(Family Features) What if after surviving your first cancer diagnosis at the age of 51, you were re-diagnosed just 18 months later? Metastatic colorectal cancer patient Dave Johnson experienced that first-hand, and was initially reluctant and scared to tell his family, friends and co-workers.
However, he soon learned two important lessons – that he had more support around him than he thought, and that he could control his lifestyle and personal harmony. Now at the age of 53, Johnson, a full-time banker, has discovered a new sense of inner well-being and, according to his physician, is again cancer free.
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Many people find achieving personal harmony and balance difficult – the demands and stresses of everyday life often impede the ability to find inner peace. For those facing a cancer diagnosis, achieving that balance may feel impossible. And, yet, it is as important, if not more, for people living with cancer to find and maintain a sense of inner harmony.
After being diagnosed with an advanced form of colorectal cancer, Johnson knew he had to fight the disease head on, from both a medical and mental perspective. Johnson worked with his physician to choose his treatment, and made the conscious decision to focus on areas of his life he felt he could control.
“Setting goals and priorities, as well as staying active, became very important to me, and helped me accept my diagnosis as my ‘new normal,’” said Johnson. “The ability to fulfill goals and keep both my mind and body busy helped me focus on the sweet spots in life that give me strength and joy.”
Johnson also said expressing his emotions was important to regaining his balance. “There were many days when I could have said ‘why me’ and focused my energy on feelings of anger and resentment,” said Johnson. “I’d let myself experience those feelings but I made a point of expressing those emotions and then moving on, which helped me maintain mental clarity. Additionally, my faith helped me accept the challenges I was going through.”
Tips to achieving personal harmony and balance during cancer include:
· Express your emotions: Make a point of expressing your emotions before they start to have a negative impact.
· Set goals and priorities: Focus on the areas you can control and set out to fulfill the goals most important in your personal and work life.
· Keep active: Find activities to keep both your body and mind busy that you also enjoy.
· Enjoy the company of loved ones: Surround yourself with positive, supportive relationships, whether with your family, friends or co-workers.
· Be open with your doctor: Don’t be afraid to discuss any cancer fears you have with your doctor or nurse.
Johnson stressed the importance of surrounding himself with positive, supportive relationships, including others who were also navigating a cancer journey.
"I learned to celebrate the successes of other patients while supporting those experiencing setbacks – this in turn kept me self-motivated to fight my cancer with all the strength I had,” said Johnson. “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed after a cancer diagnosis. For me, taking time to focus on myself and my inner being, and creating an environment that was as nurturing and calming as possible, helped me stay positive in combating my disease.”
For more information on developing your own path in fighting colorectal cancer, visit the My Colon Cancer Coach website at www.mycoloncancercoach.org/, or talk with your healthcare provider.