Cancer, It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint!

When surgeries and treatment are over it’s time to embark on new territory. Adjusting to life after treatment can be challenging. Treatments and doctor visits stop and in some cases survivors can feel very alone and isolated. You can be left with the feeling of: “What direction do I go in now? I feel so lost!” These feelings and emotions that come up at this stage of the journey are completely valid and normal for what you are going through. Don’t forget, for the last year to two years you have probably been using all of the energy that you have to get from point “A” to “B” and all of your doctors, nurses and other caregivers have become your family over the months and years of treatment. So when the routine ends, of course you are left feeling a little bewildered as to where to turn next.

During this time, your relationships may have also changed along with other changes like career adjustments, eating and exercise habits. You may also be feeling fatigue as a result of anesthesia’s, chemotherapy or hormone therapies. Your energy and engagement definitely feel different as well.

Although this can feel like a downer to most survivors in that moment of discovery, the good news is that we all have choices and there are so many options open to us. Consider this a time for recreating your life and your perspective of how you view your life and how you want to live it moving forward. It is really all an education and growth process. Some of the choices that we can make from the “get go” are letting go of how you “used to do things”, e.g., constantly picking up around the house and making sure laundry is folded immediately and that the house is pristine or whatever your “used to be” modus of operation was. This is the time to learn to let go of the little things take the time to focus on what matters, mainly healing and living! Learn to ask for help, delegate to others and most of all exercise self-care! One of the best ways, aside of physical activity, to decrease fatigue is to decrease stress levels and this may mean doing less, or doing things differently and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can open you up to so much more of what you really want to do. You might also want to give yourself permission to take a break or nap or simply take some “alone” time for yourself to reflect on what is next for you.

I encourage my clients to take a look back and embrace how far they have come, then to look at their old way of doing things to see if those old thoughts and behaviors still serve them. In many cases, your eyes can be opened to a whole new way of living and you might even be wondering why you hadn’t made these choices in the past. The answer to that question really doesn’t matter, what matters is that you realize that you have these choices in the now are you are ready to start acting upon them.

Again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and the process can be an enlightening one! If you need support along the way, contact me!


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/

Source: http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

New Beginnings After Breast Cancer - A Survivor's Story

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/

Source: http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

Leaning Into Gratitude To Cope With A Loved One’s Cancer

Russ Terry

Russ Terry

The C word.  Cancer.  No one wants to hear it, especially from an immediate family member.  A few weeks ago, my Mom phoned with startling news:  her annual mammogram had turned up something “highly suspicious for malignancy.” I was stunned, shaken, sad, upset, scared.  You name it and I felt it – such a range of emotions.  I’m not going to lie or sugar coat it.  It’s been a rough few weeks.

On the positive side, however, there’s so much I have been grateful for in this situation.  Oh, let me count the ways:

1.       I’m grateful that she’s gotten her mammogram every year for 30 years and does a self-exam on the first of every month.  (Great advice for all women!)  Even if it did turn out to be cancer, I was optimistic that it was caught early and hopeful that this time next year we could not only go on the vacation to Italy that we’ve been planning, but could use the occasion to celebrate life, health, how much we love each other, and our Italian heritage, of which we’re very proud!

2.       I’m grateful for an incredibly wise and supportive group of colleagues.  Right before this all happened, I came to know not one or two but THREE people who would prove immensely helpful.  Two are breast cancer survivors and one is an expert on grief.  It’s like God planted them in my life to make sure I was OK.  Wow.

3.       My friends have been excellent.  I’m so grateful for their support, prayers, positive thinking and encouragement.  Thinking about them makes me smile.  So many have passed on good wishes to me, which I have forwarded to my Mom.  She is grateful, too, which makes me even happier to have all of them – and her – in my life.

4.       I’m so glad I have a job that’s flexible and enabled me to be by her side for her pre-lumpectomy consultation with her surgeon.  I’m grateful for the doctor and his calmness, and that my Mom, my sister and my Mom’s significant other could all be there with her.  We even went out to eat afterward, which we otherwise would never have done on a random Wednesday in early August.  It was lovely!

5.       Finally, I’m grateful that we got some very good news within the last few days.  Although Mom does have breast cancer, it has not spread. The surgeon said that he’ll likely be able to get everything out when he does the lumpectomy (on September 11th, please keep us in your prayers), and that she won’t need chemotherapy.  Phew!  What a relief.

When I shared the good news with people who are grappling with more difficult cancer experiences, I felt so guilty.  But they were incredibly happy for me.  I’m grateful
for their generous spirits.

You may get good news.  You may not.  Either way, you can always find something to be grateful for, even in tough situations — and now I know ESPECIALLY in tough situations.

Interesting postscript: I sent this to my Mom for her review before submitting it.  I wanted to make sure she was OK with it.  Here’s what she said: “Even if the diagnosis had been the type that needed chemo and radiation I would still be positive because more and more people are surviving cancer.” So inspiring, right??


For information on Russ, visit his website www.russterrylifecoach.com.

Russ Terry and Grief Coach, Jill Smolowe, are co-hosting an in-person workshop, “The Grief-Gratitude Connection,” to be held in New York City on September 15.  For more info and to purchase tickets, visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-grief-gratitude-connection-strategies-for-easing-the-stress-of-caregiving-and-the-pain-of-loss-tickets-9972777847