Were You One Of A Stubborn Cancer Patients?

cancer voice in asia
Cancer patients need someone to support and encourage them not someone to argue with no matter how stubborn they are. Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Before you will give up taking care of your loved one or continue connecting with your friend that has cancer. Think about this first. And I will try to make this as concise as I could so that we can all understand why it is difficult to figure out the changeable mood of someone has cancer.

Your loved one or friend that has cancer may not be pleasant to be around anymore right after the diagnosis, recurrence cancer or metastasis. They can have little patience and tolerance for anything or to anyone. They seem to be angry with everyone. You may think they are rude and you may seem they’re not like the same person anymore. Of course, no one will like this. You can’t deal with this kind of attitude every day.

But, please remember…

Cancer is isolating.

And the people with cancer feel lonely most of the time. Especially those who could not accept yet their diagnosis. Being around to someone who has cancer is already a great comfort during their cancer journey.

Some people who give up their loved one that has cancer find it difficult to be a friend to them. Sad that cancer changes everything, including relationships and attitude of a cancer patient. Though they want to help all throughout the journey with cancer they always don’t know what to do. No matter how hard for the patient and the carer try to beat this deadly disease, taking all the medications, and following doctor’s advice – it’s sad how aggressive some cancer is that relationships are affected.

Some cancer patients become more stubborn throughout their journey. And being positive is almost not that valuable anymore. Staying positive during the cancer battle is a lot of pressure. I know how hard it feels. As a cancer survivor, diagnosed with Sarcoma 2 years ago, I just let my emotion flows.

When you feel being so positive, live it out, but if you’re not, let your tears flow or whatever you think can make you feel good.

Because having cancer is a feeling like a hell every day that makes someone scared to death coping pain, anxiety, and hopelessness.

Why not be patient for the cancer patient’s changeable mood and attitude? When they need to be alone, respect it. The least that we can do is to understand them and being around with them no matter how difficult the cancer treatment process is.

A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event. Expect everything will change including the mood and emotions. We always hope that each cancer patient that is diagnosed with cancer will finally reach the stage of being cured and free from the physical pain that cancer brings.

I personally thank all understanding and persistent friends and family members who stayed despite difficulty what cancer can bring to both patients and carers. You are really the most honored people across the globe. The fight of each cancer patient is also the fight of someone who has cancer.

Can you share why no matter what your loved ones and doctor tells you what you supposed to do, you are still stubborn?

Leave your comment below.

A Smile Costs Nothing But Gives Much

cancer voice in asiaSmiling wooden figure. Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

You’ve got cancer! Smile!

Are you kidding me? Smile?

When my doctor told me I had cancer, nothing was the same anymore. Having cancer was like a point of no return. No trace of a smile was found on my face. Only fears and uncertainties filled my whole being.

If you had asked me before I was diagnosed with cancer, my heart was pounding out of my chest. I can’t wait to know if the bump that stayed on my upper right thigh was a tumor or not.

When I met my doctor weeks after my surgical removal, I cried my heart out, but actually, no sound came out of my lips. There are only silent teardrops that filled my eyes.

The news was shocking, I felt dreadful and something that occurred right that instant moment, as if a great wall suddenly built in front of me that I could impossibly get through to my friends and my family anymore. The fear of dying at that moment made me feel so detached from them.

It is never easy for someone diagnosed with cancer to smile.

It is also never easy for someone who cares and wanted to communicate with a patient or survivor. Sometimes words are uncomfortably be uttered.

But YOU can bring a smile to a cancer survivor or patient’s face.

So, if you know someone who is diagnosed with cancer, make your communication simple. With your love, empathy, and smile you can let them know how important he or she in your life.

Love
Showing love doesn’t necessarily have to be from a romantic partner, family or best friend. Sometimes, a stranger is capable to show overwhelming love to someone who is facing something unfamiliar and unpredictable as a cancer diagnosis.

In my journey, I can say that I was so fortunate to feel the love from few people who were there for me during my diagnosis. They are like angels who have this inner beauty that is capable to show great love even from someone who they just met.

Not all cancers are alike, my cancer experience could never be the same as others. Even I met a fellow sarcoma survivor with the same site of tumor with mine, our diagnosis and cancer journey are totally different.

