Monday, February 28, 2011

Making Plans - Safe or Not Safe?


You’ve either finished your treatment or are still undergoing chemo and living under that “cancer cloud” - the cloud that makes you afraid to plan for that summer family vacation, paint your dining room, get a pet, etc. You’re questioning whether it’s worth it since you won’t be here to enjoy it. In other words, you’ve given cancer total control over you by allowing its cloud to put your life on hold while you’re waiting for that day to come when you may hear that the disease has come back.

Often times, cancer survivors living under this cloud will live in fear and worry from scan to scan while watching life go by. If you recognize yourself as living under this cloud, ask yourself why you had treatment in the first place? If the answer was to live, then isn’t it about time to take that leap and start living your life again, whatever that looks like for your?

One of my favorite quotes is by Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983) “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.” What can you do to recognize how strong your winds of change are and blow this cloud away? Isn’t it time to start living your life?

~ Lorraine, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I'm Done with Treatment- Why am I so TIRED?!

Long-term fatigue is a common and frustrating side effect of cancer treatment. It’s often described as a “bone weary” tired, leaving one feeling debilitated and struggling to accomplish every day activities.

If you can, think of fatigue as being cumulative during the treatment process and a normal side effect from chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Now, combine this fatigue with any emotional symptoms that you may be experiencing such as depression, anxiety, fear of recurrence, or worry. It’s no wonder that you’re so tired!

So now that you have an explanation for your fatigue and recognize that it’s not you, how do you go about getting past it and enjoying life? First start by seeing your fatigue for what it really is, a normal side effect of your diagnosis. Working with a counselor at Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center or attending one of our many support groups can be very helpful in working through your emotional distress. Then add exercise to the equation to increase your endurance, but take it slow at first because overdoing it will only make you more tired. A program such as Strides to Strength can help you exercise safely and reach your goal. Check out their Web page and watch a patient testimonial video!

What will you do to help yourself feel better, have more energy and start living your life again?

~ Lorraine, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Caring for the Caregiver

“If you don’t take care of yourself how can you take care of someone else?!” How many times have you heard this said to your primary caregiver(s)? Caregiver burnout is a symptom of a cancer diagnosis and very common among those who are caring for someone in treatment.

Caregivers often experience physical symptoms associated with stress such as headache, muscle tightness, insomnia, fatigue, etc. Emotional symptoms of stress such as anger, guilt, fear, worry, or a sense of helplessness also directly impact the physical symptoms of caregiver burnout.

For many, the role of caregiver is a new one. Stop and take a moment to think about your caregiver and all that he/she has taken on to support you during treatment. If you recognize any signs of caregiver burnout, encourage your caregiver to take time for self-care and participate in activities that help reduce stress: exercise, hobbies, or any other type of respite activity.

You can also encourage them to meet with a counselor or attend a caregiver support group, for example our Caregiver Connections Support Group that meets every Thursday afternoon at Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center from 2-3 p.m. Or better yet, sign them up for an afternoon of relaxation at our Caregiver Retreat on March 10th where they can enjoy lunch, chair massages, relaxation techniques and a guest speaker!

How does your caregiver practice good self-care? Inquiring minds want to know…….

~ Lorrraine, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center