How to Journal: Your Cancer Experience

writing journalHow to Journal: Your Cancer Experience

One thing I found to be exceptionally helpful to me was to begin writing a journal when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer.  I didn’t know how to journal, I just knew that I needed to get some things down on paper and FAST.

I’ve always kept a diary ever since our son was born, so I didn’t find it difficult to begin.

I believe perhaps that others have some problems in that regard, so I found you a lovely resource in a website called “Journaling Saves!” written by Kristin Donovan.

Here’s a link entitled How to Journal in 10 Simple Steps.  Wonderful information, and that will get you started.

How Journaling Helped Me

Here’s how journaling helped me.  When I was going through breast cancer, I was reading a pile of information on breast cancer (sometimes several books at a time), a stack of natural healing books and heaps of inspirational info.  When I would find a passage that made sense to me or that I particularly wanted to remember, I wrote it in my healing journal.  Here’s one of my favorites:

“Think of cancer as a message from God to repair the delicate pattern of your soul and internal bodily health through love, nurturing, understanding and acceptance, and as a way to bring those aspects of your life that are out of balance back into balance.”  (Katrina Ellis, from Shattering the Cancer Myth).

Journaling was amazingly helpful to me, I found it essential to be able to refer to those passages I wrote and recall the information quickly.  To see it in my own handwriting also seemed to lend it credence.  I still thumb through the pages of my healing journal once in awhile.

Why Journaling Might Help You

The reason you might want to journal?  Think of it as a container for self reflection, self-expression and self exploration.  It can be a very healing thing to do.

It gets things out of your head and into the light of day – makes them more real.

You might discover some things that need healing – issues, negative beliefs, relationships – things will bubble up from your subconscious mind.

Researchers have found that people who write their deepest thoughts and feelings about upsetting events in their lives have stronger immunity and visit their doctors half as often.  Journaling reduces stress, it even helps your organizational skills.

Journaling can help move you towards wholeness and growth – to who you really are.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

The Best Chance to Heal Yourself – Own It

elation

The Best Chance to Heal Yourself

I’m seeing a trend with breast cancer patients that worries me a bit.  To put it bluntly, I think that it’s misguided to put your entire healing process totally in the hands of your medical team.  That gives them all the power and none for yourself and that does NOT give you the best chance to heal yourself.

Your medical team, no matter how highly esteemed or how accomplished, function largely in the role of body mechanics.  They are trained in terms of body.  They can operate on you, they can prescribe a treatment strategy, but they are not responsible for your life or your health!

You are.

Nobody can get well for you.  You have to do it for yourself.

I think it’s wonderful to select a medical team in whom you have a great degree of confidence.  That’s important to do.

But once they are in place, your attention must also focus on the role of mind and spirit in this journey with cancer.

You are a totality of body, mind and soul – to ignore the other aspects and focus only on the body I believe is a mistake.

What Helped Me

I sought out a psychotherapist to help me with stress levels, I went to a person who taught me something called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to deal with my negative thoughts about cancer, my husband and I did some relationship counseling, we learned to meditate from a group of Buddhist monks — I did all this to give my body and my mind and my spirit a chance to heal.  These things might not work for you, but I would encourage you to find the things that DO work for you.

Honestly, I felt so good after taking care of all the emotional baggage – so much lighter and like I wanted to take on the world.  For me, that’s when true healing began to take place.

So empower yourself.  Do what you need to do to get beyond this – and be the beautiful spirit I know you can be.  You deserve it and the world needs your healing.  Now, more than ever.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

14 Loving Ways to Support a Spouse with Cancer

couple hugging 214 Loving Ways to Support a Spouse With Cancer

Whether the diagnosis has come for a man or a woman, if your spouse has been diagnosed with cancer, you can feel like your whole world has turned upside down.

What you never expected or never even wanted to happen has just become a reality and it can be a big shock.  There are, however, many things that you can do to make the process easier for both of you.

