I Was Shocked by My Cancer Diagnosis
January 26, 2017 – Barbara Tako
Cancer and Minimalism
January 25, 2017 – Stacie Chevrier
Living With Cancer: The Deafening Silence Between Checkups
January 24, 2017 – Khevin Barnes
Coping With Cancer: One Size Does Not Fit All
January 23, 2017 – Stephanie Hammonds
Not Everything Is Cancer (and That Helps)
January 20, 2017 – Barbara Tako
Diagnosis: Metastatic
January 19, 2017 – Martha Carlson
Mastering the Art of Living Uncertainly With Cancer
January 18, 2017 – Lisa Machado
The ABCs of Surviving Cancer
January 18, 2017 – Khevin Barnes
Exercise: The Best Weapon Against Post-Cancer Fatigue
January 18, 2017 – Bonnie Annis
The Art of Acceptance After Cancer
January 16, 2017 – Dana Stewart

Coping with Cancer Worry and Life

Breast cancer and melanoma survivor shares coping tools that help her.
PUBLISHED January 09, 2017
Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools–We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
Even before cancer survivorship, I think I had – and still have – a heart prone to angst and a mind prone to worry. When I ponder where this came from, I recall childhood images of seeing my dad sighing or stomping his feet while sitting in his chair in my childhood living room, or me in my childhood bed having panic attacks without knowing that is what they were even called.

At this point in life, the origin may be mostly irrelevant. When I feel angst, I try to mentally repeat something my long-time friend Laura taught me: Sometimes everything is OK. Sometimes everything is OK. Sometimes everything is OK. It is a truth. It doesn’t say everything is wonderful or perfect. It says, yes, there are moments, regardless of how I may feel and regardless of what worrisome thoughts may pop into my head, when everything is OK. The sky isn’t falling in that moment.

Sometimes my feelings, my poor weary feelings, want to convince me that things are worse than they really are. God bless Laura for handing me a rope to grab under those circumstances. Sometimes everything is OK. Feelings are just feelings.

Over the years, I have learned there are other ropes available for me to grab. Healthy eating: This helps me to not mess up my blood sugar with sugar bursts and crashes. Healthy movement: This provides an outlet for energy and then a calming centeredness afterwards. Mindfulness meditation: This was taught to me by my oncology psychotherapist to help me slow and calm my frightening thoughts that wanted to run rampant in my mind during cancer treatment. I learned to pick a sense and spend several minutes focusing just on the input from that sense instead of letting my thoughts just jump around monkey-brain style.

All of these tools are helpful. Frankly, they help me and they also help me from “acting out” and being difficult to the people around me, the people I love. I wish I had learned some of these tools sooner. I am in my 50s. I don’t feel old. I don’t feel mature.

My 84-year-old mom says she feels about 19. When I look into my aging dog’s eyes, I still see the puppy inside. To me, these observations are worrisome. They are testimony to the reality that we don’t become magically ready to age or to suffer tragedy or even to die when the time comes.

It would be magical thinking to think I will some day feel magically ready for life. The time to work on life coping skills is now, especially as a cancer survivor. The time to increase the tools or ropes available to me and to use them when I need them is now. What ropes do you grab when life is difficult? Please share. We can all help each other and learn from each other that way. 
Be the first to discuss this article on CURE's forum. >>
Talk about this article with other patients, caregivers, and advocates in the Breast Cancer CURE discussion group.

Related Articles


Sign In

Not a member? Sign up now!

Sign Up

Are you a member? Please Log In