What is the 'right' thing to do after cancer?

By Jane Bissell

During a recovery from breast cancer, we're often fearful that we're doing the wrong thing when it comes to helping ourselves - but what is the 'right thing'?

This can be particularly stressful when treatment is finished, because when we're under the continual care of our medical team, it's often easier to find out information which can help us make our choices and decisions.

After treatment, there can be a feeling of mild to severe panic. Some people liken it to walking a tightrope without your safety net below. We're discharged, scheduled for regular check ups, but the time between appointments seems like a great, dark chasm that we have to get over.

The internet boasts limitless sources of information about food, exercise, how we're supposed to feel, and provides an abundance of suggestions on how to look after ourselves. But this abundance can, in itself, be overwhelming and confusing to the point where we want to take to our beds, pull up the covers, and stay there.

So what is the 'right thing' to do, say, about nutrition? This is always a big one, as we want to do everything we can to stay healthy and well, and increase our chances of keeping cancer away.

I attended a talk given by Wellness Coach Jan Haworth and she likened our bodies to 'terrain'. It's a simplistic way of looking at it, but makes sense, because everything we put into our bodies is digested, circulated, and absorbed into our 'terrain', feeding our cells and affecting our overall health.

So it kind of makes sense to put good things in, to encourage healthy growth and keep us strong.
During my recovery from cancer, like many people,  I reassessed how I was living my life. Above all, I was humbled and in awe of how my body handled the surgery, the tough treatments, and came back from all of that. This extraordinary resilience and strength gave me a whole new respect for this wonderful machine - the human body - and I decided to do my best to 'put good things in' so I could help my body get well, and stay that way.

Sure I fall off the wagon every now and then - too much wine, grabbing take away food too often - but I've tried to find a middle ground that gives me the occasional treat and indulgence, but focuses mostly on good, unprocessed, food.

So when it comes to 'what is right' and 'what is wrong', give yourself time to experiment and find your way. It doesn't happen overnight. Check out what others are doing, select information from the internet that resonates with you, enlist the help of professionals if needed, and most of all, do what feels right for you.

Jane is an Auckland-based writer and life-story teller: more at www.janebissellwriting.com


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