I was at a conference this weekend, among a group of women who had metastatic breast cancer. The courage and the fear that these women had was amazing! They all came to the discussion wanting answers to individual questions and the group provided a safe place for them to share all of their fears and accomplishments. It was amazing how at the beginning of the discussion the energy was kind of wary in the room, but by the end of the discussion there was a sense of unity among the group!
One woman expressed how she had beat the disease for many years without recurrence, but now because of that length of time that had gone by, she had a feeling that “the other shoe might drop” and that maybe it was time for her disease to recur. She also expressed that if and when she passed from her disease she was concerned about all of the grief and pain her children would have to endure.
Fear of recurrence is a very real, valid and normal feeling for survivors of any cancer and it is always there lurking in the back of one’s mind. As a survivorship coach it was amazing what the group, myself included, tried to share with this woman and that was to shift her perspective to not seeing the length of her “well-being” as a fear, but more of an accomplishment of all of the achievements since her diagnosis and perhaps the longer “out” since diagnosis and treatment she was, how much better life could be. We also shared a change of perception of why not enjoying her children and have her children enjoy her in the here and now in lieu of thinking about the future, which often causes fear and anxiety.
For myself, I will admit, fear of recurrence is always there for me, but I don’t live my life daily in that state or rather I reframe my thoughts so see and live a better picture. I have learned that there are triggers for me that prompt my fear of recurrence. Since I have had so many losses in my life, e.g., divorce, loss of my mom and days later giving birth to my daughter, and via the diagnosis of breast cancer and losing the “old me” that when things start going well for me and in a very energetic direction, that is when my fear of recurrence comes in. Somewhat like this woman, when things are going my way, thoughts like: “Omg, things are going so well, this is too good to be true, my cancer must be coming back!!!” come up for me. This can be a very real and frightening experience and it can bring you back to the day of diagnosis. When these draining thoughts come up for me I catch myself and tell myself that the messages that I am hearing are my “trigger points” and that they are coming from an old voice inside of my head that is no longer serving me. Once I get to this place I am able to shift and refocus my thoughts to the here and now.
If you think about it, the here and now is all any of us really have so why not inhale and embrace every moment of it. Just remember a few things: you are not alone and all of the thoughts, feelings that are coming up for you are perfectly valid and normal for where you are. The thing is, you have a choice to change your thoughts and that can change your life!
If you are need some support in your journey in this regard, reach out to me or another professional. You can live a life of peace and happiness with cancer. Cancer does not define you, you define you and changing your thoughts can create sustainable change for you!
Coaching provides a safe, confidential environment for you to share your experiences, while collecting tools to shift your perspective from draining thoughts to healing thoughts. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit my fb page: facebook.com/ginacostacoach, visit my website: email@example.com or just give me a call 917-882-2402.
Gina Costa, CPC, ELI-MP is the founder of New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC, which helps women diagnosed with breast cancer cope, step by step, with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so they gain confidence and feel in control of their life again. To learn more about Gina and her coaching practice, visit http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/