Thought Control: Can Anything Take My Mind Off Cancer?
Stephanie J. Hammonds
Editor’s Note: This piece was submitted by a contributing writer and does not represent the views of CURE Media Group.
During or after treatment, thoughts of cancer loom high in my mind. Just when I think I have it under control, it pops back up again. It’s sort of walking around with a cloud over my head; not necessarily a dismal rain cloud, but a cloud nevertheless. There are days and weeks I don’t go for infusions or even tests, but the thought is still there. There are times that any old ache and pain can make me think of it, and so does the odd upset stomach, a reaction to a new skin cream or soap or when a slightly “off” day comes along.
Why is this? I ask myself. Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was on a steady, even keel. Now I’m rocking way too much. What happened?
Listening to others in my shoes and reading about other patients’ feelings, I found that I’m not alone in this thinking. Cancer is a strange ominous being that has the ability to control what we think or feel even when we don’t want to, and, many times, has the ability to take the joy out of life. It upsets me to think that even in a stable period, I’m still suffering just thinking about cancer. My challenge was and is to push it out of my mind in any way possible-- to back up, and go in the opposite direction.
For me, that means staying true to what makes me super happy, lifts my spirits and doesn’t allow me to sink into those anxiety-inducing cancer “thoughts.” My lifelong hobbies of artwork, music, dolls, toys and writing help me every hour and every day. I love to write cards and letters, listen to music and keep up with drawing, paper dolls and floral painting. Submitting magazine articles, reading, studying British history, sketching and watercolors keep my mind completely immersed in pleasantry with no room there for scary old cancer.
Cancer tries to control my thoughts, but I’m determined not to let it. Yes, it’s a serious challenge that is as tough as the disease itself. I don’t win this race every minute. It pushes towards me and tends to creep in; it’s a very tough adversary. But, with my hobbies, interests and first loves, the things that make me who I really am, is where my ammunition lies. I've been an artist all my life and will continue to be. As long as I stay immersed in what I really, truly, enjoy, I will try to control what I’m able to: my happiness.