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Empowering Lessons and Lung Cancer

A cancer journey can be very difficult - often confusing and quite painful. This journey often comes with lots of tears. Sometimes the journey becomes life lessons. I have learned some really empowering lessons along the way.

People treat you different

People will absolutely treat you differently while on a cancer journey. I am not sure if they don’t know what to say or if they are just unsure of how you are feeling or what you are thinking. Sometimes treatment from close friends and family is just different and it’s ok.

Invest time in those who invest time back

Spend your time with those that are making time for you. The ones that keep the dialogue going and are actually invested and interested. It shouldn’t go unnoticed - those are YOUR people. You deserve enrichment from those in your corner. You are not a doormat when they need or want something from you. Their privilege of your goodness requires an expiration date that has likely already passed.

Self care is important

It’s ok to take some time for yourself for a change. Sometimes I look back at my years in higher education and when I was working so hard. My only worry was often an upcoming deadline or something to do with my work. I never was able to fully leave work at work. I often worried about things at home and thinking about solutions to things. I was running hard and fast and didn’t really truly take much time for myself. It was like I was in robot mode - constantly doing something else for someone else while simply trying to stay afloat forgetting about me. I think it’s imperative whether you are still working full-time or not to take some time for yourself - not when you are at the doctor or something that is demanded of you because of the journey, but just some moments to clear your mind and relax for a moment.

Growth is part of the journey

You aren’t the same person and it’s ok. This journey of cancer changes you. I like to think that it changes people for the better. We get to be in a place that allows us to embrace the good along the journey. The incredible perspective shift that we all get to experience and choose how we respond to it. We get to establish a newfound gratefulness that I personally didn’t have when I was in robot mode and work-life consumed me. We have added stresses and worry and fear that we never had before. We worry about every twinge and ache and fear it’s our cancer moving about. Some of us went from never going to the doctor to now feeling like it’s a second home. We just thought we didn’t like needles before, right? We literally have to fight hard and long whereas before we likely never thought about next year or even next month. Things can change so quickly and it’s truly life-changing and altering.

Show yourself love and kindness

Love yourself. Embrace the new you. Embrace your real and authentic self. If you don’t feel good today, go rest. If you are weary and sad and just want to sit in solitude and silence, you can. If you want to take a trip with your family, by all means, take the trip. If you want to go to the nicest restaurant for a meal, please do. If you don’t feel like going to the family gathering, you get to say no. If you don’t want to tend to the lawn or your home or make your bed, don’t. If you want to buy yourself a birthday cake from the local bakery just because you want cake, eat the cake. If someone or something is causing you stress or angst, let it go - you don’t have to deal with it.

Loving yourself isn’t selfish but absolutely necessary and all of these things are part of it. Self-love is a journey and the older I get, the more I start to better identify the things that really matter.

May we be good to ourselves

Cancer is complicated, to say the least. There’s so much to think about, to worry about, to talk about - it can consume us for sure. Although cancer changes us, it definitely doesn’t define us. My doctor says that he has many patients that say that cancer is the best thing that has ever happened to them just because of the perspective shift and the new way of thinking about life and embracing the good things in life and the good days.

May we all learn to give ourselves more grace and gratitude. May we also attempt to live simply and as best we can in a very complicated journey. May we be good to ourselves.

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