Author’s note: One of the biggest changes I made to regain my health after a cancer diagnosis was learning to ask for help. Below is an excerpt from my recently released book, Cancer as a Love Story: Developing the Mindset for Living.
Chapter: “Circles of Support-Asking for Help”
Until my cancer diagnosis, I had done much in my life physically alone—from raising two children as a single parent and the tasks of managing a home, to running two businesses solo. Being super-responsible was my standard mode of operation. I was someone everyone else could lean on. Yet, I often felt excruciatingly lonely.
Growing an inner circle of women friends—“sisters,” spiritual mentors, and guides—helped counter those sad feelings and provide the support and feedback I had given many others in my work as a life coach and workshop leader.
With the surgery challenge ahead, and all the fear I had to push through to stay in a place of calm and self-love, I knew I needed these kind people more than ever. Asking for help—as vulnerable as it felt to do so—became a priority.
Slowly, I put together a list of my confidantes and their contact information. I sent them updates of my health status and each friend stepped up to the plate in unique ways. Some came to doctor appointments with me. Others gifted me massages, alternative healing sessions, and pampering manicure/pedicures. A few did grocery shopping or delivered meals. One girlfriend stayed with me two nights after surgery, taking full charge of my health by cooking nutritious meals. Another took me out to dinner six weeks after recovery, as a celebration of new levels of health.
Flowers, cards, and email notes sustained me during some of the darker moments. The hardest time, like when I was first diagnosed, was alone in bed at night, longing to be held tenderly to ward off scary thoughts about my longevity. What I did not realize initially was that more than just cancerous breast tissue needed to be removed from my body. I was prompted by cancer to physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually release a lifestyle that no longer served me.
1. An online meal planner can be a godsend. It enables you, the patient, to select what types of foods best serve your family’s needs and taste buds.
2. Delegate and allow yourself to receive support. LEARNING TO RECEIVE may be one of your greatest lessons in recovering. Not only is accepting help necessary to give your body time to rest so it can heal faster, but it deepens your connection to one another. Genuine loves involves both giving and receiving. Balance the scales by accepting nurturance and support.
3. Take time to observe love and care in the simplest of moments (like when someone brings you fresh vegetables from their garden).
4. Acknowledge the many ways others show their support for you. (Read The Five Languages of Love to learn different styles.)
5. Accept that you are worthy of such care and appreciate those who provide it.
To order a signed copy, or quantity purchases of my book, email: [email protected].
The above picture of the gorgeous yellow cactus flowers, which represent to me compassionate care, were captured by talented photographer-friend Sharon Spector in Scottsdale, Arizona. To learn more about Sharon’s work, email: [email protected]