The importance of Self-Care

Fighting cancer and undergoing chemotherapy can take a toll on not only your body, but also your wellbeing in general. It can often feel like you are stuck on the hamster wheel of endless doctor’s appointments, infusions, tests and treatments. On top of that, you need to manage your side effects, fatigue and everything else.

You can’t just take a day off from cancer. Impossible.

While you are in treatment, it consumes your time. You think about all the time, one way or another, because you don’t feel well, you have another appointment, you are waiting for test results and what not.

How do you take care of yourself in the midst of all this?

Make choices: From very early on in my process, I made a clear choice that cancer was not going to consume my life. My intention was to keep my life normal and as regular as possible.

Focusing on the normalcy created a distraction and cancer would not dominate my life. It was part of it.

I choose to continue to work throughout my treatment. I would work reduced hours during radiation, and I would be off on Monday’s following my AC treatments.

Self-Compassion: The side effects of chemo didn’t allow me to function at a hundred percent. I am highly perfectionistic, and I found this difficult to deal with. When I realized, that the only person putting these high demands on myself was me.

I gave myself a break.

Instead of judging myself, I was kind to myself. It is ok you don’t finish something right now. It’s ok that you need to take a nap. It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok.

Have fun: Just because you have cancer doesn’t mean you have to stop having fun and enjoying yourself. One of the things that really energizes me is going on a trip and with permission of my oncologist I went on a cruise (on the off week of my AC chemo).

My chemo was during the holidays, and I really wanted to be with my family. The issue is that they live in the Netherlands and I live in Miami. I spoke with my oncologist and we decided together to skip one week of the Taxol regiment so I could go home and surprise my family on Christmas morning.

Say no: A lot of people, with the best intentions, want to come and see you. Stop by the house. Go for lunch. Invite you for dinner. It is amazing to have these types of friends and you need to take care of yourself and that sometimes means, you need to say no. Don’t say yes because you “feel bad” for them. If they are your real friends, they will understand you need to take care of yourself.

You are your number one priority!

It’s very easy to fall in the trap of taking care of others, your work etc. Maybe this is part of your personality. Many people feel selfish if they make themselves more important than others, but that’s not what being your number one priority is about. It is not about being more important.

It’s about rearranging your priorities, so you are taken care of first.

You are fighting this disease and you want the best possible outcome and in order to achieve that, you take care of yourself first!

Are you taking care of yourself?

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