AFTER CANCER: HANDLES FOR NEW LIFE.

What emotions you have is less important than what you do with them.

Strong emotions are not a problem unless they keep you from doing the right things. They are your body’s communication system for letting you know how you are doing and what you need to work on. Instead of worrying about the fact that you are so fearful, spend your energy exploring the source of your fears and ways to tame them. If you are angry, discover the source of your anger and find ways to dissipate or resolve your anger.

No matter what you are feeling, do the right thing.

A fireman is a professional who learns to brave flames and save burning victims, no matter what fear of flames or revulsion at burning flesh he or she feels. You can learn how to be a professional survivor, doing the right thing to prevent and stave off problems, no matter what you are feeling. Do the right thing for your overall health, no matter how you look or feel doing it. If you cannot, because of fear, emotions, or uncertainty about what the right thing is, get help.

Recovery after cancer is a family affair.

The cancer experience happened to you and everyone around you. Recovery, too, is a family affair. Despite the relief that your treatment is over, everyone has heightened anxiety and worry. Roles change, feelings are unleashed, and new problems surface. You will help yourself by being tuned in to those around you. Illness and recovery do not release you from the need to be sensitive to those around you, as much as you can.

Focus on what you can do to help your recovery
and maintain your renewed health.

There are many things you can do to facilitate your recovery and preserve your renewed health. Instead of worrying about bad things that could happen or things you cannot control, focus on realistic ways to strengthen your physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Efforts toward progress, no matter how small, are life enhancing.

Worrying about your past or your future poisons your present.

Regretting or worrying about what you did, what you did not do, and what you could have done is a waste of time, energy, and emotion. You can never change the past. If you find yourself ruminating on the past, train yourself to focus on what you can do now to improve your health and enrich your life emotionally and spiritually.

Worrying about your future is also a waste of time, energy, and emotion. You may be worrying about a problem that will never materialize, in which case a nonexistent problem is causing you distress. Worrying now will not help you get through a situation that does develop in the future; it just prolongs and deepens the pain caused by the problem. You do not have to be free of all anxiety about your future before you can enjoy your present. Whenever you feel that you are living in a never-never land of “wait and see,” try to think of yourself as surviving in the land of “live and see.”

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