.

After the initial period of feeling devastated with a cancer diagnosis, making the decision to “live” again can help make the most of each day. The threat of death can renew our appreciation of life, love, friendship, and everything there is to enjoy.

I have found meaning in a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Don’t be pushed by your problems: Be led by your dreams”.

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