Guest Blogger: Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness Are Necessities When Dealing With Cancer


This article is written by Scott Sanders.  Scott is the creator of CancerWell.Org, which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer.

If you are dealing with cancer, you’re likely dealing with a lot of emotions. Aside from the physical effects, your mind and soul can be impacted as well. That’s why self-care and spiritual wellness can help you manage your condition. If you need a little more guidance, here are a few suggestions to help you stay strong.

Stress Relief is Important

As someone dealing with cancer, you’re no stranger to stress. Dealing with the diagnosis, pondering your prognosis and mapping out a treatment plan can all make you feel overwhelmed. Add this to the burdens of everyday life, and you have a recipe for a staggering amount of stress. Relieving this stress is at the core of self-care. You have to find simple ways to combat the pressures and positive ways to cope with negative moments in your life. Hobbies can be a wonderful way tame tension. Try starting a small garden or consider adopting a pet to take care of the stress in your life.

Addiction Can Be a Danger

Medications are likely to be a part of your life, but it’s important to avoid addiction. If your doctor prescribes medications to help relieve your pain, be careful with how you use them. Opioid pain medications can be highly addictive, even when taken as directed, and can lead to some very serious health consequences. These high-powered painkillers can be even be deadly when abused or not used carefully.

 Sleep is Essential

 If you’re dealing with the discomfort of cancer, getting a good night’s sleep can be complicated. You may have a hard time getting comfortable or have trouble settling your mind down. Still, sleep is vital to maintaining strength so try to find ways to encourage your body to rest. Some people find softer sheets to be more comfortable on their skin, and cooler temperatures could help your body relax in the evenings. You can try soothing essential oil blends or teas to help tame any tension that is preventing you from getting to sleep. If all else fails, consult your doctor for ways to get the rest you need.

Peace Can Be Freeing

Spiritual wellness is always important, but it can be even more beneficial for those with cancer. Whether you subscribe to religion or seek another form of spirituality, the connected and mindful practices can bring a calm to your life. Attend religious services if that seems to help or develop practices on your own. You can use quiet moments to pray or meditate at home. Meditation can have powerful grounding and pain relief properties, so make it a part of your normal routine.

Exercise is Essential

 Cancer takes strength and energy from your body. The only remedy is to get a little exercise each day. Even something as simple as an evening walk or gentle yoga can help you feel stronger. Aside from building your body, exercise also helps your brain produce valuable endorphins. These chemicals are essential for pain reduction and feelings of happiness, so find activities that boost your happy hormones. If it helps, ask your doctor about working with a physical therapist to make activity easier for you.

Therapy Can Improve Mental Health 

The physical effects of cancer can be obvious. The mental effects can’t be seen but they can be felt just the same. Many times, the emotional impact of dealing with cancer can be even more overwhelming than the physical symptoms. You may feel lost, hurt, angry or depressed after your diagnosis. It can be comforting to talk to someone about all the feelings and thoughts racing through your mind. Find a counselor who can help you work through your emotional pain and think about reaching out to a support group. Gaining mental clarity can be good for your mind, body and soul.

Spiritual wellness and self-care may seem trivial when you are facing something as serious as cancer. But taking care of yourself is the only way to stay strong and positive through this plight. Minor changes to your daily routine can help you feel more stable in your mind, your body and your soul as you travel down this uncertain path.

Photo Credit: Unsplash


Guest Blogger: 8 Ways To Support A Loved One With Cancer

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“8 Ways to Support a Loved One with Cancer”

This article is written by Scott Sanders.  Scott is the creator of CancerWell.Org, which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, three out of four families will include someone who receives a cancer diagnosis. If you’ve got a friend or family member who’s undergoing cancer treatment, here are some of the ways you can help.

Advocate for the best treatment.
Assist your loved one in researching doctors and options. Accompany them to doctor’s appointments; take notes, ask questions. Help research treatment options—and don’t rule out alternative therapies, like acupuncture, massage, nutritional counseling, yoga, meditation, and guided imagery, that help patients deal with treatment side effects and the disease itself.

With the rise in opioid addiction, also be mindful of painkiller usage. Your loved one may express concern that he doesn’t want to rely on strong painkillers, but there are precautions that reduce the possibility of addiction.

Don’t worry so much about what to say.
Just be there. You won’t be able to fix everything—that’s impossible. But be present. Your presence gives emotional, spiritual, social, and even physical support, and that’s invaluable. So is the relief of your loved one knowing they can relax, be themselves, and express their emotions without worrying about how someone else may react.

Offer practical help.
Don’t wait for your loved one to ask—and don’t just ask what they need. Do you have kids the same age as your loved one? Collect them for a playdate. Are you heading to the grocery store? Grab her grocery list, too. If you’re a natural organizer, use one of the online apps to coordinate a meal train. Synch your calendars so you know their chemo and doctor’s appointments and can check in or send a little card or gift as a pick-me-up.

Channel flexibility.
Ask your loved one what he needs—and don’t stress if those needs suddenly (or frequently) change. Ask specific questions, like:

  • Should I visit today? If so, what time is best?
  • Do you want company during your treatment?
  • Would you like someone to sit with you one or two nights a week?
  • Can I take you to dinner/a yoga class/for a massage?
  • Do you want to go for a walk after dinner?
  • Can I bring you dinner? If so, what sounds good?

Put those logistics skills to good use.
Use social media or a web-based app to keep everyone in the loop and updated. Organize a list of helpers who can take your loved one to doctor’s and treatment appointments, help clean the house, bring meals, take care of kids, throw in a load of laundry, run errands, or anything else she might need.

Keep supporting your loved one.
Very often, when people are dealing with a new cancer diagnosis and its initial treatments, they’re surrounded by people offering to help. However, your loved one will need support throughout the entire continuum. That’s where logistics also play a huge part—keeping everyone updated and informed and spreading out help and support among many people so no one caregiver feels overwhelmed and stressed.

Gift thoughtfully.
Food sounds great, but treatments often result in nausea or vomiting that make eating very unappealing. Your loved one might appreciate books, music, magazines or puzzles, an Amazon gift card, or a gift certificate for a massage or float therapy. Consider asking several friends and family to chip in to hire a cleaning service for a few weeks or months.

Take care of yourself.
When you’re worried about and helping someone else who’s fighting cancer, it’s a challenge to remember to take time for yourself, especially if you’re one of your loved one’s main caregivers. However, it’s critical that you do so. You can’t predict the range of emotions you’ll experience: guilt, hope, hopelessness, sadness, worry, anxiety, depression, grief, anger, denial, loneliness. But your mind does need a break. Look for positives and allow yourself to laugh. Check out this resource from the National Cancer Institute for self-care ideas.

A cancer diagnosis—whether it’s breast, lung, prostate, liver or another cancer—changes everything. Everyone plunges into a new world of medical terms and treatment plans. The emotional (and other) support you provide to your loved one is as priceless and valuable as any treatment protocol.

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