We cancer survivors, especially the young adults, need to accept that gaining our lives back after cancer treatment may not be feasible. There’s this whole thing called the “new normal” — cancer has changed our lives for better or worse.
Aiming for positive legacies from cancer is an essential facet of molding your new normal for the better. I strive to use my cancer journey as a catalyst for affecting people around me in positive ways — including myself. Cancer has provided me the opportunity to improve my life while making a deep impact on our society.
I discovered my mental health
Cancer’s influence on mental health is one of the first things that most oncologists discuss with a newly diagnosed patient. The doctors might even prescribe anxiety medication, as anxiety is a disorder common to patient experiences both during and post-cancer (and often before the diagnosis).
Rather than restricting myself to mental health stigmas, I’ve found that the healthiest and most beneficial way to better myself has been to embrace the anxiety and actively work on it. There are so many ways to attack the disorder. Oncologist offices and cancer centers likely have mental health support, whether for newly diagnosed patients or those trying to navigate survivorship and post-traumatic stress disorder. I also find that as much as speaking to someone helps, journaling is also wildly beneficial. There’s always room for improving one’s mental health, and sometimes a cancer diagnosis gets that kickstarted!
I practice gratitude and mindfulness
Faced with a life-threatening circumstance, one of my first inclinations was to practice gratitude for each day. Life is a gift, right? I did gratitude journaling to keep my head in the right space. I’ve found that this is perfect for bettering myself while exploring my new normal. The aftermath of a diagnosis isn’t the easiest, but I can say that I am bettering myself every day by being conscious of what I have to be grateful for.
I’ve developed better habits
As for my diet and appreciation for physical activity, I think my diagnosis really improved the way that I take care of myself. With the help of my husband and his healthy exercise habits, I have been getting into the groove of going to the gym regularly, not just to lose weight but also to get my lungs back in shape from the harsh long-term side effects of chemo. I have also become vegan. I was vegetarian-organic before my treatment but have taken the initiative, after extensive research, to better my health through food.
I make it my mission to better the lives of others. I am an open book about my journey so that I can hopefully help at least one other person get through this traumatic diagnosis.
There’s not a right or wrong way to “do cancer.” But I believe that as long as you take control and actively work to better yourself through any adversity, you can create progress and the world that you want to live in.
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.