  1. Move through that initial shock together.  Hold each other – hugs are so healing and both of you will be needing them. Cry if you need to.  The most important thing you can give your spouse right now is your love, to let them know that no matter what happens, you’ll get through it together.  If that initial stage of shock takes several weeks, try not to fight it.  Honor where you are and how you’re feeling.  It takes however long it takes.  But know that your spouse needs an emotional anchor, and you’re it, whether you like it or not.
  2. Be there and be strong. Your spouse needs you now more than ever.  Just realize that they might not be so much fun to be with all the time.  Please don’t give into the temptation to hide from the situation by getting busier with work, hobbies, or other things that keep you away from them.   You’re going to encounter some tough times – supporting someone who’s going through chemotherapy is not easy.  But they’ll remember what you did for them later.
  3. At work.  Look into your options for taking time off in case you need to care for your spouse. There may be different options depending on your place of employment as well as your state or local laws. Your human resources department should be able to point you in the right direction.  Tell your supervisor in advance that you may need to take a leave of absence.
  4. Be sure to look after yourself too.  Right at first you’ll be fine, but at some point, you’re probably going to feel like hell.  Go get a massage, hang out with a friend for an hour – do whatever you need to do to keep yourself strong.  Carergiver Syndrome is a very real thing and you don’t want it!
  5. Listen to your spouseThis may be the most important thing you can do for them right now. You know your spouse better than anyone else, and you trust each other.  Listen to their fears, worries and concerns with love.  Understand that neither of you may have the right words to talk about these things – you may have some awkward moments, and you may have to agree with each other that any words (even if they are not the “right” ones) are better than no words.
  6. Go with your spouse to appointments as often as you canBe an advocate.  Though your spouse may be a strong person, a person with cancer is often in no shape to battle hospital bureaucracies, thoughtless medical personnel, or anyone else.  Make it your job to take their side and ask questions until you get answers.  Even the best medical care personnel get too busy or distracted, so if/when that happens, you need to make sure your spouse gets the care they need.  Also two sets of listening ears are always better than one.
  7. Help organize medical appointments and paperwork.  Do your best to keep track of doctor’s appointments, prescriptions, hospital bills, test reports, and the hundreds of other pieces of paper that is engendered by cancer treatment.  Someone with “chemo brain” will definitely be relieved not to have to keep track of them.
  8. Communicate with family and friends.  They will want to know what’s happening, even though some of them may react strangely and not at all as you expected.  Don’t judge them, some people just can’t handle sickness.  Since this whole process can take awhile, consider setting up a blog, an email list, a Facebook page, or some other communication network to keep friends and family informed of your spouse’s progress without having to share news repeatedly with each individual.
  9. Know you are not alone – most will want to help. This isn’t always the case but if you let people know that you need some help, they are usually only too willing to jump in and help however they can.  Choose people you know you can trust. Try to give people something they can do even if it is something simple like bringing food to share when they come to visit or mowing the lawn or chopping up vegetables for the juicer.
  10. Be patient during chemotherapy.  Everyone knows that chemotherapy can cause nausea, but it can also cause food to taste strange – it may taste metallic or bitter.  Gently encourage your spouse to eat whatever he/she can.  Ask what tastes good and find a way to cook it or get it. Don’t be troubled if your spouse’s preferences change overnight and know that this won’t last forever!
  11. Keep yourself well. Wash your hands regularly and carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer for use when you’re out and about.  While your spouse is going through chemotherapy their immune system will be low and you’ll need to exercise extra care.  Avoid people who have an illness.
  12. Try to carry on as normal.  There is something comforting about routine, even in the midst of cancer.  Cancer doesn’t mean the world has to grind to a halt. If you and your spouse have normal routines and things you enjoy doing, try to keep them up as much as possible. But always be sensitive to fatigue, emotional stress, or other reasons for not doing things you normally do, and give into the needs of your spouse when you need to.
  13. Don’t leave. Regardless of the state of your relationship, this is the absolutely worst thing you can do to your spouse at this vulnerable time.  A person can get over cancer, but they will never get over the deep and lasting emotional injury you will inflict if you abandon them now.  And neither will you.  Don’t do it.  Stay, even if you’re not that happy with the situation.  Once your spouse is well again, then you can make that heavy decision.
  14. Reconnect with your spiritual beliefs.  Whether you believe in prayer or meditation, your spiritual beliefs are going to help you get through this.  You and your spouse will need a lot of resources to win this battle, more than you can get together on your own.  Don’t neglect your spirituality in this fight. It can connect you with the source of your greatest strength.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

