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Planning Your Future As A Cancer Survivor

A cancer diagnosis can be an overwhelming experience. I can remember feeling shock, anger, and denial. How could this be happening to me? I lived a healthy lifestyle and was enjoying life. I experienced concern for the future. Will I miss opportunities and life events of my new granddaughter?

What about my plans for work? Would I need to retire from my nursing career? Life is too short; there are many things to do and places to see. Will the proposed chemotherapy be effective, or will my blood cancer recur?

The following are several strategies that have helped me deal with life as a cancer survivor.

Dealing with the fear of recurrence:

  • Make lifestyle changes to improve your overall health. Get enough rest and follow a healthy diet. Both help me manage stress and worry and fatigue.
  • Consider a hobby to occupy your mind. When I worry my mind is like a video camera and I cannot sleep. Find an activity that appeals to you. Give it a try.
  • Keeping a journal provides an outlet to express your feelings. It can help you identify and cope with emotions. For me it reduces stress and tension and improves my mood. It encourages me to practice mindfulness.

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Managing anxiety and worry:

  • Learn what triggers your emotions. For me scan-xiety, fear of an upcoming CT scan makes me anxious.
  • Staying calm strategies include deep breathing and repeat affirmations or prayer may be effective.
  • Intentionally do things that you enjoy and improve your mood and reduce your stress level. Talking and visiting with my son and granddaughter provides comfort and relaxation.
  • Take time for yourself. Listen to music, meditate, or practice yoga. I discovered attending religious services provides me with comfort and support.
  • Try to be open with your loved ones. Share your thoughts and feelings with them. My husband is a great support, with whom I can share my fears and worries. I also find it helpful to talk with fellow cancer survivors.
  • When faced with a difficult decision, list the pro and cons for each choice. I have found by identifying each factor, I can come to an easier decision.
  • Find a source of spiritual support. I was fortunate to find a very comforting and supportive pastor in our church. He has guided me both during mine and my husband’s illness as we are both cancer survivors.
  • Remain involved with work and leisure activities as much as possible. I was fortunate to be able to retire from full time nursing. Now I continue to volunteer for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and volunteer at the rehabilitation facility which cared for my husband. I am active in my parish community and enjoy teaching religious instruction to students. These activities give me purpose in my daily life.

Life can be meaningful

Certainly, the cancer diagnosis is life changing. The challenge of cancer and its treatment can be overwhelming. However, life changes can be meaningful. I never miss an opportunity to spend time with family and plan to do things that make me happy. These include travel and activities with friends and family. My priorities have changed. Life is more rewarding. I am living in gratitude. I hope the above strategies may help you as a cancer survivor plan your future.

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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 Blood-Cancer.com 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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