Life with cancer_ The Importance of Finding Comfort in Self-Care and Spiritual Well-Being

Written by, Scott Sanders

Life with cancer: The Importance of Finding Comfort in Self-Care and Spiritual Well-Being

Cancer -- how can two syllables be so powerful? That’s just one of the questions racing through the minds of the nearly 13 million newly diagnosed patients every year. Cancer affects so many, yet if you are dealing with your own diagnosis you may feel helpless and alone. Whether you are just beginning treatment or have been struggling for some time, one of the most meaningful things you can do right now is to stay positive and care for yourself. Here are a few words of advice to help you along the way:

Find hope where you can, when you can

You’ve probably heard this so many times already, but if you can find hope, you have a better chance of finding some semblance of peace during this difficult time. Practiced oncologists will tell you that hope and faith can make a difference for their patients. You may find it comforting to turn to faith as a means of comfort, or perhaps you place your trust in the science helping to keep you alive. A healthy mix of these external and internal forms of hope can help make your journey a bit less jaded and keep your spirits up. Still, there will be times when hope just isn’t enough. What should you do then?

It’s OK to feel, well, not OK

Countless articles, including this one, will implore you to keep your spirits up in the face of cancer. While hope and positivity can indeed improve your outlook, there will be times when your optimism will wane. This is completely normal and completely OK. Your emotions may change with each passing day, or each passing hour. Acknowledge these feelings in some way. Talk to other survivors or to your cancer care team. Try journaling or writing about your feelings. If all of this fails to help, never be ashamed to ask for professional guidance to sort through your emotions. Of course, there will be times when you simply need a distraction from your thoughts. How can you accomplish this?

Have compassion and care for yourself

Finding happiness when you have cancer sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s more important now than ever to find time to enjoy pursuits that you enjoy. Now may be a good time to take up a meditation or gentle yoga practice to help center your thoughts. If you are able, travel can provide mental and spiritual clarity during stressful times, and can be a boost to your overall well-being. Find your own way to practice self-care and make it a part of your normal routine.

Still, you may find yourself in need of ways to manage the physical pains. Cancer is one of the most common sources of chronic pain, which can make it hard to truly relax and care for yourself. Your health care team may prescribe opioids to help ease your symptoms. Take these medications, and any medications or supplements, only as directed but know that addiction can still occur. Know the warning signs and risks for addiction, and seek help if you think you may have a problem with these medications.

Cancer can cast a shadow over so many aspects of your life, leaving you feeling like you have lost control. You can take some of that control back, however, by taking steps to improve your spiritual well-being and practice self-care. Nourish your soul, quiet your mind, and find as many moments of hope and optimism as you can. Finding time to do so can help you find peace within yourself and peace with whatever may come.