Cancer. It brings so much change with it. In literally an instant your life is forever altered. Before, you’re mostly thinking about your friends, your family, your job, the plans you have coming up this weekend. After, all of that gets obliterated, and all that is left in its place is one looming thing. And that looming thing affects everything.
You have new doctors, new appointments, new experiences you never wanted to have like surgery and chemo. Your relatively calm and normal life has changed into something unrecognizable. And then, just as you are getting used to this new “normal”, it changes again. Treatment finishes and, as scary and awful as it was, it was strangely comforting knowing you were being taken care of and receiving drugs that were performing an important role. When all of that stops and they tell you they will see you in six months, it feels like you are set adrift without the life preserver that regular visits with your oncology team provided.
And it’s not just your daily routines and the activities either. Your relationships change, your body changes, YOU change. How you relate to people and the world around you is forever coloured by the lens of cancer. It can be a lot to handle, and it is easy to feel like the world you knew is crashing down around you. It can be terrifying. So, how do we deal?
For me, it comes back to choosing to look for the beauty in that collapse, in being forced to start over again. That’s really what cancer has ended up feeling like to me, a rebirth. I was forced to change more obvious things like diet and lifestyle, but that also rippled into many deep positive changes. It was an opportunity to make all of the physical changes I had always wanted to do but couldn’t find the motivation to, like exercising more and eating candy less; but beyond this, it was an unexpected chance to grow as a person, to bring a new grateful and inspired foundation to my life and my actions. I have gone after dreams, I have gotten through seemingly insurmountable obstacles, I have done things I never believed I could because getting to the end of my life and regretting not trying to do them was far scarier than taking a leap now. Taking advantage of the chance for positive change that cancer offers you makes dealing with all of the crappy, unwanted change easier. As awful as all of that change was, it has led me to great things too as a result. I couldn’t have achieved the positive growth that I have without all of scary change cancer brought me. And so, I am strangely grateful for it, making it much easier to accept. Things are going to change after a diagnosis, whether you like it or not, so why not make that change as positive as possible? Changes that you like along with the ones you don’t. A spoonful of sugar, as a wise woman once said ☂️
It also relates back to what I discussed in my post about whether things happen for a reason. Choosing to look for the silver linings and the positives in these big changes makes them infinitely easier to accept. Trusting and believing that something good, even something very little, will come from this tumultuous time will help you get through it. We don’t give ourselves enough credit in life. We are far more capable than we believe ourselves to be. Cancer has proven to me that I can get through times of incredible difficulty and incredible change and come out the other side a better person than when I went in. Trusting that these positives are possible as the result of change, and then seeking them out through self-exploration, can make the difference between being crushed by a change or being uplifted by it.
I encourage you to reflect on how your life has changed since cancer or whatever difficulty you are facing. For every negative you find, see if you can find a positive counterpoint. Or, if that doesn’t work for you, try thinking of just one small positive that has come as a result of the change cancer brought into your life. It could be that you had to take time off work, but that allowed you to devote more time to self-care. It could be new friendships through support groups and organizations. It could be that you have finally started eating a little better and feeling better as a result. It could be that you feel you appreciate life or your relationships more than you used to. Start small, and I think you will find that more will come to you.
Ride the change. Let it take you to new, unexplored places. The unknown can be scary, but it also represents limitless possibilities. Take charge, lean into the changes, and see where you end up. You may be entirely surprised by how you grow and evolve. I know I was.
Happy Healing ❤️