by Scott Sanders (guest author)
A cancer diagnosis is devastating but it isn’t a death sentence (in most cases). Myeloproliferative Neoplasms, MPNs, are treatable and with self-care, the long-term impact on your daily life can be reduced. Taking care of your body and mind is essential to surviving and living well.
One of the worst things you can do is panic and make major decisions about your medical care. It’s important to stay calm and take the time to digest your diagnosis. You will need to learn coping strategies and to do that you’ll need to slow down, understand your options, process what it means and focus on living one day at a time.
Working out can give you energy, lift your mood, and keep your body strong. Of course, you may not always feel like it. If you can’t exercise, consider stretching. In fact, just a few minutes of easy stretches can “activate your body’s natural relaxation response.” It works your muscles and your mind to release tension, ease pain and stiffness, and improve circulation. Walking is also highly recommended.
Write down your feelings
It can be difficult to completely wrap your head around how you feel upon being diagnosed with the “Big C.” Keeping a journal can help you stay aware of your emotions so you can better manage your reactions to them. You don’t have to write about your cancer in every entry – decide what you want to write about and jot down your thoughts.
Unfortunately, pain is part of the package. It’s likely that you will be prescribed medications to help manage discomfort. Opioids, a type of painkiller commonly prescribed to cancer patients, are highly addictive and should be taken with care and on the schedule provided by your physician. Opioid abuse can be fatal, the side effects of dependency may be more damaging than the disease itself.
Nourish your body
Diseases of the body (like cancer) may be caused by outside factors, such as smoking, drinking, or eating too many of the wrong types of food. Likewise, maintaining a healthy diet may prevent additional health conditions. Prevention’s A Doctor’s Quest To Heal His Own Cancer With Food goes into great detail regarding how certain types of nutrition can keep the body healthy and strong.
Feed the soul
Your spiritual and emotional wellness is just as important as your physical health. If you go to church or synagogue, consider speaking with your congregation’s elders for spiritual guidance. Also consider joining MPN Facebook support groups, which can help you connect with fellow patients. They can offer support, guidance and give you an opportunity to talk through your feelings.
Listen to the world
In addition to taking time out to process your diagnosis, you should also make mindfulness a priority. Mindfulness is simply the practice of living in the moment and listening to your body, mind, and the world around you. There is no one way to practice mindfulness that works for everyone. You might sit in a quiet room and do controlled breathing exercises, listen to your favorite music, or simply decrease your everyday distractions.
Taking care of yourself with cancer is an ongoing task. So remember there are numerous methods of coping that you may find helpful. Try to take on your new life with a positive attitude.