Monday, May 31, 2010

How do I live my life without always worrying that the cancer will come back?

This is a question that is asked by so many survivors. Once you have been faced with cancer, this fear will undoubtedly go through your head at some point. The anxiety about your upcoming scan or that ache that you have in your back can numb you with fear until it’s over and you know everything is fine. Until the next time. You want to stay positive, and you try your best, but you can’t get past that little voice saying, “What if...”

So what do you do to get through those times? Some survivors find that breathing exercises help them. Others use writing or meditation to calm themselves. Exercise, reading, or talking to a support person are also helpful. Do whatever helps you to feel calm and more in control of your thoughts. Be prepared. Be aware of what your triggers are. Then you will know when to expect the anxiety to increase and you can already be working to control it.

What are your triggers? What tools have worked for you when anxiety kicks in?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Should I take the keys?

When a loved one is cognitively affected due to brain cancer, metastasis, or treatment, many caregivers are left to make decisions about whether it is safe for their loved one to keep driving. The decision seems simple on the surface but guilt and sadness often creep up to cloud ones judgment. No caregiver wants to feel as though they are taking the independence of a loved one. After all they have already lost so much of their freedom because of cancer. Ultimately, it becomes not about simply when to “take the keys” but about what taking the keys represents.

My recommendation to caregivers is to let compassion guide you…but not to the point of irresponsibility. Together with the oncologist, have conversations about how cancer may affect thoughts and functioning. Be clear about a plan to move forward if your loved one should be affected. Ask your loved one to identify what it will “look” like when and if it is time to “take the keys”. Be creative about how you and your loved one can adjust your lifestyle and retain as much independence as possible.

What ways have you and your loved ones adapted to this and other challenges?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Celebrating Survivorship

Survivor’s Day will be Sunday, June 6, 2010, at Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center from 2-4pm. This year’s theme is “Seeds of Hope,” as survivors are planting seeds everyday on their journey, many with the support of family members, their medical community and with support groups and services offered through the Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center.

Celebrations are important, they signify milestones we have reached in our lives. When it comes to becoming a cancer survivor, everyday can become a celebration. On Survivors Day, cancer survivors take time out of busy schedules and routines to celebrate survivorship with other survivors , family and friends. There will be activities for all age groups, information on wellness and a delicious lunch.

It is important to set aside this time to honor one another as each survivor moves along on their journey. Have there been any other rituals you may have created to honor your own survivorship?