Cancer is more prevalent than I ever realized. Since I went into remission, the number of people that have reached out to me for advice as to how to support their loved ones with recent diagnosis is truly staggering. Though I don't profess to be an expert in the field, I am happy to offer my insights, which evolved from a month alone in the hospital, and chemo two hours a day, five days a week for eight months. On the off chance it is of value to you, I'm sharing it all in a post today. Here's how I got through, how people made me feel supported, and what I learned in the process:
1. I moved my body whether I felt well or not. I moved because I wanted to feel better, instead of waiting-to-feel-better-to-move. There are so many amazing ways to do it, too. Simply stretching or walking both count in a really big way. If the goal is to feel and be healthy, it only makes sense to act accordingly. My favorite routine while I was at my sickest was following a yoga video (Out Of The Bed And Into The Body) immediately upon waking up each morning. There is SO much to be gained by showing up for yourself and actively honoring your physical body that I could probably write chapters and chapters in a book on the subject!
2. I kept a log of every single person that did something kind for me. I never felt alone despite being hospitalized during Covid because I could always refer to a list of kind souls and remember the feeling of being impacted by their actions. The list started getting long fast as my eyes adjusted to catch and remember smaller and smaller deeds. It’s interesting to get to know and even love people that are ultimately saving your life without ever seeing their faces. Somehow, my list keeps them close to me instead of just as a blur of uniformed humans that punctured my skin and interpreted beeps.
I also really liked to ask my healthcare heroes what inspired them to become nurses and doctors, too. There was just a special feeling I got when listening to people remember that carried a kind of healing magic of its own.
3. My cousins sent me a healing sherpa blanket that was covered in health affirming words. It was the single most impacting material gesture because it allowed me to be wrapped in positivity even when I was feeling defeated, pessimistic, or gloomy. It actually inspired one of the items for sale in my store and continues to be a go-to for me whenever my vibes get low.
4. Breathing. Breath is everything. Breath is life! When it comes to fear, pain, anxiety, doubt, and sadness, there is no better place to be than with your breath. My husband helped bring me back to life more than once by breathing into my ears when I was really, really suffering 😮💨 It’s something we can do for ourselves AND a tool to keep in our toolkits for helping others. Breath’ll get a person through anything — that’s just facts.
5. I have to double back to movement. It’s so important because it taught me that I can do hard things. It helped me see that there is always a kind of beauty to be had on the other side of discomfort. It made me lean in a little more to the treatment pain as I understood it was more than just part of the healing process… it was showing me how to make myself and my life better! Healing and improving are what hurts. So the more comfortable I am with being uncomfortable, the better! Chemo side effects are a kind of special initiation into that secret of living a full life.
6. There is peace in trust. The more I learned to LOVE WHAT IS taking place in any given moment, the better my life became and continues to become. Trust can be manufactured with breath, which was nice to figure out because it helped me accept painful treatments more gratefully, perhaps ultimately giving them more power.