An attitude that focuses on vibrant well-being creates the mental and emotional framework for the entire healing process. Expecting a successful outcome of the chemotherapy experience will help to bring about that result.
It goes without saying that the reverse is also true. Cancer patients who begin a healing journey weighted down with fear, anxiety, self-pity, and an expectation of failure will find the road to wellness rocky, slippery, and barely navigable. Focus on failure, in other words, and you are bound to fail; focus on success, and you must surely succeed.
A re-identification is required here from cancer “victim” to cancer “victor”—and the body from diseased organism to healing machine.
A New Way of Thinking: From Victim to Victor
Welcome to a new way of thinking about your relationship to cancer and chemotherapy! Whereas before you may have been dwelling on the “why me, why now?” part of being a cancer patient, the time has come to get positive and begin to develop an attitude focused on healing—your healing.
This really is the first step on the path of healing, no matter how you look at it. Diet, supplements, exercise—anything else you do for yourself to stay healthy during chemo—will be tougher and seem more scattered without this positive framework for the healing process.
I strongly urge you to engage these practices at the outset of the program, and to keep them going throughout. If you don’t feel up to handling all of the suggestions below, try at least some of them. Tremendous benefits can be derived from “getting your head on straight” about who you are (not a victim, but a person on a healing journey) and where you are (exactly in the right place) in the process of getting and staying well.
Use Daily Affirmations
Affirmations are highly effective ways to turn around your thinking, and from there to turn around behavior. They have been used for centuries in one way or another to support goals and aspirations.
Affirmations are statements that you make to yourself, about yourself. You say them aloud and keep printed copies of them around (on your computer monitor, for instance) where you can see them and repeat them often during the day.
It’s best to come up with an affirmation or two that you adopt as your own. Avoid using negative words, such as “no” or “not”—it is better to say “I am healthy” than to say “I do not have cancer.”
Here are some suggestions:
- I am healthier with each new day.
- My body heals quickly and easily.
- I am healthy in every cell of my body.
- My body is a healing machine.
And before a nap or bedtime:
- Even when I am asleep, my body is healing itself.
Journal Your Feelings
Emotions are apt to run rampant during cancer treatment. You may find that you are happy one minute, depressed the next, on an ever-changing see-saw.
To bring some balance into the life of the emotions, and to release negative ones that might be weighing you down, consider keeping a journal of your feelings. It is as simple and getting a notebook, titling it “My Journal of Feelings,” and writing in it once a day or several times a day, or whenever something comes up that you want to express.
There is no special way of doing this, except that the entries should always start with, “I am feeling....”
You may want to make your journal public. To do that, there is no better way than to blog on the Internet. Starting and maintaining a blog is not difficult; for some, it is a good way to both release emotions and share the experience of treatment.
Here are some emotions that may surface when you are doing this practice:
Spruce Up Your Environment
Just because you are in treatment it doesn’t mean you need to live in an environment that says “professional sick person.” As part of the healing process, I encourage you to spruce up your surroundings, making them bright, airy, clean, and uncluttered.
Your outer world mirrors your inner world. If you are indeed on a journey of healing, it makes sense that the rooms where you are spending your time reflect the positive outlook you have adopted.
Here are a few ideas to make this a reality:
- Ask your caregiver and friends to bring you some fresh flowers every few days
- Make sure your bedroom is spotlessly clean and organized
- Unclutter—even if it means giving away a few things that may have lost their meaning for you
- Bring nature into your surroundings, whether through a small plant or photos of beautiful natural settings, or a bowl of water onto which you float some flower blossoms..
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous suggestion, but gets more personal. If you are spending a lot of time around the house—and close to the bed or couch, probably—there is something about freshening up and dressing up that is positively life-affirming.
Try to make time at least twice a week to dress up and go out, whether to an art gallery, a mall, a café, a park, or a movie—anywhere people congregate and pass by. This has a way of making us feel more “normal” than just sitting at home with a book or the TV.
Dressing up and going people-watching is good for the soul as well as for the body. When you get back to home-base, you may feel bushed, but will also feel fulfilled.
Finally, wrap everything you do and say in a positive frame. Decide not to complain, but to be grateful for the good that is unfolding in your healing process. The more you concentrate on the positive aspects of your journey through chemo, the greater chance you have to heal faster and better.
Let “the glass is half-full” (not half-empty) be your mantra.
©2012, 2016 Mike Herbert. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
Stay Healthy During Chemo: The Five Essential Steps
by Mike Herbert ND.
About the Author
Mike Herbert is a PhD naturopath with more than 15 years in practice as a wellness consultant, with a particular emphasis on nutrition and natural healing. When his life was touched by cancer, he turned his full attention to investigating cutting-edge studies on the link between cancer and nutrition.