Make your love known to someone has cancer simple by simply listening to him/her. No matter how hard we try to understand them, you will never really understand what they’re going through. Showering advice to someone that has cancer may not actually assure you that they will feel better. Because, sometimes, all they need is someone who can listen to them.

Empathy
Why empathy, not sympathy?

“Empathy is the thread that connects us to other humans. When empathy is used in everyday life, it makes us feel more connected to one another. And when we feel connected to those around us, we into better, more compassionate people.” Brene Brown

How can you connect yourself to someone who is suffering from pain every minute, every day? When a “no respond” from your questions makes you already disappointed and leave that person alone.

Why not show some small act of kindness? Maybe make a relaxing tea for him/her, make a quick grocery before you visit a friend that has cancer or leave a simple message/note (written or digital). It’s these little things that can make a difference that might change the mood of a cancer patient/survivor.

Smile
A smile can be a verb or noun, it’s a facial expression showing how kind and amusing you are where your lips turn up and the front teeth exposed. But a smile is not just a simple definition.

A smile is a very powerful thing that cost nothing but gives much.

There is nothing much to smile about for someone who has cancer. Maybe your smile is needed today. Your smile can bring hope and encouragement to those who suffer from cancer.

A happy person can have 40 to 50 times smile in one day. An average one can have 20 times, why not give one of your smiles to someone you know who is now suffering from the pain cancer has brought?

Had you given a smile to someone who has cancer yet? Or maybe suffering from any chronic illnesses or pain, or maybe depression.

If you haven’t yet, don’t wait for tomorrow. Give one of yours now. Smile!!!

And don’t forget to share your thoughts, leave a comment below!

We Never Truly Know Another’s Pain They Carry

cancer voice in asia
A man shouting for freedom from pain. Photo courtesy by Tony Rojas on Unsplash

We all fall down.

Whether we are healthy or not, rich or poor, young or old.

There are times that we have to fall lower than we have ever been, to stand up taller than we ever were.

There are times we need to rise up by ourselves and live the reality that there is no back up coming along the way.

Sometimes,

We have to fall down,

Alone.

And realize that…

Falling down is a part of someone’s life, to rise up is life.

Life can be explained in many ways.

It’s definition is vague.

Yet, one thing that it is clear — in life we need to go through some pain.

You think that killing yourself would be a permanent solution to a temporary problem?

Stop giving up hope.

And start giving in to life’s biggest risk.

It is enriching our life.

It is in fact much more rewarding.

Will you choose to take the risk?

We all make choices.

You have a choice each and every single day.

And everything we do in life is done by the choices we make.

Whatever happened in our life is the by-product of the choices we’ve made.

Some consequences bring sheer bliss.

Some pain.

Pain…

You have cancer.

You are hoping for the best while planning for the worst.

Sometimes this too much pain we don’t even want to tell everyone, even our loved ones, friends, or doctors.

It steals our happiness.

It steals our hair, money, family, pleasure in life that puts us up to anxiety, depression, hopelessness, our ability to do well and accomplish our task or unable to make a good decision.

Please, try to understand the pain we feel.

You may never fathom how intense and agonizing we may feel.

Just be there.

Whether you can’t utter any words from your mouth. You will perfectly express the right words at the right time.

Your silence is enough.

Your presence is enough.

Your actions can have a huge impact on a mundane life I am now going through.

Know that this pain not only hurts physically, it also leads to depression, isolation, or anxiety.

But…

There’s hope.

We know.

We need time.

We need time to reduce this pain and rebuild ourselves.

We also want to live a normal life like you.

We know we have hope despite of pain.

Hope is something we desire and expect with.

Like you, we want to have a chance to be normal like you

We were once a normal person with a job.

We were once a normal person who loves to watch TV, go out and meet some friends.

We were once a normal person who thinks life is perfectly fine.

Until one day,

We started to learn new words such as metastatic or sarcoma.

We spend our time in the hospital or in our bedroom.

We still want to have a normal life despite all of this.

Raise our own kids, grow old and see our grandkids, too.

We want a chance to be just like you.

Who can still make more achievements like you do.

Sometimes, we wish to want back what cancer took away.

Like you, we want to feel our lives have a purpose

Having a purpose in life seems impossible for us who endures a chronic pain with a chronic illness.

Yet hope has given us to find our life’s purpose.

