New Year's Resolutions From Cancerland

December 31, 2017

Five simple, doable resolutions for the New Year from a breast cancer and melanoma survivor.

Hey, I am still here!

Seven and a half years after breast cancer and four years after my melanoma. I am deeply grateful to be here. There has been sadness and loss — 2017 was not one of my better years. There has been chemo brain, fatigue, arthritis, the death of my mom, a move, recovery from a broken foot … and I am still here. I like to think about New Year’s resolutions this time of year. I think it is positive to look forward and make a plan. What about you? As a clutter clearing speaker-author, I try to make my resolutions fewer, simpler and more doable each year. Here are mine:

Reduce my self-beating. This has been hard-wired into many of us and we can work on it. Life is short. Cancer survivors know this, but still some of us say those “not good enough” critical words to ourselves regularly. After my first cancer diagnosis, I make more effort to let go of the guilt or worry that somehow I caused the cancer too. Recently, I tested positive for a genetic defect related to cancer called PALB2. Self-beating is hurtful and unproductive. If I wouldn’t wish it on a friend, why did I do this to myself?

Release the past. I can’t change it. It is time to forgive others and forgive myself and live in the present. If something can be fixed by a conversation or actual reparation, I try to do it. It truly makes more sense to look forward rather than backwards. What would we tell a friend? “Learn from it and move on.”

Give to others. Help. Cancer encouraged me to be extremely self-focused. Now is the time to give — to look outward and around and to help where I can. An interim pastor at our church once summed up Christian teachings to four short sentences: “Love God. Serve God. Love your neighbor. Serve your neighbor.” I have hung onto those words for years.

Resolve to take care of yourself. Physically and mentally. Work toward healthy eating and joyful movement. Be gentle with yourself. Cancer creates scanxiety and worrisome thoughts. Physical symptoms, even small temporary ones can create lots of stress and worry about the unknown. Is the cancer back? Be kind to yourself and promptly see your doctor and resolve those worries when they happen. Don’t let them eat away at your life joy.

Practice gratitude. Every day, mentally choose three things to be grateful for. Don’t overthink this. Write it down if you choose. Cultivate this habit daily and you will find yourself happier.

Five important resolutions are more important than a page of little ones. I will not make a longer list. Five is plenty. Frankly, I wouldn’t remember more items anyway. I will keep it simple. Resolutions are easier to accomplish if kept simple, measurable and doable. Now I will lift my head and move forward. What resolutions will you make for 2018?


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