75 Tips for Coping with Cancer
In honor of our 75 years of service, our staff and board members compiled 75 tips for those impacted by cancer! Read on to find advice from those who have walked the cancer journey as a patient, caregiver, survivor, or supporter.
1. Focus on the things that you can control and let go of the things you cannot control.
2. Put personal needs equal to others’ needs.
3. Engage in stress reliever activities (i.e., relaxation exercises or listening to music).
4. Listen to your body. Relax when you are overloaded.
5. Have a good sense of humor. Watch funny movies or cartoons.
6. Discuss the problems with a trusted person.
7. Exhale slowly.
8. Be in the present moment.
9. Drink an 8oz glass of water before your morning coffee.
10. Pair every meal with 1/2 cup fresh fruit or non-starchy veggies.
11. Eating outside in the sunshine or eating with others can help improve appetite.
12. Instead of always trying to get to the gym, focus on movement that you enjoy throughout the day
13. Develop a refreshing “Mocktail” to sip and enjoy in a fun glass, of course!
14. Give YOURSELF grace.
15. Always accept help! (i.e., “Can I bring you dinner on Tuesday night?” Your answer: “YES, please!”)
16. Keep a journal of your meditation experiences.
17. Here is a great mindfulness meditation to help reduce anxiety. Begin by finding a place to sit where you will not be disturbed. Sit with your spine fairly straight but relaxed, breathe normally, and notice your breath as you breathe in and out. Try to focus on the breath and if your thoughts wander, return to the breath. Continue to focus on your breathing for about 3 minutes. You can gradually increase this meditation to 10-15 minutes.
18. Don’t fret over things that are out of your control. Do what’s in your hands to do, then release and find peace.
19. Many who enter into their journey with cancer will often drop everything to resolve the problem at hand. However, it’s important not to drop the things that bring you joy and happiness. For instance, if your friends and family bring you joy, don’t isolate yourself when you’re feeling depressed, but instead surround yourself with the very people (or things) that bring you joy. Self-care will help you to get through this trying time.
20. Remember that family, friends, medical professionals, and community members are here to help you.
21. Never feel embarrassed or reluctant to ask for help. YOU are the very reason charitable organizations (like us!) exist. We are here to help you!
22. Worry about today and let tomorrow take care of itself. You’ll stress yourself out worrying too much about the future.
23. Never try to find a reason for why this has happened to you (i.e., why me?). You’ll find yourself more confused than when you started.
24. Don’t put off health checkups for fear of the unknown. If you think there’s an existing problem, it’s better to deal with it now, as opposed to later. Ignoring the problem at hand could actually cause it to get bigger.
25. Take advantage of counseling (i.e., offered by your employer, medical facility, or local charity).
26. Apply for financial assistance through charitable organizations.
27. Take advantage of your resources. Enroll in support groups.
28. Read educational articles from reputable sites (i.e., American Cancer Society) to aid you in your journey.
29. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions. You should never leave your appointment not knowing the full details of your diagnosis, prognosis, treatment plan, expected side effects, and such forth. When it comes to the health of your body, you should know everything your doctor knows about you.
30. If you’re not sure that the doctor’s report is accurate, it’s okay to seek a 2nd opinion.
31. There will come times when you’ll have to be your own advocate. Do not blindly accept medical bills without first having looked over them for errors.
32. Never be afraid to share bodily issues and concerns with your doctor. Your doctor can only treat and assess issues that they are aware of.
33. Consult a Registered Dietitian for nutrition information to help manage cancer-related side effects.
34. Watch something that makes you laugh and forget what you are going through just for the time being.
35. Keep a daily journal.
36. Read books that lift your spirits.
37. Write positive affirmations on sticky notes and put them in unexpected places (like inside the cupboard or on your steering wheel) so that when you find them, they bring you a little joy!
38. Set aside 5 minutes in the evening for some “you time” (i.e., a snack on your patio or a short, guided meditation).
39. Any time you stop at a stoplight, turn your music up loud and DANCE or SING the whole time! Rock out!
40. Find gratitude in the day-to-day (i.e., a reliable ride to treatment, supportive friends, and safe housing to recover in are all blessings to be thankful for).
41. Celebrate the little wins (i.e., each day of completed treatment is a feat worth celebrating).
42. Always be mindful of the unnecessary stress and exertion you are putting on your body. Even stress has its effects on the body.
43. Never feel like you’re a burden to anyone. It’s important to ask for help during times of need. If you are always at work, how will you ever have time to rest, heal, and recover?
44. Treat yourself. Take on a day at the spa with your friends. Even a small treat like a bouquet of roses could brighten your day. Just make sure the things you’re treating yourself to aren’t a strain to you later (i.e., financially burdensome, harmful to the body, etc.).
45. It’s okay to ask for prayer or well wishes. Knowing that you have the spiritual and emotional support of others can bring some relief.
46. Be mindful of your self-talk. Be kind to yourself. Never say anything to yourself that you’d never say to anyone else. In the same way that you’re mindful of other’s feelings, it’s important for you to be mindful of your feelings. Your body, soul, and spirit deserve mindfulness and respect too.
47. Create your own POWER WORDS like acceptance, journey, hero, warrior, and ninja!
48. Try not to forget about the importance of laughter.
49. Manage your mind by asking yourself, “What am I doing that is helpful?” and “What am I doing that isn’t working well for me?”
50. Increase self-awareness by identifying triggers (i.e., appointments, people, dates, seasons, and hot topics).
51. Redirect your thinking by talking through the fear.
52. Change “What if’s” to “What is” (focus on the facts).
53. Change “What if’s” to “Then what” (let the worst-case scenario play out in your head and make a plan for how you can handle it).
54. Build a tolerance for uncomfortable feelings and the unknowns.
55. Connect events to needs instead of feelings. Practice self-care or let someone know when or how they can help when you need it most to avoid feelings of loneliness.
56. Break time into manageable chunks (i.e., a plan for making it to lunchtime or even smaller hourly pieces).
57. Sort thoughts into past, present, and future (let the past stay in the past and give yourself permission to ‘bookmark’ future thoughts to think through at another time when you’re ready).
58. Daily think of “I am…”, “I can…”, and “I will…” statements.
59. Show yourself grace and compassion along the journey.
60. Move with the shifts of the journey allowing yourself to let go of negative thinking.
61. Set boundaries for yourself and others – saying “NO” is okay.
62. Love yourself as much and as often as you need. Surround yourself with those that show you love.
63. Give yourself permission to rest; Rest is medication.
64. Find time to connect with what brings you joy.
65. Use your voice to ask for what you need.
66. Spend time outside on good weather days as often as possible! The blue sky and sunshine are good for disarming any negative mood. You’ll become distracted by the nature around you!
67. Use group texts, emails, or social media to provide updates. It takes far less emotional and physical energy to tell everyone the same thing all at once than repeating details over and over again.
68. Take up the offer for help from others when it is presented.
69. Keep a sense of normalcy in your routine but don’t be afraid to modify activities.
70. Connect to others with cancer.
71. Set time aside to be alone and relax or process your thoughts.
72. Don’t try to remain upbeat if you’re not- it’s okay to have bad days and not always be optimistic. Balancing your emotions involves accepting both the good and the bad feelings.
73. Ask your loved ones what they think or how they feel, so you can both become comfortable talking about cancer.
74. Seek out online communities and in-person connections.
75. Reach out to your local cancer care center!