Having hope may endure the misery of our treatment.

That we many able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

You can give us your definitions of hope.

We always expect of good things that are yet to be — to achieve our desired goal.

And find meaning in our family, friends and even in my cancer experience.

We never truly know another’s pain carry, until then…

We find a new level of value to life itself.

By simply making a choice to stop and smell the plumeria we see along the road.

By looking up to see the color of the sky when the sun is setting.

By listening to the sound of raindrops.

By admiring someone’s kindness.

By feeding stray animals.

By appreciating someone’s unexpected help.

In doing this, we find more meaning in life…

We try to understand the greater purpose or reason behind this illness and what it means to our life now.

We try to explore more feelings about cancer and how I react to every pain I feel daily.

We try to identify that cancer should, in fact, a life-changing experience that makes us wanted to understand more about the effect of this illness in my life.

Suddenly a gradual change in our interest and priorities that used to be not important before our cancer.

It brings means to understand our life and to find a way of healing — within.

Until such time,

We allow ourselves to feel the pain instead of hiding it.

We embrace pain and burden to fuel our journey to a new normal life.

We accept this experience that will help us find and go through to the detoxifying vitality of life — that lead us to one of the rightful things that can occur to us in our life, if…

…we let it in.

“We hide the pain in the weirdest places
Broken souls with smiling faces
Fighting for surrender
For now and the after, yeah
Just look around and you’ll see that people
Are scared to say how they really feel
Oh, we all need a little honesty”

Disclaimer:

Chronic pain is one of the hardest battles of any person that endures chronic illness. Having a positive life for most people who experience excruciating pain every day — seems impossible, but this may take time to reverse what we expect the least. Some may be able to win this battle against chronic pain, some may give up. The author somehow wanted to extend a great hope for everyone, especially for those who are now experiencing a great pain. And to let everyone knows that killing oneself is not the option of a hope offered in life.

Have you had any loved ones who now keep battling to beat the pain? They deserve to have a life brighten up — not to live with the dark.

If so, please share with us! Leave a comment below!

Human Contact Cannot Be Overestimated!

cancer in asia blog
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Human contact cannot be overestimated!

This was the exact sentence from another cancer survivor to me in one of the fora in the social media where we share experiences and victories.

I shared my latest blog, a letter to my friend whose cancer is back right after her second surgery with her recurrence tumor in the thyroid in the same forum I mentioned earlier and received very helpful comments afterward.

“Please take some time to go see her even if all you do is sit and hold her hand.”

“If you can, go and cry with her. Then talk, then cry some more, then encourage her that you will be there. In spirit if not always in body. If you can only text or write, that’s okay. Just tell her she is not alone and you will stay to whatever the end is, whenever it is. Then do it. It’ll make all the difference for her and you. Let her know, she can say anything. You won’t leave.”

These are the first two bits of advice I received from one of the most courageous people across the globe.

Their words are powerful to help another, to encourage another.

Similarly with what Karla Kay said during our previous interview,

“Until you hear those 3 words, you have no idea how you would handle anything!”

True! Even the three little word – CANCER – is powerful to devastate our world. However, this word will just be a trifle with the powerful words of those people surrounded by someone has cancer.

Someone that is ready to answer without making the understanding difficult.

People need people.

An approval, comfort, or encouragement from other people is vital to human health, both mentally and physically. With the help of social interaction, people can express their feelings and share their problems with other people.

Not just any social support, it must be a good social support that can help someone coping with stress, major life changes (like divorce, moving house, migrating, and so on…) or chronic illnesses.

It has been proved by many researchers and studies that the most lonely people more often are afflicted with health and mental problems such as cardiovascular problem, stress, anxiety, and depression.

“No man is an island.”

Just like what the famous proverb goes, “No man is an island”. Knowing that we are being thought of and valued by few people who are close to us is an essential psychological factor in helping us to ignore the negative aspects of our lives, and thinking more positively about our environment.

Friends and family are there to reduce the stress that we are enduring that can boost our confidence and gives us great motivation not to give up easily.

Having said that, in the reality of life, there are some circumstances that we cannot always expect a great encouragement from our friends and family.

Instead, these are the people we expect the least.

They are the ones who unselfishly keeping us the fight toward the victory.

