This week I attended Ovarian Cancer 101’s Gynecological Cancers Support Group. The meeting is one that always fosters support, understanding, and compassion. Attendees are dealing with different Cancers, and are at varied stages of their illness – some in treatment, some in remission, some just newly diagnosed. People can share, or just listen, as we help each other to deal with issues that come up from both the Cancer and the treatments. Ideas and strategies for working through issues are shared, as well as ways to navigate the many emotions that surface during this time.
Having Cancer can be a very isolating experience. You can even feel isolated from your old self, as you wonder where your healthy body went, and where your energy and stamina disappeared to. You can feel very much adrift in a sea of fear and stress, as you try to summon up the motivation to move forward, one day at a time. This group creates a haven of trust and empathy, led by our courageous leader Lisa. She moves us gently and compassionately through our discussions, guiding us as we help each other search for answers, techniques, and tools to help each of us with our individual issues.
This week Lisa shared the importance of focusing on gratitude as a strategy to help us zero in on all the good we have in our lives. Using this gratitude can offset the negative emotions we sometimes feel, and help us to remember all that is good in our lives, and all that Cancer cannot take away. Lisa shared several exercises that I have been doing for the last couple of days, and that have already impacted me in beneficial ways. Listing 10 things you are grateful for, thinking of your challenges and what you are learning from them, listing people you are thankful for, and thinking of the best part of your day, are just a few of the ways you can focus on what you are grateful for.
Worry is another problem we face. Lisa shared a wonderful strategy of setting aside 5 minutes of each day to think about all your worries. When the 5 minutes are up, you put your worries aside, and move on. Because I am so tactile, I actually write my worries down on a sheet of paper, then burn them! If the worries surface during the day, I picture the flames and it helps me to “thought stop” the worrisome thoughts.
If you are local and need support, think about joining us. We meet the first Tuesday of every month at CapeSpace in Hyannis, 100 Independence Drive (entrance is in the back of the building). If you are not local, think about finding a group near you that you can join. The feeling of community and friendship will lift your spirits, and you will feel that you are contributing to something bigger than you. I highly recommend it.
‘Til Next Time,