Dana Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 at the age of 32. She is the co-founder of a cancer survivorship organization called The Dragonfly Angel Society. She volunteers as an advocate and mentor, focusing on young adults surviving cancer. She enjoys writing about life as a cancer survivor, as well as connecting survivors to the resources, inspirations and stories that have helped her continue to live her best life, available at www.dragonflyangelsociety.com.
Instead of fighting the roadblocks that cancer can prevent, what would happen if we embraced them?
Roadblocks always seem like one big annoyance, right? When you are driving and come across a roadblock, and your whole path has to change. It may add many more miles and time to your trip which can be quite frustrating. In some cases, it can completely throw your whole day off. Maybe you are working on your computer and suddenly the internet goes down. That's a tough roadblock to get over. There can be roadblocks with everything we have to do. With that being said, hearing about roadblocks makes more people cringe than smile. However, what if those roadblocks can be used to our advantage?
Let's talk cancer roadblocks. Some could argue that cancer is just one big roadblock from letting us carry on with our life journey. I'd say that is 100 percent correct. It's probably one of the biggest roadblocks you can face in life, as any major disease could be. Aside from the obvious cancer roadblocks, such as the diagnosis itself, the availability of treatment for the cancer you have, what your body can or can't tolerate, and length of treatment, there are quite a few other cancer roadblocks that as cancer patients, we can get a bit more control over. In fact, there may be some opportunities to embrace these roadblocks and use them to our advantage.
First, there are the emotional and mental roadblocks. From my own experience, I'd say these have been the major roadblocks for me over the years after my diagnosis. I refused to accept that cancer had changed my life. I accepted the diagnosis and treatment options. I was totally fine with it. What I was not OK with was my life after my treatment was done. The "new normal" was a huge roadblock. I wanted my old life back, plain and simple. With that being said, I never mourned my old life as all I did was try to crawl back to it. This mentality stopped me from moving forward with living my life. I feel that if I would have embraced who I had become as a cancer survivor, I might not have struggled as severely or as long as I did without acceptance.
Second, there are people roadblocks. These are the people in our lives, whether it is family, friends, work associates or acquaintances, who block us from moving to wherever we need to be in our lives. In some cases, these are the people that tell us we are making the wrong decisions with our treatment and love to say things like, "oh I'd never make that choice." They make us question everything we do and may stop us from pursuing the best options for ourselves. In this case, it is going to be hard to embrace what they are offering, which is totally acceptable. However, can we make the choice to embrace these roadblocks by acknowledging what they bring to our situation and make the conscious decision to look past their rhetoric do what is best for us? That's easier said than done, but just being cognizant of their words, acknowledging it and then just leaving it wherever suits us best is an option. What I mean is just because someone sells something or gives advice, that doesn't mean that it has to be completely followed. It's your life, your body and therefore your choices.
The last roadblock is ourselves. We really do have control of almost everything we do. We may not always have control of what happens to us, but we can certainly control just how we handle each situation. So, if we practice embracing our reactions to anything and everything, maybe we have a chance to avoid running smack dab into the roadblocks that we come across. Where there is a will, there is a way.
It's so easy to see all the roadblocks that cancer puts up. It's how we handle our reactions that may just get us over those humps. I have been fighting my cancer roadblocks for years, simply because I refused to open my eyes and see the detours. We can't control whether or not we get cancer, but we can control how to handle it, or at least put a few strategies in place to get through the tough times.