They are once strangers in our life which turns into someone we can always run to.

However…

Not all of us have the toughness to open our hearts and share our feelings and problems.

Not all of us have the courage to be upfront to share our raw feelings.

There are people who find it difficult to process their feelings and communicate to others, yet they are still misunderstood.

More so, the lack of interaction of these kinds of people can negatively lead to first signs of depression and anxiety.

Don’t waste your time.

Whenever you know someone who is suffering from life-threatening conditions such as cancer, a strong human connection can help the recovery and even enhance the quality of their life, which is very important for a seriously ill or mentally unhealthy person.

If you know one, go and make them feel that they should not be alone carrying all the burdens they are bearing.

You’ll never tell how you can improve their well-being that affects their immune system as well.

Your words and actions can be a great moment of truth for them.

It is never too late to do anything if you start doing it now. Especially, helping someone in the core of deep sadness.

Have you made yourself a great influence and positive impact on someone’s life? Have you been part of someone else’s turning point in life? Have you brightened up their dark days? Have you snatched them out from the abyss of loneliness?

If so, please share with us! Leave a comment below!

 

To My Dear Friend, Let’s Crush Cancer Together

cancer in asia; vietnam; philippines
Photo by Courtney Prather on Unsplash

Recently, you had brought us another terrible news that makes us unbearably sad.

“You have cancer, again.”

This news had shocked us and left us completely speechless.

I sent you a message right after I heard that news from our other friend.

Then, you replied back, “We have still hope!”

Yes! We still have lots of hope.

With us, we will try to crush this cancer as positive and happy as possible as we could.

You know, we can still go for a walk together in the park. What a shame that I have not been able to do that with you yet as like we always plan before, I am sorry.

But of course, we can shop for more groceries like we used to do. Or sing our favorite karaoke songs together.

Let’s have more movie together, and again, I am really sorry I fell asleep when we were watching the last time.

Yes, there are still much hope!

Because cancer cannot defeat your brave and fighting spirit.

Because it cannot quiet your daring outlook in life.

Because it cannot kill friendship.

Because…

It cannot stop making you more good memories.

I can see how well you’ve been trying to beat cancer (alone).

I really admire your courage since, and you are much braver than before.

I understand…

I understand how exhausting to keep going back to the hospital for days and waiting for the whole day for your test results and doctor’s appointment.

I can imagine after all those exhausting days visiting your doctor you will hear again the word you used to hear. I feel like my even knees sudden weaken after I heard the news about you.

With this recent news, I know, it takes a lot of courage to accept the truth. Even us, we could not seem hardly imagine why this is all happening again. You may be hiding your real emotions yet you are still bold enough to handle this carefully.

You are one of the toughest persons I know. I could not imagine why this nagging cancer dares to keep coming back and thinks it could a chance against you. This is really unfair it’s happening again.

Please do remember, you are not alone in this journey. We are here to help you at any and every step of this burdensome journey.

All I wish, that one day, you’ll get through this. I can’t wait for more bus escapades together with you, our beach days and even more coffee shops hop.

You are an inspiration to us. How you showed your strength despite the pain you feel every day.

The dedication you had shown in the project we are doing and how relentless you are with your plans while you are living with cancer.

Please, always remember this, although you are now in the midst of many uncertainties at the moment…

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

 

She Sparkles And Shines On, Meet Karla Kay

cancer in asia
Karla Kay – Leiomyosarcoma Survivor, Stage 1b Grade High

Let me just tell those “SHOULD”ers they need to STOP!! Until you hear those 3 words you have no idea how you would handle anything!

The Diagnosis
On 28th October 2015, I received the phone call at 5 p.m. while standing in the kitchen from my gynecologist doctor. His words were very somber and slow after I heard him say, “The biopsy came back and you have cancer”, I couldn’t hear anything else. I dropped to the floor and told him to stop talking! My son was there and literally picked me up off of the floor.

