Ten months ago, I was shockingly diagnosed with breast cancer. Prior to March 13, 2015 (my diagnosis day), I was a busy mom, being busy with my husband, my kids and my job. Free time was spent with my kids, my family and our friends. I was just living my life but then it all changed.
It is difficult enough to be a parent to two young kids, and when you put a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment on top of that it throws you for a loop! As a mother, I’m always worrying about my kids and their well-being. But what about me? To be honest, prior to my diagnosis, I wasn’t a priority, my kids were. But my diagnosis made me shift to making myself a priority as well.
Here are 10 ways I cared for myself while I was going through breast cancer treatments.
1. Release some control in your life to others. This was very hard for me to do but in order for me to worry about myself, I needed the help of others to help with my kids and household. My mother was able to move into my house for a few days following each chemotherapy treatment to help my husband with my kids and the house. This provided me a chance to heal while knowing my kids were well cared for.
2. Have a positive mantra. I took the saying “No Day But Today” from my favourite musical RENT and it became my mantra during my treatments. I would focus on what I needed to do in a day, and get through it. I didn’t worry about what happened yesterday, or what I needed to do tomorrow. It helped a lot.
3. Find alternatives for things that make you feel good. I love massages but I didn’t want my body touched while going through chemotherapy. Instead, I would go for foot massages. They provided me with an hour to be cared for in a way that made me feel good. Foot massages were also a great opportunity to have one-on-one time with my husband or friends and catch up.
4. Colour. If you haven’t tried an adult colouring book yet, I can’t say enough good things about them. I received quite a few as gifts during my treatment, and they provided many hours of relaxation. It was the perfect creative outlet I needed when I didn’t feel like doing much.
5. Have a dance party! My 4-year-old daughter loves to dance and there is nothing she loves more than to put on a great song and have a dance party. It may sound silly but it feels so great just to let go, listen to the beat and let your body move to the music.
6. Sing! I love musicals. On days when I didn’t feel so energetic I knew I would make myself happy by singing one of my favourite musicals on the top of my lungs. It really is so freeing and soothing.
7. Netflix and Podcasts. On days when I didn’t feel well or feel like venturing out, I always knew I could turn on Netflix or listen to some of my favourite podcast series. I knew my body needed a rest.
8. Text/Call/Email a friend. I’m a very social person and it was very important to me to stay connected to my friends. I’m blessed with an amazing group of friends who are caring, thoughtful, but most importantly kept treating me like me pre-cancer diagnosis. I didn’t want to be treated like “the girl with cancer”. I wanted them to treat me like they did before I got diagnosed, and they did.
9. Connect with others in a similar situation. Even though I have a hugely supportive network of family and friends it was important for me to connect with other young women with breast cancer. I was so blessed to be introduced to another young woman who lives near me with a lot of similarities. She has an amazing attitude and it was just so nice to have someone who just “gets you” without even talking about it or having to explain myself.
10. Indulge. There are so many things out there that we should and shouldn’t be doing. Get cancer and that list grows exponentially. But, sometimes you just need to indulge. Want that piece of chocolate cake? Yes! You deserve it. Everything in moderation but it’s so important to indulge too!
These are 10 things that I have done since last March. Now that my treatments are over, I continue to make time for myself and do things that make me feel good. No matter what your life situation is, I hope that these 10 ways will inspire you to make small changes and find “me” time in your life every day.