Living with Cancer: A Guest Post by Scott Sanders

Living with Cancer: Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness During This Difficult Time

 

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If you are facing a cancer diagnosis, you want to do everything in your power to improve your chances of getting out alive. We all know the typical avenues available for cancer treatment: surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, etc. What some people may not consider is how self-care and spiritual wellness factor into a person’s successful recovery. In fact, a recent study containing data on more than 44,000 cancer patients found a connection between those with high levels of self-reported spiritual belief and a reduction of treatment symptoms as well feelings of anxiety and depression.

People who are in tune with their spiritual side and practice self-care are better able at getting through cancer treatment and improve their odds of recovering completely. Below we’ve highlighted need-to-know information about these topics along with suggestions on how to use spirituality and self-care when facing the difficulties of cancer.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is a term a lot of people associate with millennials doing face masks, but for the cancer patient, it is so much more than that. For a person battling the disease, self-care is putting yourself first so your body, mind, and spirit are supported through this difficult time. Self-care with cancer is taking the time to slow down and really work the things we typically take for granted– things like consuming a healthy diet, a full night’s rest, and even the simple feeling of a good stretch.

Tapping into Spirituality

A lot of people already live a spiritual life through their religion. However, one does not need to prescribe to a particular set of beliefs to tap into their spirituality. There are simple things a person can do in order to explore that side of themselves. First, you must recognize a desire to connect with something greater than yourself. How you define what that “greater being” is remains in your control. However, doing the following can help you explore even further:

  • Set an intention. It can be as simple as you want, as long as it is honest.
  • Feed your mind by reading books about spirituality.
  • Try practicing meditation.
  • Play! Don’t forget to have a good time.
  • Start paying attention to the things happening around you.
  • Spend time with the people that make up your support system.
  • Experiment– go to a church service, try a new yoga class, do things that get you out of your comfort zone so you can learn something new.

Supporting the Spirit with Physical Self-Care

Beyond exploring the mental and emotional aspects of your spiritual self, it is important to tap into the powers of your body. There are various physical activities that allow us to better explore the world and the greater self. Not only will these tips help you tap into your spiritual side, but they will support the body as it works to heal itself before, during, and after cancer treatment.

  • Don’t neglect to exercise. While you most likely do not have the energy to be running marathons, it’s important to get in at least some gentle physical activity daily. Exercise releases feel-good neurotransmitters into the brain to promote positive emotions and prevent feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • When going through treatment, your doctor may prescribe drugs with addiction risks– medications including opioids. If you take these medications, be sure to do so only as prescribed by a doctor. Talk with your loved ones about going on these drugs and ask for help when it comes to monitoring your dosage. Practicing safe pain management can prevent lifelong problems with addiction.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Your body needs rest and relaxation in order to recover from your cancer treatment. Practice good sleep hygiene and prioritize rest over other things in your life.

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A cancer diagnosis is terrifying, but those who forgo fear in order to tap into their spiritual side and explore larger concepts in the world tend to do better with difficult symptoms. Self-care and spirituality often go hand-in-hand. Practices we do to tap into our spiritual side are often the same things we do for self-care. Beyond exploring the spiritual and mental, it is important to take care of the body and support it for a better recovery.

Scott Sanders
Author and Creator of cancerwell.org

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