Life isn’t perfect. We aren’t perfect. So as you go down the healing path to stay well, there will be situations thrown your way that will throw you off course. What do you do when this happens?
Over the years, I’ve gone through this many times. After cancer, when I had chosen a different path to follow, it wasn’t always so easy to find my way back. Support wasn’t always there to lead me. This becomes apparent because after cancer, we walk to a different drummer – a healing drummer.
Starting Point – Identify the Path
The treatment phase of the cancer journey is full of doctor’s appointments, treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy, and programs that facilitate healing. It’s a busy time, especially when you may still have a family to manage, or work if you are able to work, or just your life as you knew it before you were diagnosed.
Most of us are not able to work during this time. I recall using the time to read, rest, learn other ways of healing, and practise new skills to help me heal. These skills were meditation and journaling. They took time and energy. They also called me to look deep inside to what might be the source of this unease in my body. And, unease in my mind and spirit – areas that are often overlooked but so critical to the healing phase of the journey.
It is this phase that helps you determine what YOUR healing path is. It will be unique to you. This is a difficult part – its hard work to dig down, rethink activities or lifestyle choices, try new ideas for nutrition, and find out what you really believe about some of the complementary therapies that are available.
And, also come to terms with your spirituality – the prospect of your mortality – not something most people want to face.
Without this work, it will be most difficult to get back on track if you have not identified what the track or path is.
Next Step – Be Aware of What Draws You Offside
Life happens. People do not always live up to our expectations. We don’t always live up to our own expectations. And, our capacity for living life has changed. A lot of variables are now in the mix – ones that likely were not there before.
Plus we have years of living with our own peculiar habits and beliefs. Change is difficult.
Some of the challenges that may lead you astray –
|1.||Non support of family/friends
They are used to you the way you were before cancer. However, cancer changes us. We are not the same person we were before. Those close to us are uncertain and unsure about how to interact with this new person in their life. Pressure will be brought to fall back to old patterns because they are familiar.
Depending on your particular cancer and the treatment, there may be real physical changes that are challenging for yourself and for others. These changes may often be seen on the outside; however, there are many that happen deep in your mind and soul.
For example, women who have gone through a mastectomy work around issues of self esteem, body image, what to wear and how, intimacy with a spouse or partner, etc. The physical issues are the easiest to accommodate. The emotional piece takes much longer and has a far reaching impact on relationships, not to mention the person.
Another example is those who have had head/neck/throat cancers. Eating is a major challenge which requires a special diet. Swallowing is not a simple matter anymore. Breathing can be difficult due to scar tissue build up. It may also include some speech therapy when losing part of your tongue is involved. Just that piece – communication – is huge. It is how we connect with others and is a major factor in how others view us, especially in business.
It has been my experience that many people around you feel that once you have gone through treatment, you will be back to your usual self. It’s done. You’re healed. It may be uncomfortable for them to see you changed. This may cause them to withdraw which can be a painful experience.
This is when strength is required. Knowing your path, where you want to go and where you need to be to be healed is so important. Then the influence of others is not as strong a pull and the changes will be less painful.
Knowing When You’re Offside
This is an interesting part of the journey. As you move farther from your diagnosis time, treatment and initial healing, the strength of your convictions to stay on this path may wane or dim as time goes by. You may start to slide back into old patterns. Life will call you back to your former lifestyle. The crisis seems to be less – I’m okay thoughts settle in, although not completely.
As your energy returns, you start to feel you can do more, be more, run faster. That works for a while, but your body has changed. You have changed. What you could do before is not always possible anymore.
Some of us are more aware of our bodies than others. Being a dancer, I’m quite aware of any changes in my body, but I still fall prey to these same ways of being. For me, it’s been since 1990 – so a long ways away. However, I get called up short when I veer off too far. My body will tell me.
Here are some signs:
|1.||Fatigue – this is different than just being tired. This is a fatigue that is deep in the bones where you have nothing left to give. The energy bank is completely empty. I used to be able to push through fatigue. Not anymore. It causes me to simply stop. Over and done.|
|2.||Unease – life just seems too hard. Nothing is coming easily or with a sense of flow. I seem to be pushing a big rock uphill. Being persistent and trained to work through obstacles, this is a sticky point for me. When to call a halt to what I’m doing and rethink what is happening. Over the years, I’ve changed course a few times. I’ve veered too far off course and needed to come back to my path where life flows.|
|3.||Physical problems – indigestion, sleeplessness, aches and pains. My body has had enough. It’s saying get back to basics. This is when you realize that health is the most important asset you have in life. It’s not how much money you make, how fancy a car you drive, how big a house you have, or how important your position in society is. It really doesn’t matter much if you are not well. Cancer taught us that in the beginning when we realize it doesn’t discriminate between those that have and those that have not.|
Getting Back on Track
This is where we need the tools we learned back at the beginning of this journey. Most of us only use a few of them to start. They get us through the initial phase and keep us company along the journey for the first while.
As the journey progresses, however, we are in a different place. Now what? Hopefully, the tools we learned are working. If they are not anymore, then it’s time to look for other ways to get back on the path.
You may have completely changed your lifestyle. I know I did. I did a major turnabout. However, some pieces of my previous lifestyle will make an appearance now and again. I often wonder how that happens when I really thought I’d dealt with the issue before. What happens is old emotions, old habits that are deeply hidden in our subconscious jump up at unexpected moments to hijack us. Having learned how to deal with hijacked thoughts/emotions, gives me a basis to move through the issue. I can also see a pattern forming and work to change course.
Knowing your path, being willing to learn and grow, being aware of your body, mind, spirit connection – all are ways to 1) know that you are off track, and 2) help you get back into balance and going in the right direction.
I can assure you, that you will definitely know when you hit that sweet spot in your life. There is such a sense of peace, of feeling that you are in the right place, that you would be doing what you are doing regardless of money, prestige, and any earthly benchmarks. You are simply being yourself and fulfilling your mission in life.