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In my experience with the patients I see at my clinic,
wellbeing and outcomes seem to be improved in
those who have, or who learn to develop, certain
mental characteristics or habits.
These are:
Acting, as far as possible, as if you don't have
Setting strong and exciting goals and getting
started on them
Looking at a cancer diagnosis as a wake-up call
and a strong message that you need to restore
balance by changing behaviours or traits
Researching and reading books and online
articles, so as to stay informed
Avoiding negative people and surrounding
yourself with positive supporters
Prioritising activities such as yoga, meditation,
holidays, time with grandchildren, prayer,
music...activities that allow you to connect on
a spiritual level with yourself and others
Going through these individually -
though not seen as desirable
in many quarters these days, in my experience
stubbornness is an outstandingly important quality
to have if you have cancer. Those who are often
classed as `difficult' patients ask lots of questions,
because they want to be informed. Being informed
is vital, as it enables you to make more effective
decisions, to become empowered and to feel in
control. Stubbornness is also strongly linked with
determination and tenacity, which are essential.
Acting, as far as possible, as if you don't have
is important, as it allows you to get on with
things in life that you enjoy doing. So at the very
least, when doing these enjoyable things, you can
have fun, and, for this time, avoid negative thinking
about cancer. So, as far as possible, people with
cancer should continue with the enjoyable activities
that they were doing before diagnosis.
Setting strong, and exciting goals
important as - like acting as if you are well - it
gets you busy with things that you enjoy; and
taking up new activities that also will give you
joy. This joy can be `infectious' and can spread to
others who you do the activity with. For example,
I encouraged one client who came to me to help
increase his wellbeing and immune system, to do a
half marathon run in Brighton with a large placard
on his back saying that he had stage IV lung cancer.
As you can imagine, on the day, he inspired the
crowds of spectators as well as the other runners,
and his story featured in the local paper. He also got
a huge buzz from all the cheers and well-wishers
encouraging him. So it was clearly a win-win
situation for everyone. Also, tackling goals can help
to boost the immune system, as engaging in this
way releases endorphins into the body. Remember,
age is no barrier to setting and achieving goals.
There are marathon runners who are in their 90s,
and one who is over 100 years old, who regularly
runs marathons.
Looking at your diagnosis as a wake-up
can be crucial, as people will often find that
there is a behaviour, or stored up emotion, or trait,
that they need to change. This behaviour or trait,
if left unchanged, could lead to chronic stress,
which will, in turn, lower the immune system. Often
people are in the habit of not allowing any time
for themselves, or they may be very unassertive,
constantly aiming to please others, to the detriment
of their own mental wellbeing. Changing such
behaviours can lead to great emotional release for
some, and can result in feeling that they are now in
control of their life.
Research and reading
are always a good
idea for people with cancer to inform themselves
and thus become more empowered. It is also a way
Image:supplied b
y author