Dealing With the “What-If’s”

 

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com and photostock

Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com and photostock

Dealing With the What-If’s

Every cancer patient will tell you that there comes a point on a sleepless night when the “what-if’s” come to haunt and harass.

No matter how strong the patient, how resolute, how focused in their healing… there’s always a dark night when the following questions come home to roost:

What if I can’t get well?

What if it comes back?

What if I die?  How will my family cope?

I didn’t expect to have these feelings, but I did, and usually when I was ultra-tired.

Some Wise Words

I’m a frequent visitor on the American Cancer Society’s “What Next” forum and a nice man from England named Steve Darke had a great answer to this question recently:

“We go through so many emotions when faced with our own mortality but these emotions are shared by many of us… we must put weight to the positive emotions such as hope. If we choose to live our lives in fear then we are mourning away our future happiness, a happiness which is ours by right.  I may die from this illness but I won’t let this illness take away my dreams for I believe without our hopes and dreams we are painting ourselves a very bleak future where all the colours find their way to darker shades of black from the tears that we cry.

“At least we have knowledge of the fate that may belie us, there have been many who say goodbye whilst parting and are never seen again; at least knowing the things we now know, we are able to speak the words that are unsaid, and right the things that are wrong.  Here is something called ‘Wasted Moments’ taken from my book Reaching For A Rainbow – A Practical Guide to Living Alongside Cancer (written by Steve Darke):

I am neither a spring flower nor a mighty oak, I am just a man with frailty of life, it’s not the time I have but the journey that counts, regrets for the future of what might have been are what the reaper leaves behind as unfinished business, cast aside regrets and trivial things, say the things you have to say, share the things you have to share and live your journey to the end.

Beautiful words, thank you Steve.  Steve has started his own blog and here is a link to it.

Some Help For Those Feelings

In order to help you keep the anxiety at bay, I’ll share a couple of things that really helped me.

  • EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) – I found a practitioner that helped me work through those feelings early on.  Here’s an 11-minute video outlining the technique and you can try it now.  Definitely honor where you are now but don’t let fear and anxiety take you over.
  • A quote from Louise Hay in “You Can Heal Your Life”:  “Invite your fears in, then tell them to sit down and shut up!”
  • I just looked Death square in the eye and said I’M NOT AFRAID OF YOU.  I’M ALSO NOT READY FOR YOU, SO YOU CAN JUST GO AWAY.
  • Get a massage or some form of bodywork – it has such a calming effect and can be so healing.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

Favorite Inspirational Quote #7

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng and duchessa

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng and duchessa

Today’s favorite inspirational quote comes from Dr Bernie Siegel in “Love, Medicine & Miracles” and the subject is the importance of peace of mind.

“Getting well isn’t the main objective.  That can set you up for failure.  If you set a physical goal, then you may fail, but if you make peace of mind your goal, you can achieve it.  My message is peace of mind, not curing cancer, blindness, or paraplegia.  In achieving peace of mind, cancer may be healed, sight may be restored, and paralysis may disappear.  All of these things may occur through peace of mind, which creates a healing environment in the body.”

When you consider the research being done about the body-mind connection, how stress often plays a huge role in the development of disease, and how often we are stressed these days, Dr Siegel’s comment makes a lot of sense.

Check out my free downloadable Guided Meditation if you need help with stress.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.

free-ebooks-breast-cancer-marnie-clark

Join Marnie's Breast Care Community

Enter your details below to receive my informative newsletter and I'll also send you a copy of my 2 eBooks as my gift to you!

Success! Go check your e-mail and confirm your email address so that I can send your gift.