Powerful Ideas For A Successful Breast Cancer Healing Journal

WritingKeeping a JOURNAL during the process of healing is very important. I know many of you get scared of a blank page starring back at you or some of you might be thinking, “are you off your rocker?, I don’t want to remember this.” I imagine that you are having feelings and through ts that are at times overwhelming. I also imagine that your head is spinning in many directions at once. As a person in treatment you have entered a territory that you have never explored and you have already experienced a lot of trauma as a result. A JOURNAL becomes your friend, confident, and safe place.

  • A JOURNAL invites you to tell “it” all about whatever is going on inside of you.
  • You can tell your JOURNAL anything. If you choose a composition book instead of a pretty hard-back JOURNAL you can even tear out the pages that scare you when you re-read it.
  • Your JOURNAL becomes your witness to your life. Because of the personal trauma that is involved in treatment, there are going to be some days that become a blur and many details that you will not remember later. You may find yourself thinking three years from now, “what was the big deal?”
  • Your JOURNAL witnessed this very big deal and will recount it to you for years to come.
  • A JOURNAL is a way of witnessing and validating your strength, your courage, and your scary places.

Doctor Recommended Ideas For Breast Cancer JournalingHaving a diagnosis of breast cancer, is like you have been hit on the head with the window in the Wizard of Oz and have found yourself in a strange land where flying monkeys taunt you and a wicked witch wants your dog (intuition) and your red shoes(a symbol of your inner magic).
Writing every day, even if it is a one word entry such as “hopeless,” will help you keep track of your journey and provide you with stepping stones along the way. Here are some journal exercise examples:

  1. Feel free to just record a word every day for those of you who cannot imagine writing a whole page. Another way to get that blank page to warm up is to write letters. You can write letters to yourself, your God, your friends and family members.
  2. Letter writing in a JOURNAL is safe because you are never going to send it. You will not have to edit what you say. You can tell it like it is. If you think a friend has let you down in this process, journal that feeling out in a letter.
  3. If you think someone who you never expected has stepped up to the plate in wonderful ways, gush out your thanks and gratitude. Let your tears of gratitude flow.
  4. Whatever it is that you wish you could tell your friends or family about this journey but just can’t quite find the courage to tell them, write it in your JOURNAL.

Having a safe and private place to write your most intimate feelings is so important because so much is going through your head and clouding your heart right now. You are in survivor’s mode and the brain is not able to process it all. That is why your JOURNAL becomes your written record. A year after treatment, re-read it and you will be surprised how much you actually went through on this journey. If you have not ever journaled before now is a great time to start. If you are a regular journal writer, then make sure you keep it up at this time.

Dr. Robin DilleyDr. Robin B. Dilley, author of In A Moment’s Notice: A Psychologist’s Journey with Breast Cancer is a licensed psychologist in the State of Arizona. Her eclectic practice allows her to cross diagnostic barriers and meet clients in their need assisting them to respond to life in healthy and empowering ways rather than react to life’s circumstances.

Practicing Gratitude Can Improve Your Health, Mood and Spirit

Practicing Gratitude Can Improve Your Health, Mood and Spirit For Breast CancerBy Margot Malin, Founder and CEO of Lots To Live For, Inc.

Contemplate: What makes you thankful?
Focus on what you have by recording at least one positive thing in your life each day. Scientific research is increasingly demonstrating that practicing gratitude daily can cultivate noticeable ongoing mental and physical benefits.

A patient faced with a difficult health diagnosis frequently feels overwhelmed and anxious. She might feel as if she stepped into a foggy quagmire. One way she can begin to see a beam of light to help guide her out of this fog is to turn to the techniques introduced in positive psychology.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity better, and build stronger relationships. “The aim of Positive Psychology is to catalyze a change in psychology from a preoccupation only with repairing the worst things in life to also building the best qualities in life” writes Dr. Martin Seligman (often referred to as the pioneer of positive psychology).

Below are some simple ways to cultivate gratitude:

  1. Keep a gratitude journal
    Write down one to three things that you are thankful for each day. On the Lots To Live For, Inc. website we sell a Gratitude Note Pad to help you to conveniently and consistently record your thoughts. This Gratitude Note Pad is easily carried in a purse or portfolio.
    Hints: Avoid fixating on material items and do not dwell on things that you do not have. Spiritually refocus on what you do have.
  2. Meditate
    Practicing mindful meditation can help you focus on the present moment without judgment.
  3. Breathe
    Mindful breathing can help relax you and cultivate gratitude. We recommend the Breast Cancer Yoga CD Breathe With Purpose to get you started.
  4. Write a thank you note
    Studies have shown that the simple act of writing a sincere note of thanks to someone from our past or present can help us cultivate gratitude. Even better, share the note or send the letter to the person you are acknowledging.
  5. Pray (if religious)
  6. Practice Yoga
    Use your yoga practice as a moving meditation. Be present while on your mat and set an intention to reflect on the things that you are thankful for.
  7. Repeat an affirmation
    Affirmations are simple: you being in conscious control of your thoughts. They are short, powerful statements. When you say them, think them, or even hear them, they become the thoughts that create your reality.
    Here are examples of powerful affirmations: I am strong, I am healthy, I am grateful, I am thankful, I am evolving
  8. Show appreciation to people you interact with on a casual basis
    This can include co-workers, your bus driver, a hospitality worker, or a friendly soul with whom you have an incidental interaction as you go about your day.

In 2003 Dr. Emmons and Dr. McCullough reported the results of an important study on gratitude and well-being which separated individuals randomly into four groups who were asked to carry out different tasks. The results of the study found that those participants randomly assigned to the group who were instructed to write about things they were grateful for on a daily basis became the happiest and most optimistic when compared to 3 other groups performing different tasks. (References and link to article at the end of this post). Other studies have shown that additional benefits of practicing gratitude can include improved mental and physical health, enhanced relationships, higher self-esteem, and overall satisfaction with life.

Typically it only takes two minutes to record thoughts of gratitude. Just two minutes a day can change your outlook on the world. Focusing on the things you are thankful for can provide a beacon of light to help you climb out of the fog created by uncertainty and anxiety.

The simple act of acknowledging the things we are grateful for can help enhance our health, mood, and spirit. Why not start today?

References and additional information:

Buy the Cancer Gift of Optimism: To help a cancer patient regain optimism and a sense of control. This gift includes two simple items to help cultivate gratitude.

Positive Psychology, Positive Prevention, and Positive Therapy, Martin E. P. Seligman, University of Pennsylvania.

Emmons RA, et al. “Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An experimental investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well Being in Daily Life,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Feb. 2003): Vol. 84, No. 2, pp 377-89.

Sansone RA, et al. “Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation,” Psychiatry (Nov. 2010): Vol.7, No. 11, pp. 18 -22.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness Meditation.

Related Article:

About Margot Malin: Intellectually cMargot Malinurious and fiercely independent, Margot Malin has a passion for knowledge.  After receiving her MBA from The Wharton School, she launched her career by analyzing and evaluating businesses.  In 2002 she embarked on the “creative reinvention” phase of her career with the intention of “giving back”. Margot founded Lots To Live For, Inc., an internet retailer that sells carefully selected products to reduce and relieve the uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects caused by chemotherapy and radiation.

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