New Roles in Life After Cancer

Article

Raising awareness for cancer survivors is important, and I try to do just that.

cartoon drawing of cancer survivor and blogger, Tamera-Anderson-Hanna

Cancer survivorship has come full circle. I was diagnosed with breast cancer over 8 years ago and since then my family has seen others diagnosed with prostate cancer and stomach cancer (GIST). While living with and overcoming cancer, I became a yoga teacher to help me heal and support mind/body wellness. I have been grateful for that role. I went on to offer free oncology yoga for fellow survivors of cancer from 2016 up until December of 2022 after my own healing.

I am continuing to live happily post breast cancer and I am grateful to enjoy my family and the continued news that my husband and other family members are also living well beyond cancer. My goals related to my employment are now changing, however. I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and I have gone on to train in EMDR which is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. EMDR can be extremely helpful when working with individuals who feel a sense of trauma, or stress as a result of cancer related procedures and ongoing testing. I have completed the required training in EMDR, but I am currently planning to continue to become certified in EMDR, which is a voluntarily added step beyond the initial training to offer EMDR to clients seeking psychotherapy. Being certified means I will have exceeded the general standards of just completing training in EMDR and I plan to do more work to help individuals with PTSD who are finding it difficult to cope with various traumas.

I continue to teach yoga and while I currently do not specifically offer a regular ongoing yoga 4 cancer class, I do plan to return to offering groups in the future, but once I retire from my current full-time position as a therapist and have more time to pursue my interests and things that motivate me to give back to the oncology field and fellow survivors. In my free time now, however, I spend time working privately with a limited number of clients seeking psychotherapy for chronic illness and to help cope with a sense of loss and feelings of depression or anxiety. I am building upon my skills in EMDR to help specialize in the field as a therapist who can help individuals with cancer as well as other illnesses or medical conditions among other populations. This will be rewarding, as I will only work part-time upon retirement, but it will provide me with a sense of gratitude to give back to a community I can relate to.

Unfortunately, I was not asked about any needs for my mental health when coping with cancer. I thought it was due to the fact that my oncology team was aware of me being a therapist so I could seek resources based on my own awareness of resources in the field, but I encourage others not to overlook the benefit of mental health counseling and support groups when coping with cancer. Mental health counseling should be a part of your care when assigned to a comprehensive oncology team. As I learned myself, self-care is important when coping with and recovering from cancer as someone who has been diagnosed or as a family member of someone who has been diagnosed.

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