I attended a workshop taught by Shera Dubitsky, formerly a senior advisor to Sharsheret, a national not-for-profit organization supporting young Jewish women and their families facing breast cancer. She called her presentation, "Never Metaphor I Didn't Like." Honestly, when I signed up to attend, I had no idea what to expect. I am very much a "black and white" kind of person and am not particularly creative ... I don't often see in metaphors.

The power of metaphors

The workshop was a lot of fun. It was held at our local Cancer Support Communities (CSC) clubhouse. If you have some free time, you should check out whether there is a CSC near you. I have only recently begun attending some of their activities; I wish I had made myself go sooner.

Shera's presentation was designed to give us metaphors to use as coping strategies when the stresses of cancer become too much. If you ever have an opportunity to hear her speak, go! She's an excellent presenter and we laughed all through her workshop.

So, let's look at a couple of the metaphors that might help make your journey less stressful.

Navigating our cancer

Do you have a navigation system in your car? You know, the one with a woman who says in an exasperated voice, "Recalculating," when you are unable to follow her directions?

How many times have you gotten into your car without first looking to see what route you are going to take, just trusting your electronic navigator to help you find your way? It's all fine and good until you reach a roadblock and you have to go down a street that Ms Navigator hasn't planned for you. And, I don't know what your experience is, but this usually happens to me when I am in the scariest part of town, by myself, at night. Lost. It can be frightening, to say the least.

Recalulating our route

Similarly, our cancer journey is full of unforeseen twists and turns that frighten us. Fear of the unknown is terrifying. But, remember, this is not the first time you have had to recalculate. When you got your diagnosis, you faced a major recalculation. It was very, very scary to learn that cancer had invaded our lives. But, we made adjustments, we recalculated, and we continued living, albeit on a different route and certainly not one any of us would choose.

Shera suggests that when fear starts controlling us we should remember our navigation system. We may not know exactly where we are going at the moment, but this is not the first time we have faced an uncertain destination. With a little help, we recalculated. And then we continued on with our journey. We might be taking a different route than we planned, but we're still moving forward.

Sealing my fears into a cardboard box

I guess the metaphor I use the most is a cardboard box. Do you see it? It is over there in the corner.

When I start to fret, I take those Worry monsters and toss them in that cardboard box. Then, I tape it up, good and tight, so that they cannot escape. Now, I am free to continue living, my fears safely boxed away.

What about you? Are there metaphors that you use to help control the inevitable fears and anxieties your cancer diagnosis brings? Shera suggests finding a picture of your favorite metaphor and placing it somewhere you can easily find it (the back of your phone, for instance ... or maybe as your screen saver). When your worries start to get the better of you, glance at your picture and remember - You. Can. Do. This!

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