From Fear to Hope
Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls;
the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Based on founder David Benzer’s personal experience, the following resources are provided to address the fear and anxiety inherent in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the following 6 areas. How to:
- Stay strong and positive
- Manage fear and anxiety
- Understand the need to “Stay out of your own way”
- Focus on the here-and-now and not what might happen
- Use distractions such as visual distractions and music to provide comfort, ease anxiety, and reduce pain
- Continue to experience the good things in life – to have something to look forward to
Cancer is a word, not a sentence.
The ability to keep a strong, positive, outlook in the midst of fighting cancer is a daunting task. Understand, that we are not advocating a false persona, rather an informed awareness of the ability to determine your attitude in the face of adversity. Importantly, the ability to keep a positive attitude benefits not only your mind but your body in fighting disease.
Positive thinking: Reduce stress by eliminating negative self-talk
Article from the Mayo Clinic on Positive Thinking
The Mayo Clinic Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health. Practice overcoming negative self-talk with examples provided.
To purchase the book “The Power of Positive Thinking”, click here.
The classic text by Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking has helped millions of people worldwide in mastering the problems of everyday life through his insightful program. While not specific to cancer or illness, his techniques are applicable to all stressful situations.
I don’t think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains.
Manage Fear and Anxiety
Fear can be overwhelming when facing cancer. Taking things one day at a time and recognizing what you can and can’t control are ideas that make sense everyday but are especially important in managing the fear and anxiety of cancer.
Managing Fear and Uncertainty while Living with Cancer
Good Therapy Blog: Managing Fear
An excerpt from the post: “For many people, having cancer divides their life in two: before and after. Before cancer, they may have been blissfully unaware of their own mortality. After cancer, they realize that life is indeed finite; that nothing is guaranteed nor should be taken for granted. They have been shaken to their very core. What was once a very predictable life with a routine now feels like a life built on a foundation of sand.” Read more from this article by a therapist who works with cancer patients to help them manage fear and anxiety.
Cancer on the Brain
A New York Times blog post by David Ropeik discusses the anxiety and fear pervasive in the experience of cancer.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.
Stay Out of Your Own Way
Don’t spend time worrying about things you can’t control. Often, when facing a serious illness, a person calls to mind every frightening thing that could happen and reacts accordingly. Instead, focus on the things that one can control and what is happening at this minute. When we focus on the fear of what might be, the mind tries too hard, thinks too much and overanalyzes things that are not under a person’s control.
“It’s not the situation that’s causing your stress; it’s your thoughts, and you can change that right here and now.
You can choose to be peaceful right here and now.
Peace is a choice, and it has nothing to do with what other people do or think.”
~ Gerald Jampolsky
Focus on the Here and Now
Focusing on the fear of what could happen in the future prevents us from staying focused on making the here and now all that it can be.
The Art of Now, Six Steps for living in the Moment
Psychology Today article about living in the moment
We live in the age of distraction. Yet one of life’s sharpest paradoxes is that your brightest future hinges on your ability to pay attention to the present.
One Moment at a Time
Article from mindful.org about taking one moment at a time
From post on the mindful.org website: “I spent hours with two internal voices locked in combat -one voice convinced I could not stay sane till morning and the other willing me to do so. It was an incredibly intense, brittle, heart-breaking experience.”
“Then, suddenly, my experience completely changed when I heard a quiet inner voice saying: You don’t have to get through till morning; you only have to get through the present moment. It was like a house of cards collapsing, revealing the space that had been present all along, if only I could have recognized it. My experience immediately changed from an agonized, contracted state to one that was soft and rich-despite the physical pain. At that moment of relaxing into the present moment, just as it was, I intuitively knew I had tasted something true.
The first thing is to learn to distinguish between primary and secondary suffering. Primary suffering is any unpleasant physical sensations you may experience as a consequence of illness, injury, fatigue etc. You may not be able to do anything about this level of suffering and the task is to accept it and make peace with it as best you can. Secondary suffering is the human anguish we all experience as a reaction to primary suffering: feelings like anger, fear, depression, anxiety and despair that we instinctively pile on top of any unpleasant sensation or event in a dense web of reactivity.
“The power of music to integrate and cure. . . is quite fundamental.
It is the profoundest nonchemical medication.”
Use Distractions to Ease Anxiety and Reduce Pain
Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic distractions can ease anxiety and reduce pain. These ideas form the basis of the Foundation’s Immediate Impact Program. By providing visual and audio distractions in cancer clinic waiting rooms, our goal is to create comfort and ease anxiety every time a person comes to the clinic. Beautiful visual images and music help create a positive state of mind. Here are some additional references and resources on using distractions to ease anxiety and reduce pain.
Music Therapy Relieves Health Anxiety
Article from psychcentral.com on music therapy
An innovative program from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center uses music therapy to help heal patients’ spirits as well as their bodies
Music Immunity and Cancer
Article from Science Direct
Music reduced the suppressive effects of stress on immune parameters in mice and decreased the enhancing effects of stress on the development of lung metastases provoked by carcinosarcoma cells. Music enhanced the immune parameters and the anti-tumor response in unstressed rodents. Our data at present demonstrates that music can effectively reverse adverse effects of stress on the number and capacities of lymphocytes that are required for an optimal immunological response against cancer in rodents.
10 Drug-Free Ways to Tune Out Pain
An article on Caring.com that discusses a number of ways to distract you from pain including music, hypnosis, controlled breathing, therapy dogs, and spiritual practices.
Music Therapy information from The American Cancer Society
Article from cancer.org on alternative therapies
There is evidence that, when used with conventional treatment, music therapy can help to reduce pain and relieve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. It may also relieve stress and provide an overall sense of well-being. Some studies have found that music therapy can lower heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.
“It has been said that we need just three things in life: Something to do,
Something to look forward to, And someone to love.”
Continue to Experience the Good Things in Life
The Key to Happiness- Something to Look Forward To
The Happiness Project is the website of author Gretchen Rubin. Here’s a snippet of her discussion of having something to look forward to:
My First Splendid Truth is: to tackle happiness, you must think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth. Having something to look forward to makes you “feel good” and may also give an “atmosphere of growth” to your life, because the future seems bright.
Also, my Third Splendid Truth is that… happiness is a four-fold path, or a house with four stories, or a four-petalled flower – any ideas for poetic yet appropriate imagery to use?
Well, for now, I’ll just say that the Third Splendid Truth is: there are four stages for enjoying a happy event:
– anticipation (looking forward to it)
– savoring (enjoying it in the moment – remember to turn off your cell phone!)
– expression (sharing your pleasure with others, to heighten your experience)
– reflection (looking back on happy times – so take pictures)
Read more on her site about this and other happiness ideas.
Cancer Emotions Blog by Patsy
Link to Blog
A cancer patient shares her experience of the importance of having something to look forward to, in her case; she plans trips that she will take.”It gives me something to focus on, instead of cancer. It also reinforces my ability to be independent. But most of all, it’s proof that I am living a fun life filled with the anticipation of new things.”
5 Ways Oncology Massage Can Help Cancer Patients
Link to article about the power of massage
Human touch is not a luxury; it is a basic human need. The power of touch can be used to soothe and provide comfort to those who feel uneasy. In this same way, massage can provide a healing touch to help patients work through their feelings and gain a sense of comfort during a challenging time. In addition to increasing relaxation, reducing pain and muscle tension and increasing lymphatic drainage, massage gives patients something to look forward to.