How I Practiced Self Care During My Blood Cancer Treatment

Through self-care, we pay attention to our needs, strengthen ourselves, and build resilience. A study by Yale University in 2011 reported that benefits include improved quality of life, better treatment outcomes, and improvement in fatigue, pain, and nausea. Self-care practices can reduce the adverse effects of stress, sleep disturbances and help prevent overload.

The cancer journey is emotional and filled with unexpected ups and downs. It is hard to stay positive, but I found talking to someone lessened my stress.

Talking it out

Opening up can help you manage a wide range of feelings that come with a cancer diagnosis. I shared my feelings with my husband and close friends. By doing this it lightened my burden. Confide in your physician. I was able to voice my fears and concerns with my physician who was kind enough to share his number with me so I could text him as needed.

Knowledge is power. Read up on possible side effects during and after treatment. This can give you a sense of control. Know when to call your physician. I ignored a temperature elevation after my first chemotherapy treatment. This resulted in a hospital admission. I quickly learned when to report any unusual occurrences.

Find your zen

Try to reduce stress and worries which can help your body fight cancer. This was my challenge as I am a worrier who needs to be in control. I discovered meditation and aromatherapy helped me ease stress.

I learned about yoga toward the end of my chemotherapy. I wish I had known about the positive effects of yoga earlier. It cleared my head and helped me feel more positive.

Prioritize sleep and rest

Chemotherapy makes one feel tired. I experienced incapacitating fatigue which forced me to take a leave of absence from my teaching position. I learned to listen to my body and spent my energy wisely. I spread out items on my “to do” list. I protected my time and said “no” when I felt overwhelmed. It is also important to let friends and family help when possible.

I also learned to make time for things that I enjoy such as reading romance novels, walking outdoors, and listening to the ocean waves.

Cancer can be out of our control with its demands of treatment, side effects, and surgery. It can make us feel helpless and frustrated. I learned that there are things we can do to regain a sense of control. We may not be able to change cancer, but we can make decisions about how we care for ourselves.

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