10 Ways to Cut Yourself Some Slack
Give Yourself Permission To Recover During Treatment
By Pam Stephan, About.com Guide
Updated April 01, 2009
Any type of treatment you have for breast cancer can wreck havoc on your schedule. Going to treatment sessions, having additional tests, and keeping track of the paperwork makes dealing with cancer like having a part-time job! Meanwhile, you may still be working, taking care of your family, and keeping up other commitments as well. You need a break -– no, make that several breaks! Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to take special care of yourself. Here are some suggestions, several of which came out of my breast cancer support group.
While in treatment and recovery, give yourself permission to:
1. Just Say No
Saying "No" may make you feel guilty. You may be one of those people that gets asked to chair a committee, give a baby shower, or go out on the town. Perhaps you want to do all these things, but it's crucial to save your energy. Just say no to anything or anybody that will use up strength you need to cope with treatments, side effects, checkups, and recovery. You'll feel better if you rest and take good care of yourself.
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2. Take Snooze Breaks
Take naps when fatigue hits. Set up a space for napping with comfortable pillows and covers. If you like, make a sign for the door that says: "Executive Nap In Progress - Do Not Disturb!" Try playing meditation tapes or soothing music to block out distracting sounds. Take that stuffed toy that someone special gave you and curl up for a rest. Let fatigue float past, while giving your body and spirit time to recover.
Maintain a healthy diet and let someone else cook. During treatment, eat the best diet you can. Go ahead and raid the health food store for organic choices, and be sure to check out their freezer for prepared meals. Remember to go easy on red meat and potatoes, but load up on cruciferous veggies, fruits, juices, legumes, and fish. Drink plenty of sugar-free fluids, and stay well-hydrated.
4. Get Away
Take a day or evening off and do something really enjoyable. Visit a spa, a garden, or take in a concert. Going for a weekend trip, even to a local hotel can lift your spirits. Sometimes a change of scenery or a visit with friends and family can make a nice change. It's a nice way to focus on nature, people you love, or places you enjoy, rather than thinking about your treatments.
5. Be Real
Just be sick without pretending you're actually fine. Summon your support people, hand over your usual chores, and go lie down. If you place few demands on your body during recovery from treatments, your inner resources will have a better chance to recoup and repair your body. You will feel better, and the folks who keep offering to help get a chance to step in and take care of you.
6. Ask For It
Ask for help with laundry, housekeeping, and driving. It may be hard to ask, but people really do want to help you. Laundry can go home with Louise, housekeeping can be done by Harry, and Doug or Diane can do your driving. Greta can shop for the groceries and pick up a movie or library books for you, too. If you have neutropenia, you don't need to be out in crowds anyway. Get a strong friend to do the heavy lifting and gardening. Your job is to fight cancer and recover. But your friends may need you to ask them to do this, or they might not know that it's just that simple to help out. Go ahead -- ask for it.
7. Go With The Flow
Cry when you feel like it with or without a sympathetic shoulder. Get out the tissues and go ahead and let the tears flow. It can be cathartic and renewing to have a good cry. Maybe you've been the strong one thus far. But if you're dealing with cancer, you may have thoughts and emotions that just naturally overwhelm you. If your best buddy or a good sympathetic person is nearby, let them comfort you. It's a good release for both of you.
8. Keep Good Vibes
Avoid negative people and situations –- now and after you finish treatment! You know who I mean: the people with breast cancer horror stories, the ones that say, "My cousin just passed away from that last week." Let those attitudes and lack of sensitivity stay with them; don't absorb their negative vibes. Either let loose with some good snappy comebacks or your own, or develop selective deafness. Better yet, appoint someone else to answer your door and screen your calls, admitting only those you choose to interact with.
9. Party On
Celebrate small victories, and rejoice when you have a good day. If your blood counts are close to normal, if your appetite is good, or your energy levels are bouncing back, celebrate! When you get any kind of good news, rejoice. Share your good news with family, friends, and supporters. Enjoy every day that you feel well.
10. Feel The Love
Show love to those whom you truly love. Be willing to receive love from those who care for you. If there's someone that you care for, but have never told him how much you love him, don't hold back. Say those special words now. Write that letter, put together a scrapbook, place that phone call. Tell them, show them, love them now. Make every day count.