So much comes up when we receive our initial cancer diagnosis. I remember receiving mine and I immediately reframed it to taking cancer out of the equation. I told my husband right there in the moment: “this isn’t cancer, this is the boob job I always wanted.” And yes, the tears definitely fell from my eyes throughout the experience, but I kept an Rx of humor in my back pocket along with many other coping skills I had collected over the years.
For me personally, I was able to embrace a positive mindset immediately because of the lengthy and rocky relationship I had with cancer. I was caregiver to my mother who died of complications of being treated with chemo for her stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2001. She passed away and 3 days later I gave birth to my first born. To say the least, this was a very dark period for me but when I came out of it I vowed to turn all of my negative life events into positive ones. This was a conscious choice that I made on how I wanted to live my life moving forward. It helped me shed so much of the negativity that surrounded me as a child. It further lead me to being very proactive in my own health, pursuing genetic testing and becoming a top individual fundraiser for women’s cancers for an organization based in NYC and LA. Then I had the experience of my sister being diagnosed with breast cancer and a year later I received the same diagnosis.
I had a lot of tools to get me through my diagnosis and treatment. However, I still went through the entire process. Initially, I had feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious, followed by doubt and a little depression which ultimately lead me to acceptance. I had doubts on what my life would look like “after cancer” and how people would receive me. Getting through and to all of these emotions is key to getting to a place of peace and acceptance. When you get to that point you are fully able to accept what has been placed on your doorstep so that you can put your efforts into working on what you can control in your life and letting go of what you can’t. What you can do is take control of your health and your life from this point on.
Giving up control of “doing it all” for the sake of others and getting support is also critical, followed by self-care. There is no other way to fully heal unless you learn to go down this path. So many of my clients have trouble giving up the old mindset of: “If I don’t do it myself, it won’t get done” or finally coming to the place where they realize everything they have done up until this point in their lives has been to please others and they rarely do anything for themselves first. They get to a place where they realize that it is “OK” to allow them to receive!
You see, with a cancer diagnosis, not only do thoughts and emotions come up around a diagnosis and treatment, they also come up about who you are at your core. I am not one to minimize the impact of a cancer diagnosis (I saw my mother through her last days in hospice, they are forever etched in my mind and I have had my own physical and emotional journey with breast cancer) but I try to help my clients come to a place where they can see the opportunity to create awareness of who they are, how they are living and how they can use this life altering experiencing to reassess their lives to reduce stress which feeds not only physical healing but in the mind as well and making choices to pursue the life you have always wanted to live. This can include looking at yourself and why you act as you do on a deeper level, looking at your relationships to see which serve you and those that do not, looking at the patterns in your lifestyle that have kept you on the same page and left you wondering why you are still there and so much more. When you go to your core to find out who you really are vs. who you think you should be, magical things can happen.
The next step is taking action and making choices to change your life. The choice is yours!
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/