You know what to do. You are trying to do everything you can to keep going and be strong, but honestly some days all you feel like doing is curling up on the couch with a box of kleenx. I know. A cancer diagnosis can be downright depressing at best, and downright terrifying at worst.
Some days no matter how you try, you just take a dive into numbness and sadness and fear. Nothing seems worth it, or possible, or even desirable. It hurts. You feel desperate, and there seems to be no way out.
And frankly, you feel like wallowing in it.
I always say, ‘I can go there, but I don’t have to stay there!’
A few of these days are probably inevitable, and it may be ok to just feel how bad we can feel,
but then we need to find some ways to keep ourselves out of the pits so we can be about the business of doing what we need to do to give ourselves the best possible chance to survive and thrive!!
So here are some things I do to keep myself on track so that I have fewer and fewer of “those days.”
- I purposely and consciously monitor my self-talk – right at the start of the day.
Every morning when I am still in bed, just waking up, I say, “This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it!” Sometimes I repeat it 3 or 4 times. Then I try to think of things to be thankful for. Anything that comes to mind: the sun coming through my window, the warmth of the covers, the fact that I can move my legs, the love of my family, etc, etc.
Later in the morning, I repeat some affirmations such as:
- I am healthy.
- I am strong.
- I am healing.
- I feel stronger and healthier every day.
- I am blessed.
- I am well able to do the things I need to do today.
- I love eating delicious, healthy foods that I know are destroying cancer cells and fueling healthy cells. (Dr. Greger, (373) #1 Anticancer Vegetable – YouTube is one source and I will be filling this blog site with lots of sources of amazing research and positive outcomes from diet. Stay tuned!)
I know you can think of many more affirmations – spoken as if they are already true. Make them personal for you, but make them what you really want to be true!
When I notice myself slipping into negative thinking I repeat some positive affirmations, knowing that the words I speak will be true – both positive or negative -and I want the positive words manifested – not the negative.
2. I make a deliberate act of reading scripture and having it where I can see it every day.
I believe that words are soooooo powerful!!! Again, both positively and negatively!
There are so many verses from God’s Word that I love, but here is one that I always keep near:
I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17
I claim that promise because I need His direction every day! I don’t pretend for a minute that I can successfully navigate this journey on my own. Knowing that I can trust God to direct my steps gives me tremendous peace and confidence.
(I will be sharing more verses that give me much hope and encouragement in future posts.)
3. I make myself a big cup of tea just the way I like it, and I cozy up and rest.
Sometimes we just so need to rest!
4. I let myself cry if I need to, but I purposely try to bring it back around to the positive.
I may cry out to God and ask for his help, and then I turn to deliberately speaking thankfulness, even if I don’t feel thankful.
The Bible says that God inhabits the praises of His people and I want Him to be right here. I have found over and over that when I can thank Him, my body calms and I can come to a place of peace. I think it is because to be thankful involves trust. The more I trust Him the more I see reasons to trust.
5. I try to read something uplifting or listen to a podcast or video that feeds my soul.
For me, I get great encouragement from Joel Osteen’s messages on YouTube – so full of faith and inspiration! I also get great comfort from listening to Graham Cooke’s encouraging messages.
I’m sure you can find many others that you enjoy, but the point is filling our minds with something life-giving rather than going further and further down into dispair.
6. In really tough days I may wallow for a good long while, but eventually, I try to reach out and call a friend.
I am so blessed to have two very special friends that I have known since childhood. These two amazing women are always there for me, and while I try not to be a constant bother, I know that I can call them and they will listen and give me words of encouragement. Sometimes it just helps to talk to a live human being and suddenly things don’t seem so desperate.
If you don’t have someone you can call, try to contact the patient advocate at your oncology clinic, try to join a support group, or reach out to someone at your place of worship. People really do want to help, even if they don’t know to let you know. Sometimes we have to ask.
I am not trying to sound trite, but I encourage you to seek out some support rather than travel this path alone.
7. Most importantly, for me, I finally had to come to the point of answering the question, ‘What does my body need in order to heal?‘ This was a process for me. Deep inside I knew what it was and I knew I had to face it, but it took some work for me to finally come to the point of understanding to be able to release it. Dr. Lissa Rankin speaks of this in-depth in her book, Mind Over Medicine.
For me, it was being unable to forgive myself for a failing business. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.
It was the elephant in the room for me. I was sickened by it. No matter what I did I could not escape it. It was the thing I knew I had to deal with or no matter what other healthy things I did – without coming to terms with this – I would not get well.
This is a deeper subject that I will devote an entire blog post to, but in the meantime ask yourself if there is something keeping you from surviving and thriving. You will know deep inside. Don’t ignore it.
So on the days you just can’t seem to pull yourself out a funk. It’s ok. Don’t be hard on yourself. Just try to rest, and if you can, put an encouraging word or two in front of you.
Remember, tomorrow will be another day, and hopefully, then you can give yourself a little ‘pick me up plan’. It will give you some tools to help you deal with the tough days, and perhaps even make those days fewer and fewer between.
I am not trying to underestimate tough days or say, ‘just get over it, or be Pollyannish. I have lived through many of these days. Days when I just could not stop crying. Days when I felt so down I didn’t know if I could ever get up. Days when the overwhelming fear and self-pity and desperation made me feel like I was drowning.
But I made a decision that I was not going to stay in those dark places.
I chose life, and health and well-being.
I must make these choices every day. I have things left to do in this life. And I am determined to do them! I believe that having dreams and goals for my future is what is healing me and giving me the best possible chance to survive and thrive!
I hope that some or all of these 7 encouragements for days when your cancer diagnosis seems so overwhelming that all you want to do is cry have encouraged you and given you hope! Cancer can be all-consuming, but each day is precious, we all have the gift of ourselves to give, and these daily practices can equip us to be strong enough to keep going and to give out those gifts.
- Start each day by purposely and consciously monitoring your self-talk.
- Make a deliberate act of reading scripture and having it where you can see it.**
- Remember to cozy up with a big cup of tea and rest every day.
- Cry if you need to, but purposely bring it back around to the positive.
- Read or listen to something uplifting that feeds your soul.
- Reach out and call a friend.
- Eventually, find a way to deal with the elephant in the room – what does your body need to heal?
You may have other practices that encourage you and help you through the tough times. I would love to hear from you!
** I included #2 because this is probably the most encouraging thing I do for myself – I couldn’t leave it out! The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12, ” For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and to the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the heart.” 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” This cancer journey we are on is no cakewalk! I, for one, need words that are powerful and God-breathed. The more I lean into His Word and claim His promises, the more encouragement, and faith, and strength, and joy, and hope, and love I experience. If this is new to you, or contrary to what you have believed, I encourage you to get alone and quiet and ask God to reveal Himself to you in His Word. If you need a place to start, I love the psalms. What can it hurt? I believe you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.