Guest Author - Rann Patterson
Routines Are Healthy
Life is made up of routines that come from working, raising a family, friendships, sports, and community projects, just to name a few. And these are routines that are built from choices that you make. When cancer comes into the picture, it comes uninvited. It does not stand at the door and knock asking to be let in.
Whether your cancer is contained and can be easily controlled, or if you are in the throws of your life's worst nightmare, it is so important when scheduling your new life's appointments, to write yourself in at the top. Make sure that you don't lose you.
Open The Door And Let The Dogs In!
Several years ago I was in the waiting room at the radiation department at a hospital while a relative was going through treatment. I grabbed a cup of coffee and walked around for a minute to stretch my legs when all of a sudden the atmosphere changed in the room. Two women had just walked through the door from the street and one of them was holding a leash with a beautiful, freshly-groomed white standard poodle at the other end. The dog stopped when they did and stood stately and obedient by the handler's side. It was not bothered by the sound of traffic nor by my presence. It had been well-trained for it's mission.
Since I'm a dog lover I took the opportunity to say hello. One of women was a dog trainer and the other was the actual owner of that lovely dog. They were from a local organization that trained dogs for pet therapy, and were there that day to comfort a child who was having treatment. I know the dog made a difference for the child that day, because from the moment that beautiful creature entered the room, it brought with it the feeling of life. A feeling so warm and normal it moved me to tears.
Tell Trauma Goodbye
Over the years, experts in psychology have realized that going through cancer causes post traumatic stress disorder. The trauma destabilizes life routines that are good for us. But you can get back on track with a little effort and good communication.
Sometimes isolation comes when close friends back off because they are afraid. This can really hurt, and if this happens to you, know that it is not your fault. Because of your experience they are being reminded of their own mortality. Invite them for a talk so that you can open up honest discussion about both of your feelings. Hopefully, that will help your friend know more about what you are going though, so that the relationship can get back on track.
Support - Have It Your Way
A local cancer support group might be an option to help you through this transition. If you are young, you might want to start your own unique support group. You never know how many others you can help while helping yourself.
On the other hand, support groups may not be your thing. Various clubs like senior citizen centers have game days that you can be a part of so that you can stay social. If you are finding it hard to keep up, maybe you could adjust your outings with friends to just once a month for a while. Invite the gang over, or just your one best friend for movie night. Just be sure to tell them in advance that you will need to cut the night shorter than before. They will understand, and will appreciate you letting them know.
You may have to rearrange and even cut things from your calendar, but stay engaged in life. After surgery and treatments, you are different. But that doesn't mean you just disappear and no longer exist. You are still a valuable person, needed (and missed when you're not there) by those who love you. And one of those people, is you.