Resilience is the ability to recover from difficulty. It’s an essential life skill and key coping mechanism to help us when frightening, challenging or unpleasant events occur. Tapping into resilience can bring confidence, connection and a sense of control as we continue to navigate our journey.
As you move forward post-treatment, it’s you who determines your “new normal” lifestyle. Now is the time to make conscious choices, to take an active role in planning and contemplating the future, as opposed to being a “passive recipient of life”. It’s your turn to control your future.
You may need to redefine your priorities. You might also want to let go of some things which aren’t important or helpful to you right now.
Consider this: Who makes the rules? Who says you have to clean the floors every day or change your sheets every week? If these things aren’t your priority right now, it’s OK to delegate or delay them. You CAN change the rules and choose what you spend your time doing.
While this process is not without challenges, it’s important for you to initiate positive steps toward the future you envisage. Try breaking down your goals into small, manageable chunks – maybe a week or a month or so at a time, so you aim to achieve things one small step at a time. If things are very tough, getting through each day can be the best way forward.
Most patients report a fear of their cancer returning or progressing. Fear is merely our brain trying to protect us from unpredictability. Managing that fear is the key. You may have limited tools to do that, but you can develop the tools.
For example, when you need to go for scans or other tests, it’s OK to feel stressed. Giving yourself permission to be anxious reduces the burden of the struggle.
Focus on: “What’s a realistic expectation of the situation?”.
Remember to be kind to yourself. What would you say to a friend in this situation? What kind of encouragement would you offer?
If your anxiety is high or if you’re having negative thoughts or feeling helpless, it can be worthwhile talking to your health professional, as there are treatments/strategies which can assist you in handling this.
Having a sense of connection is important, and most of us want to feel a sense of physical comfort.
Your friends and family are often your closest confidants, but they don’t know what you’re going through unless you tell them. Spend some quality time chatting with someone you trust on a regular basis. Remember, most people want to support you – let them know the best way they can do this.
If you’re struggling emotionally, it’s important to be proactive in raising the issue with your health professional. Be sure to ask questions and be completely clear on what you need or expect from your doctor. When required, your GP can refer you to a mental health practitioner on a mental health care plan, with up to 10 visits subsidised by Medicare.
Many patients recommend connecting with a support group, such as MPA, as early as possible after your diagnosis. No matter what stage of the journey you’re at, it can be most helpful to speak to or spend time with other people who understand what you’re going through.
Reference: Strategies for Resilience webinar, 10 August 2021, presented by Professor Jane Turner, Doctor of Philosophy, FRANZCP, MBBS, psycho-oncology professional, psychiatrist and researcher.