I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a while so credit must go to Marie Ennis-O’Connor (@JBBC) for the title of this blog post and indeed the prompt for me to write this. Marie has been including my blog in her weekly round-up for some time now and I am grateful to her as this means I can reach out to a wider audience and hopefully support more people going through breast cancer treatment.
After I was diagnosed with breast cancer and having been signed off work for the foreseeable future, it took a while to rethink how I was to spend my days. I didn’t want cancer to dominate every minute of my time so it was important for me to ensure I was doing some things which make me happy.
I started by making a list (yes, those of you who know me will know me as a list maker) of things I enjoy doing. The list included things such as: learning Spanish, reading, listening to music, playing the keyboard, spending time with family and friends, walking, watching ice hockey and writing. I called it my list of daily activities. It meant that whenever I was consumed with negative thoughts I was able to distract myself by doing one or more of these activities. Unfortunately, cancer treatment has at times made me feel very ill and has caused me to have low/no immunity so I have sometimes been limited as to which of my favourite activities I could take part in. Frustrating but a reality.
As well as my own list of activities, I have gained more ideas of how to spend my time doing nice things, mainly from our Macmillan unit. After numerous visits to the hospital, I had collected some leaflets of various support groups and activities for people going through cancer treatment (and beyond) so I started to attend some of these as well. The following activities are things I have enjoyed or still enjoy taking part in:
Look Good, Feel Better Workshop (one off session)
During this 2 hour session, several beauticians gave advice regarding skincare during chemotherapy, as well as useful tips such as how you can recreate eyebrows when they have fallen out. Every participant came away with a fantastic goody bag full of skincare products and make up.
This is a support group who meet twice a month: once in the afternoon for tea, cake and a chat, and once in the evening where they have guest speakers or workshops. In addition to the regular meetings, they also organise many events, including a summer barbecue, sponsored walk and more. Although this group is local to me, there are bound to be similar groups in other areas.
Beyond the C Choir
The choir meet up once a month and sing songs from well known musicals as well as other famous tunes. They sometimes perform and raise money for the new cancer centre. It’s very relaxed, great fun and we have a cake break halfway through. They tell me singing releases endorphins so it’s a great way to cheer myself up.
So all in all, I am managing to live fully each day by making sure I do at least one thing (and often many more) which I enjoy. I hope it helps some of you out there going through cancer treatment to try to make the most of each day.