The Decisive Moment
From that moment my life changed forever. After the shock wore off my focus was to get the beast (cancer) out and stay alive to help plan my daughter’s wedding who just told me a week before she was getting married on October 16th, 2016. After my surgery, I was told I had a very rare aggressive Leiomyosarcoma of the uterus (Stage 1b Grade High). I thought how could this be!? How could my body be trying to kill me, I lost all trust in my body, how could the uterus that gave me 2 beautiful children turn so ugly! I was angry. I began questioning God. I began questioning my life. My journey of 2 1/2 years has been a roller coaster. I am very grateful to still be cancer free coming up on 3 years now. But not a day goes by I don’t think about what if it returns. I lost many people who I thought were “friends”, set boundaries and I feel there is a before cancer Karla and an after cancer Karla.

Advice
My advice, DON’T LET ANYONE “SHOULD” ON YOU!!! You know what I’m talking about those who are survivors. Whether you currently have cancer or currently NED (No Evidence of Disease), some people will tell you how you “should” be handling it, how you “should” be acting, what you “should” be feeling. Let me just tell those “SHOULD”ers they need to STOP!! Until you hear those 3 words you have no idea how you would handle anything! Another piece of advice, let go of toxic people live life to the fullest and be bold! God gave me a second chance, I will not allow anyone to take it from me. I hit hell’s floor and I rose with fire!

Wow! This interview has really amazed and inspired me! I can feel the driven strength of character of Karla Lay. It is an honor to do an interview with this another Leiomyosarcoma warrior for three years and counting.

Karla is now cancer free. She had a total abdominal hysterectomy where the tumor was contained in her uterus. Thankfully, it has not spread. She visits her oncologist and surgeon and has CT scans every three months.

How does this story of Karla Kay resonate with you? Share your thoughts, leave a comment below!

Photo courtesy of the author.

Cancer Is Hard, And So As Depression

cancer; asia; depression; vietnam; philippines
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

My thoughts… are just everywhere. I could not even focus. My mind is blinded, racing, and beating right out of my chest.

I had been diagnosed with cancer, I followed all the treatments. Now, I’m back home, I can go back to work.

I am not even sure if I will miss my old before my cancer. I embraced my cancer, but I am not living with cancer.

Oh, so you’re still alive, how unfortunate are you!

You are wrong.

Cancer sucks and so as anxiety or depression.

Wait… depression? Don’t get me wrong. I am referring to depression that is more common for everyone even for those people who don’t have cancer.

Depression is not the same as clinical depression. But, if you just let yourself go deeper into different symptoms of depression, you will be more likely stuck in a major depression.

To be honest, if you are gonna ask me how I’m doing, it is a question that I just really want to give a reply.

But if I won’t reply, you will misunderstand me and you will start to drift apart.

Do you think it is easy to answer this question for a cancer survivor? Because you know what? For a cancer survivor like me, I choose not to talk about my cancer and allow me to live my new life with the same people who used to surround me.

Oh, yes, I got it. Some of you will not eventually stay, well, this is my new life!

We choose not to talk about our cancer because this is one of the ways we can cope easily.

You may think that I give up, well, it’s the only way to survive.

I prefer to stop thinking about my cancer, meet new friends, go somewhere I have never been and do things I have never done.

**In one of my research results reveals that depression is more common for people with cancer who often struggle with uncertainty, challenges, and fear that a cancer diagnosis can bring.

According to Cancer.net, depression is a collection of symptoms that group into 4 categories: mood-related, cognitive, physical and behavioral. Because cancer and cancer treatment can cause similar cognitive and physical symptoms as depression. More emphasis is placed on the mood-related and behavioral symptoms for people with cancer.

What are the symptoms?

  1. Mood-related symptoms: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, numbness, or worthlessness.
  2. Cognitive symptoms: they are related to a person’s thought process, it decreases the ability to concentrate, difficulty making decisions, memory problems, and negative thoughts (severe depression can include thoughts of suicide).
  3. Behavioral symptoms: crying often, social withdrawal, loss of interest in activities you previously enjoyed and a loss of motivation.
  4. Physical symptoms: fatigue, low energy, poor appetite, sleep problems, lower sex drive.

How does depression affect cancer treatment?

Depression or clinical depression (there two don’t have the same level of stress as what I had mentioned from my previous blog) can worsen the physical effects caused by cancer, sometimes increasing the losses experienced by the patient (for example fatigue caused by depression can worsen the fatigue caused by cancer treatment).

So what are the common ways doctors treat people with depression (the first 2 points can be done carefully even without doctor’s endorsement)?

