Spring Opportunities of Joy for Breast Cancer Survivors

Winter may have been especially long, cold and dark for many; but as winter turned a corner on March 20, 2017, spring caused a shift in sunlight, brightening the corners of darkness. As breast cancer survivors’ know, not all changes bring light into the darkness. Life feels permanently changed when those words resounded in your ears, “I am sorry you have breast cancer.” What do you know about the word, permanently? Maybe it is that all things are truly impermanent (not permanent). Like the four seasons, we realize the idea of impermanence as one season rolls into the next, ever changing. The concept of impermanence becomes a useful tool for living our lives vibrantly. Increasingly important, using ALL of our tools to keep us moving forward and staying positive. As Bell Ruth Naparstek explained in one of her affirmations in many of her healing CDs, “More and more I know I will be well, not out of the fear of death or disability. I will be well out of the joy of living.”

Spring is a time when many things begin anew again. Grass appears greener than usual, blossoms on trees dance in the sunlight and bunnies are being born. Birds even seem to border on the obnoxious side late at night and early morning hours. The birds are so happy to be alive and so happy to create what comes natural that they do not attempt to restrain their song. You too, can be like the birds. Letting the cancer be like a winter season in your life, and chose to move into spring with the light, and the birds.

It is March 20, 2017 and you are still here. What do you want to plant? What to do you want to create? All of us reading this today are still here. All of us are going to die, yes, but what are we going to do with this day to make it a song from our heart? What if we feel tired? What if we feel weak? What is it that we can do to make today a day of spring-filled blessings? The choice is ours. We are not the same person before those words, “I am sorry you have breast cancer.” We are different now. Think about when Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz was hit upside the head with window, her life changed. She went on an unplanned journey that had many perils. When she returned to Kansas, no one or nothing had changed. However, Dorothy was different. She had been on the journey while everyone else stayed in their own comfort zone. Cancer changes us because it throws us out of our comfort zone and into the battle with the wicked witch of the west. We begin to see the path is up to us, not the Wizard, to survive the ordeals. We must get the witches broom. The season of spring gives us many opportunities to sweep out things not working, pack up things that are no longer useful and create new and bright happy changes in our life.

Make that affirmation, “More and more I know I will be well, not out of the fear of death or disability. I will be well out of the joy of living.” Regardless of your situation, stage, grade, or prognosis, create some joy in each day. Whether it is the ecstasy of the softness of ice cream in your mouth or a cool washcloth against your hot skin, push yourself to move toward joy just as a flower pushes out of the dormant cold frozen dirt toward the warmth and light of the newly arrived sunlight. Life is simple. It is what it is. You get to create joy and you can do that. Cancer did not steal that ability.

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. 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.

How To Develop & Execute A Nurturing Plan During Breast Cancer

how-to-nurture-a-breast-cancer-patient-during-treamentNURTURE is an important and essential action for you as a person with breast cancer. NURTURE usually takes a seat at the end of the “to –do” list and never gets done in our day-to-day busy lives. NURTURE is absolutely essential to growth and to healing. You must move it to the top of the list now. Your cells, your mood, your emotions and your quality of life depend on it. If you are going through all of this treatment to save your life, then NURTURE yourself through it. Massages, warm bubble baths, hot green tea, ice cold lemonade, mint, fresh flowers, and a great power nap are only a few things on the long list of NURTURING actions. Today, make a list of your top 10 NURTURING ideas and then develop a plan on how to execute one of them a week. NURTURING actions are essential to you healing well and thriving as an individual. Breast cancer forces you to change your life, thus you might as well choose positive ways to change it rather than be a victim to it.

If you just throw something out into the world and do nothing to provide a stable and supportive environment for growth, then not much is going to happen. NURTURING is a fundamental necessity to attain your heart’s desires. Sometimes a “victim identity” keeps us in ruts of “poor me”, “I can’t do what I want to do because I have breast cancer”. That way of thinking is lazy thinking. If you want something, then it is important to work for it. Nothing just happens. Even those that win the lottery statistically lose it all within a few short years. It is our inner attitude, our psychological scripts that are just as powerful as our DNA. They must consistently be NURTURED in positive, generous, and supportive ways for your being to let go and allow you to believe that change is possible for everyone, including yourself.
So today choose to change. Get out into the sunlight, wear something you love, surround yourself in beauty, and do the things that make you smile. NURTURE yourself today and always.

Featured Image From The Truth About Cancer

Dr. Robin Dilley

Dr. 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.

21 Key Points To Make Your Life Meaningful Today

21 Key points to a meaningful lifeIt is hard to get into your home without a KEY. Your car will not start without a KEY. The KEY to your safe protects your valuables and as you get older (if you are like me) you spend a bit of time trying to locate your KEYS. The KEY to this post is to make sure you know the KEY points to making your life meaningful today.

It is KEY to your health that you take responsibility for it and do not pawn your body off on your doctor. Research and educating yourself is the KEY to you being in charge of your treatment and treatment team. Get all of the information you can about your cancer, its stage and grade, and its many treatment options. Ask a thousand questions. Don’t let the medical professional make you feel you are asking too many. Here are a couple of my favorite questions: What is my prognosis or what are the statistics if I do what you are suggesting? And if I don’t, what are my odds? How quickly does this progress? If this was your mother, wife, husband, what would you suggest? Sometimes it is hard to ask tough questions but the KEY to unlock your choices is through information and information and education is power.

You have other choices that are KEYS to take note of. Eating healthy and reading labels is KEY to you being in charge of what goes in your mouth. Exercise is a KEY to feeling good about your body and keeping it in top shape.

Another KEY to a meaningful daily life is realizing that you are enough. Quit trying to make yourself fit into someone else’s mold, be exquisitely all of who you are. Stop hiding. Open the door of your heart and walk into life. You are the KEY ingredient. No one else can be you and the painful truth is no one else can live your life for you. You are the KEY to your happiness and no one else. Life is made up of KEY ingredients but you are the master KEY. You unlock all the doors and you choose how to deal with what comes at you.

Organized religion is not the KEY to your spirituality. But it can be a KEY ingredient to feeling connected to your God. I found that cancer brought up some interesting questions about God, faith, hope, and prayer. Spirituality is the KEY to understanding those questions and finding peace in journey without concrete answers.

The KEY is to stand up and be responsible for your life and your choices. The KEY to your health, finances, relationships, connections, and life’s direction is in your heart. Open it and live on.

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.

%d bloggers like this: