We all deserve a vacation from our cancer. It's a long, often grueling road we're on, and quite naturally it can be overwhelming sometimes. Stress is a slow-burning fire. It seems to reside somewhere in our solar plexus, stirring our intestines and roughing up those butterflies that flutter about inside of us.
So it's only natural that we get sick and tired of being sick and tired at times. But how we deal with the anxiety of cancer is perhaps just as important as how we manage the clinical side of our disease. After all, it is what we actually feel and emotionally process each day that creates our "happy thoughts" bathed in endorphins, or our negative reactions, along with the accompanying stress hormones like Cortisol.
We don't have to be chemists to understand how our bodies, and possibly our cancer, react to the mental exhaustion that can go along with our quest for health and healing.
What to do?
Various therapists and cancer caregivers might suggest that we read a good book, go for a walk, listen to some relaxing music, write in a journal, watch a comedy movie and much more. And all of these ideas are great. These are positive methods of relaxation, but none of them address the fear and/or anxiety a cancer survivor is experiencing head on.
Perhaps you've heard the phrase "what you resist, persists". I know this to be true in my life as I have always been a "light chaser", one who looks for new, positive experiences. "But what's wrong with that?" you might ask. The only downside to that approach is that only by acknowledging pain and suffering can we address it. Pushing away the downside of cancer simply covers it up for a while, but deep inside our subconscious selves, the discomfort and stress still loiters.
I've learned to say "thank you" to my cancer every day for helping me to understand that my hardships are part of my life, and while all of the traditional methods of relaxation are highly useful, there is one way to re-energize myself that I have found to be more rewarding than any other.
The basic idea I've discovered is "Don't run from my cancer burnout, but re-direct it." In other words, when I get involved with someone else's quest for healing, my own stress and negativity are diluted in a way, and I stop the adverse spinning.
It's a simple solution, but often, simple is better.
There are many folks all around us who have some form of cancer in their lives. My wife and I were both trained and certified as Laughter Yoga teachers more than a decade ago, and since that time we have offered free Laughter Yoga classes. Seniors seem to benefit greatly from a daily laughter program, and for a number of years I hosted a weekly over-the-phone Laughter call, specifically for cancer survivors.
What can you offer? I believe that everybody has something special to contribute to the pool of breast cancer survivorship. And it doesn't need to be anything that might make the front page of your local paper. In fact, the best gifts we have to share very often go unnoticed. And those are the greatest gifts of all.
Drive someone to their doctor's office, make a pot of soup, have a meaningful conversation, organize their medications, go see a good movie, write them a letter, etc. There are endless ways to get involved in the community, and in doing so, you're likely to not only feel re-energized in your own cancer campaign, but you'll be offering an invaluable and compassionate service to those who can benefit from that wisdom you've gained in your own personal cancer experience.
Why not turn "sick and tired" into "alive and inspired?"