  • Emotional and social support can help people better cope with the daily challenges that cancer brings.
  • Main treatments are counseling and medication (sometimes both, but must be done by a qualified doctor).
  • A talk with a counselor or a right person/friend (for mild depression).
  • The main goal of counseling is to enhance coping in problem-solving skills, help find support and reshape negative self-defeating thoughts.

There are numbers of counseling options: individual counseling, couples or family counseling and group counseling.

The following are just the inescapable facts of everyone’s life that we cannot change.

You may not have cancer but you are in pain. It may not every day like how a cancer patient feels but it is clear that we cannot stay away from sadness, worthlessness, or anxiety.

Suffering, regardless, it is something that we can be in charge of. We always have the option to stay happy than to be stuck in an utterable turmoil of depression or anxiety.

And only yourself can do that. Your friends and families’ support is more than enough but it’s useless if you already made a choice inside. And that is, to be filled with sadness and negativities.

It is not easy, being happy does not happen in just one snap, but if you are decided after making a choice to turn your life upside-down.

You can see the beauty of the process of taming your brain’s emotional response. Whatever life throws at you, you will always keep returning to a conscious and mindful state of mind. And you will be able to recognize your emotions within yourself and even in others and to manage them daily.

Any thoughts you want to share regarding your struggle and struggle with anxiety and depression?

Just leave your comments below.

**Cancer.net

 

This Is What I Learned From Practicing Guided Imagery

Photo by Lua Valentia on Unsplash

Back from those days where I was afraid to deal with anything real until I’ve got to face a painful reality that I could not really imagine how to deal with.

What’s the painful reality? That I — am sick, alone, and dying — anytime soon!

Hearing those three little words, “You have cancer” makes me confused and scared that I could not bear to tell anyone.

Back from those days where I — was — a person who cannot tame my brain’s emotional response. Where in every positive or negative pitch life has given, I usually tend to react where I tend to judge either myself or other people and make a comparison from everyone that surrounds me or even to myself.

Now, that I had come to realize that I needed to claim this. This was very hard. For how many times I need to deal with myself, I have to claim my cancer. I have to accept this painful reality.

Accepting this painful reality of having cancer, another painful reality arises. Where anxiety, depression, sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness are limitless and uncontrollable.

Being diagnosed with cancer and a crisis management in dealing emotions and stress are both closely associated with each other.

Six months of treatment, from my surgical removal to acupuncture (6 sessions) and the last was radiation therapy (35 sessions).

Of all these treatments I had gone through, the surgery — it did not only cut my skin and left a scar but also cut me off from certain friends or even family members. The acupuncture — it did not only stabbed my body with needles and left blood in certain areas of my body but also stabbed my heart for this is not the life I was expecting. The radiation therapy — it did not only burn my skin but also burned my soul. I feel like I was already doomed to death — but, I have to suffer first!

Now, treatment was done, and everyone thought, “I’m okay”! Everyone thought that I was so fortunate that I was able to beat cancer!

Yes — my battle with cancer was done. But, the battle with depression has continued.

Well, even I — I thought I was okay, too. Until then, I went back to Vietnam after my treatment in the Philippines. I felt so sorry and embarrassed whenever friends and colleagues tell me each time they meet me that I lose weight. You know what’s more annoying? When they did not tell me those the same words, once — in fact, twice, thrice or umpteenth times! No matter how I convince them I was okay and I am just coping, there are still those people who get on my nerves.

So there you see, my reaction after those people keep telling me how I lose weight, or worse is I still look “sick”.

I was even confused how to act being tough whenever I was pounded with negative questions people were asking me for being mentally strong.

Until I realized that I have to stay away from these people, try to manage my emotions and learn how to understand, accept, and manage my feelings first.

For 5 months, after I was able to go back to Vietnam, I tried to cut off some people from my circle. Though things did not go well as I wish to happen, with perseverance, I was able to deal the rollercoaster ride and started being mindful and managed my emotions especially when it is in crisis.

For 5 months, I learned deeper about guided imagery. It is a mental imagery process where sometimes it is commonly called as guided meditation, visualization, mental rehearsal, and guided-hypnosis. Where it follows the usual process: the correct posture (vertical position, either sitting on a chair or a floor or lying down on a bed), eyes closed and breathing.

I have been doing this for almost 5 months — quietly. I started doing this after I did some research and I decided to make this practice a part of coping with my cancer journey.

