Thymoma patient: Advice for cancer patients who feel discouraged
ANNA MASTEN JACKSON
Discouragement is one of those common experiences that we have all faced at some time or another. But when you're fighting cancer, discouragement is no small threat.
Because it can be such a powerful force, I tried to learn to recognize it and be prepared to deal with it throughout my cancer treatment.
When I was diagnosed with stage IV thymoma, I began to note the various situations that set me up for discouragement. As a cancer patient, I can experience all of those conditions in one day. I learned a few tricks to keep those conditions from making me vulnerable.
Here is what I learned.
When sick and tired:
I have to take good care of myself. I try to rest when my body needs rest, eat healthy foods, and stay physically active when I up to it. My grandmother always said that a little sunshine was good for the soul. On days I feel puny, I try to at least get out and walk around my backyard. If I focus on how I feel, I tend to feel worse, so I do my best to focus on being well.
Worry is such a great source of discouragement. It is like a rocking chair -- you work really hard, but you don't get anywhere. It's difficult sometimes, but I try to keep my thoughts active on the things I can control and not on the parts that I cannot. When I find my mind spinning with worry, I copy lyrics from songs or verses from the Bible that help me. I focus on my family or my work. It is hard to worry when my mind is focused on something else.
This one is a whopper. Fear can lead me to discouragement faster than a match can lead to fire. My thymoma diagnosis is probably one of the most frightening things I have ever faced, but I have learned that much of what I fear may never be a reality. I try to take things one step at a time. I trust my doctors to make good decisions for me, and I talk to people who help me keep this perspective.
When something seems impossible:
Common sense may tell us that there is just no resolution for the problem we face. That's when, for me, it's so easy to give up. But my faith reminds me that all things are possible. I remind myself of the seemingly impossible things that happen every day, and I find hope.
Discouragement makes my goals more difficult to achieve, so I try to find encouragement wherever possible.
Cancer is a formidable foe, but great things happen every day.