Before cancer survivorship, I know I was more selfish, and I was definitely more selfish and self-focused when I was newly diagnosed. At almost nine years since my first diagnosis, I am not perfect now by any means, but I work to do better. My suggestion to fellow survivors and their loved ones is to be kinder, – especially with a cancer diagnosis. We as humans run around pretty clueless about those around us a lot of the time. In our hurry and our busyness and our me-me-me-ness, we forget how far a little compassion, kindness and gentleness can go.
Be gentle and kind to yourself. I know I have said that many times before, but I really can't say it enough. If you are a cancer patient, survivor or loved one, you have been through a huge event that is going to go on and on. The sky is falling. Now is the time to slow down and be kinder to yourself. Take a breath. Take a nap. Take time to call someone close to you who is willing to listen to you and to support you through this life-changing event.
Be gentle to your loved ones. They have their own struggles. Plus, they are worried about you. It is sometimes easier to be kind to strangers and to neglect the people who are close to us. Remind yourself daily not to do that. "How are you feeling?" "What are you thinking about?" "How was your day?" can go a long way to maintain connectedness and be less self-focused – yes, even through a cancer diagnosis.
Be kind to strangers. When was the last time you complimented a stranger? Not to mention say simple words like “sorry,” “please” and “thank you!” We definitely don't know the pain that strangers are carrying around in their own hearts. Slow down your interactions and be nice!
How do you want to be treated? Are you swamped with worry? The article "How kindness can make a difference in cancer care" is something that we as cancer survivors can agree with and learn to practice too. Have you been the recipient of kindness from strangers? "When Cancer Invites Random Acts of Kindness" shows what sometimes happens, but why not turn the tables? Don't wait. Be kind.
Where will your cancer diagnosis lead you? Are you wondering if you will survive or how long you will survive? Cancerland is a frightening place to be for days, weeks, months and yes, even years. Turn that worry into something positive; reach out and be kind today and every day forward. Tell people today why you are grateful they are in your life and why you appreciate them. The perfect moment to share those things will never arrive unless we choose to make it happen. I know that cancer is a diagnosis that can make you feel like the sky is falling. Still there are moments, maybe just brief ones right now, where everything is OK. Even cancer is not a five-alarm crisis all the time. Cling to the calm moments, be gentle with yourself and remember to reach out with kindness.