As I continue doing the practice of guided imagery, it taught me about being mindful and non-reactive to every situation I might put up with.

Mindfulness — knowing what is going on at the moment. Being present with the “now” instead of looking back to the past or being anxious to the present.

Non-reaction where it helps me to deepen the connection I have with myself especially to my emotions. Whatever may happen in my surroundings it is up to me if I will react or not. Whether it could be positive or negative.

Well, I don’t mean that if I am very grateful for someone’s good deed towards me, I will not show a euphoric feeling at that very moment. Of course, I must show my appreciation in order to continue a good relationship with anyone I am connected with.

It is necessary to remember as well to make everything in balanced whether it could be a good or bad experience. Our life is constantly changing. And if we are not able to control how we react, an attachment is connected to our emotions and without being aware of, we already place expectations to the other person.

And when we seeded expectations, that someone who used to make you happy at some point will make you upset and disappointed.  Eventually, it will create a negative impact and the separation from others who you used to be closed with begins. Either they will stop talking, create a space in between and keep a distance from you or worse get into an argument. And these are not healthy and helpful for someone who is coping with cancer treatment.

Each one of us is responsible for the way we react to different life’s circumstances, so instead of reacting, we may shift this into a response that is able for you or me to create a more balanced state of conscious and non-reactive mind.

That is why we meditate. We breathe in as we feel the tension, and breathe out to release that tension.

Likewise, if there is any negative pitch had thrown to me, I choose to stay positive and move forward.

Now, when I am being asked randomly, why I am so calm now to any circumstances I am facing. Well, I am doing this for myself first because I respect and honor my body and second to take care each relationship I am involved to anyone around me, whether it could be a colleague, friend or family.

I am just a human being, sometimes I missed to remind myself to be mindful and non-reactive.

Although I had already learned enough from practicing this guided imagery and benefitted positive result from it, there are also times that I get anxious, sad or hopeless.

But the only good thing is, with enough information how guided imagery has helped me cope with my cancer journey, it is always there to remind me to pause or stop whenever I was in the state of negativity or toxicity.

Disclaimer:
This article is only a testimony how guided imagery works (especially guided meditation) for the author while she was coping with her cancer journey. According to one of her research results, one of the articles from cancer.net, had indicated that as many as 15-25% of people with cancer experience depression and it is more common for people with cancer who often struggle with uncertainty, challenges and fear that a cancer diagnosis can bring. And she is hoping that this article might give some convincing impression that can convey them that this practice can help identify and manage their emotions while facing cancer treatment and will not add to the burden of battling cancer.

There are other ways to treat and manage the rising crisis of emotions. Stay tuned, for this will be the next article soon.

Any thoughts you want to add from your own experience regarding with the practice of guided imagery?

Just leave your comments below.

The Selfless Sarcoma Warrior

The Diagnosis
MPNST (Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor) high-grade in sternum area and low-grade in the left thigh, May 20, 2016.

The Decisive Moment
I did many surgeries from 1st grade, middle school, and even after my college. Since I was young, I’ve got a number of lumps forming in my body.

My family was very worried so they brought me to the doctor for a biopsy. An excision biopsy was done and the result was eventually okay.

Unfortunately, the number of lumps growing in my body grew more each year. So, I was required for another surgical removal especially on my right abdomen.

My surgical removal happened for 3 times already but then, another lump grew on a different site.

Until then, the doctors were able to give their final diagnosis, I have Neurofibromatosis since I was still in college.

I tried to make research over the Internet and look for the common symptoms. I realized then that my cancer is genetic and I got this from my grandfather from my father’s side.

Most of my lumps previously were all benign, until a tumor appears from a different site and it turns out to become malignant.

After having many surgeries done since I was young, I even look like a rag doll already, but it’s fine as long as the results are good.

Despite the fact that I am living with cancer, I never let cancer define me.

I successfully completed my nursing degree and I work as a nurse for 6 years after college. I am PDN (Private Duty Nurse) to a cancer patient with a terminal case which I took care of her for only 4 months. Then, as a caregiver in the western part of the globe and a medical nurse in the middle east.

Like you, I also have many plans for me and my family. Like giving them all the best from the only daughter that they ever had. Until this had happened. It seems unfair but I never allow this illness hinder my plans.

