It's OK to Cut Yourself Some Slack When Dealing With Cancer

November 14, 2020
Jane Biehl Ph.D.
Jane Biehl Ph.D.

Jane is a ten-year survivor of a very rare form of cancer Myelodysplastic Syndrome. She has enjoyed several exciting careers including a librarian, counselor, teacher, and writer. She loves to write about surviving cancer, overcoming hearing loss, and her hearing ear service dog, Sita.

A cancer survivor talks about how to cut yourself some slack during these eventful and troubled times.

It is amazing how much the coronavirus has changed our lives and routines, even for us retired people. I wake up in the morning feeling a weariness that is unusual for me. I know how fortunate I am because I have a roof over my head, enough food to eat and have not lost any loved ones to this horrible pandemic, but I am facing another typical COVID day. I sleep in because I go to bed very late. I meet friends outside and socially distant. I work on my writing, do some laundry, answer e-mails and conduct other boring chores. Before I go to bed, I watch several hours of television and then berate myself for sitting there wasting time and doing nothing.

I am going outside now to eat with friends, but with winter approaching, this will change. After doing my writing, correspondence and other duties, I found myself beating myself up for wasting time and not getting more done. There is always more to do, more writing, more letters to friends and family, more routines around the house, more cleaning—well you get the gist.

One day I finally had an epiphany. I stopped and said to myself – “WAIT A MINUTE! CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK!”

Every one of us around the world is being impacted by a horrible pandemic that no one knows how to stop. Those of us who are immune-compromised are constantly afraid of our bodies picking up a serious infection for us from a routine trip to the grocery store. We are experiencing one of the most contentious elections and aftermath in our country’s history. Horrible stories of social injustice and racial inequality are placed across our screens every night.

Add to this the fact that many of us are in treatments for our cancer. I go to the hospital and lab two days a week for blood work and shots, with the fear of picking up an infection at the medical facilities. This does not include other appointments with the dentists, and other specialists besides our oncologists. Some cancer survivors have daily, weekly and monthly radiation or chemo or transfusions. These treatments can result in unrelenting fatigue and frustrating side effects.

In some climates, the winter is threatening to drive us inside and other areas are being pummeled by hurricanes and wildfires.I have not even begun to address other personal problems each of us face including financial problems, emotional distress, and the constant uncertainty about our future.

So, what if I am spending hours reading, relaxing and watching television? That is my way of coping. I don’t need to feel guilty and appreciate that I am at least getting up and dressed every morning.We are all putting one foot in front of the other. So we need to lay back, enjoy ourselves with watching mindless Hallmark movies or playing games on our phones - and cut ourselves some slack.We need to do these activities to keep sane, and even deserve it!

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