Be Kind to Yourself in Cancer Survivorship

I must remember to be kind to myself, and not compare my current abilities to my pre-cancer days.

One of the hardest acts for cancer survivors to do is to be kind to themselves. We need to realize how we are impacted by our own thoughts as well as read about the latest information and research about our various cancers.

A phrase that is probably overused these days is “be kind.” However, it is an important one. Our world is so full of violence that we have adapted this phrase to remember the importance of kindness. I remember so many times when I have been at my lowest and a kind word, a card, a text or even a gift has arrived to cheer me up. I try valiantly to help others with kind gestures too.

However, what we forget to do is to be kind to ourselves. Being a cancer survivor is hard under any circumstances. I never knew how hard it would be until I was diagnosed. Just this week, I lost another tooth, which makes a dozen teeth removed from this vicious disease.

We really do need to take care of ourselves. We must be kind to ourselves. Every one of us has been through a lot and that is why we call ourselves survivors, or thrivers or whatever phrase you wish.

I personally have a bad tendency to compare my pre-cancer activities to what I can do now and beat myself up. Does this really make sense? Would I ever do this to anyone else? The answer is a vehement “no.” When I was a counselor, I remember saying to my clients, “Would you ever say the horrible things to someone else you do to yourself?” Terrible thoughts like “I am lazy, I am unmotivated, I am ugly” and on and on. We would not, and we do not deserve that kind of abuse from ourselves.

Other people say this better than I do. A dear friend gave me a book titled “A Year of Positive Thinking” by Cyndie Spiegel.There were lots of wonderful quotes, but here are two of my favorites:

“Don’t forget to say ‘I’m sorry’ to yourself as much as you need to. The greatest forgiveness is the forgiveness you show yourself.”

“Jack Kornfield says it succinctly. ‘If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.’”

I have several friends who had cancer and some of them are no longer with us. Their inspiration, courage, caring for others and their humor amazed me. They reached out to others by being compassionate to themselves. They did not waste time beating themselves up but extended a hand and kind words to others. We need to love ourselves before we can love others.

Two simple words have a lot of meaning: be kind.


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