When I figured out that I have another tumor on my left thigh and on my sternum, it was so difficult to believe that it happened again. But then I just ignored it.

When I was working in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I notice that the tumor grows bigger than the last time I checked it from the same site (in my sternum). It’s very uncomfortable for my job. I was thinking to go back to the Philippines to have this check.

Continue reading The Selfless Sarcoma Warrior

This Is Why You Should Keep A Cancer Journal

 

The Cancer Voice Asia

The onset from dealing with cancer diagnosis is also a beginning of a “lonely” journey and battle.

It’s not only me, but everyone passed through the revelation of our biopsy, we suddenly shut the world down and isolated ourselves from everyone.

For more than two years I began my cancer journey, I saw myself first terrified with the unexpected path I have to stray off and also have met families and friends walking the same frightening pathway.

Do you know what we immediately see at the end of our trail?

This:

Photo by Kapil Dubey on Unsplash

Receiving a diagnosis that there is a tumor growing inside our body or the exact word “CANCER” is the most life-shattering experience we could ever have.

Literally, it smashes out our freedom since these tiny abnormal cells that have uncontrollably divided into our body are growing fast and aggressively.

It suddenly stirs up unexplained and unstable feelings which we don’t even know how to explain it to everyone so we prefer to — CUT PEOPLE LOSE even those who are close to us.

For most of us, having had terrifying medical experiences in the past and a memory that is not really pleasant we usually avoid keep talking about cancer because we need to move on.

Thinking or talking about our cancer can trigger an emotional wound that could overwhelm us with an intensity of emotion that is too deep for words.

It is very fortunate for some that are able to receive a lot of comfort and assistance from organizations and support systems where they could have a privilege to have a grounded life despite the threat of cancer. Where they can receive a complete aid whether in financial, personal, social and emotional aspect.

But, not everyone can have that kind of very fortunate encounter. Still, some of them are living in the dark right from the first day they found out that they have cancer.

This is why I am writing this and you should consider about keeping a cancer journal.

You could be a patient, survivor, or carer.

No one should make an excuse because the fact is, anyone must realize that even we are already in the abyss of this deadly disease, you are still able to find hope and light by writing your cancer journey.

You don’t have to share your journal with everyone. It’s always your choice if you want few people to read your thoughts and feelings that you want to write down as you face this dreadful journey.

As for me, I did not start having this blog and writing numbers of articles “out of the blue”.

I was able to start this blogging out from the thought of sharing my first few journals that I wrote before when I had cancer.

I even never thought of sharing my entire journey to everyone. Until, one day, I did.

Especially here:

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

I wanna make your first journal writing with these few and simple steps:

  1. Start with a few sentences (describe what you actually feel now).
  2. Be open and honest (just like you are talking to yourself in the mirror).
  3. Take your time and enjoy the process (little you might even know that you already write many sentences).

What matters here is yourself. You are doing this by helping your journey easy through reflecting on what’s happening. This is just for you not for other people, so throw all those doubts and worries out the window!

Please don’t think that because you have cancer, you suddenly become a private individual that could not live a life like a normal person that can do anything in life because you think they are healthier than you.

I know for some of you, you are still in the process of accepting this unwanted fate.

Seems impossible to start your cancer journal, I understand.

But writing your journey will somehow give you a chance to slow down and think about the positive things that still happen; despite cancer gives you enough reason to be negative and just give up the fight.

So take your time and never raise that white flag yet.

Please do think as well that having cancer means, it teaches us to be mindful of our life instead of doing anything that we please carelessly before our diagnosis.

What’s more? If you are good at drawing, painting, or any creative skills that you have, you can add it to your journal to make you more inspired.

REMEMBER: Cancer could not simply overthrow your creative skills.

Why not defeat cancer by using your creativity? Knowing that only you can do this, it’s a plus that makes you unique!

And, if you are not quite sure what to write, you can start writing some simple prompts such as:

  • What are you thankful for today?
  • What do you want to do today?
  • What are you worried now?
  • What makes you sad/happy?

Are you ready to get a pen and notebook to start your first cancer journal? It’s never too late for everyone.

Any thoughts you want to add? Just leave your comments below.

Photo by Ilya Ilyukhin on Unsplash