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When Cancer Strikes, it’s your Relationship with it that Counts

Cancer. For many people, the thought of cancer or the word itself can evoke fear and emotional distress. So, how do you ease this fear and distress? The answer might lie in your relationship with cancer.

Consider the following:

Let go of any judgments. Our bad relationship with cancer is normal, because it’s rooted in human nature. Throughout history, determining what was good or bad was essential to survival. So, it’s natural to struggle with something perceived as a life threat. One way to reduce the struggle with cancer, is to notice when you judge it as bad and practice letting go of that judgment. This can help you change your relationship with cancer. Over time, you will begin to view it as an experience instead of a bad experience.

Don’t fight cancer, ease through. Easing through doesn’t mean giving up. It just means you are calm and peaceful while you let the treatments fight it for you. Spending all your time fighting will be exhausting. So, don’t view cancer as a fight. Your job is to take care of you.

Be present. With a cancer diagnosis, looking ahead can be scary. The future is often uncertain, without all the answers. When you find yourself looking ahead, try narrowing your focus, making contact with the present moment, and being still. You can do this through meditation or by being present in nature, using all your senses. Stillness is one of the most powerful ways to develop a peaceful relationship with cancer.

Engage your noticing part. Viewing yourself as having two parts can be helpful. One part is your thinking part, which serves a useful function by helping you solve problems and figure things out. However, it can go into “overdrive” when struggling with something that does not have an easy answer, like cancer. The other part is your noticing part. Engaging this part can help you notice when you’re struggling and entangled with your thoughts. From this vantage point, you can simply watch what’s going on or choose to do something different. Engage your noticing part throughout the day.

Be open to your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Given them space. When you’re open, you’re not distressed.

Be flexible. With cancer, you may have to change plans or course from time-to-time. That’s to be expected and that’s okay. Being flexible means you won’t be distressed when this happens.

Determine what’s important to you. Quit doing things that aren’t not working for you, decide what’s important, and take small steps toward the important things. Your relationship with cancer will be much better when you’re doing what matters to you.

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