Tips for Coping With Cancer: Make a "Grateful" List

Sometimes patients with cancer need to adjust their thinking to change how they view their disease

In 2013, the website Moments A Day posted a lovely list to help moms remember why they’re grateful for the irritations in their life. It’s a great example of recognizing that how we choose to think about events can make a difference in how we view life.

Patients with cancer occasionally need similar reminders. Some days we may have difficulty seeing the upside of anything, especially when in active treatment, experiencing unpleasant side effects or facing cancer progression. On such days, we need to be creative and write a list unique to our own values. For instance, here are some things on my list:

  • Daily trips to cancer clinic = outdoor scenery to appreciate
  • Stuck on the sofa achy and exhausted = pet snuggles and science fiction movies
  • Sleeping 12 hours daily = justification to ignore housework
  • Unsteady gait = early boarding at airport
  • Chemobrain symptoms = entertaining new word combinations
  • Friends talking about activities I used to do = motivation to walk or exercise more
  • One more clinical trial = time to help my autistic son refine his independent living skills

What things are important to you? What can you still enjoy when you can’t do what you used to do?

If you can no longer can think of things to write on the right side of the equals sign, maybe it's time to talk seriously with family and health care professionals about depression, quality of life and what’s most important to you. Only you can decide what makes life worth living. Once you decide, tell your doctors as well as those you love. Let them help you achieve your goals.