If you could sit down with me and have a cup of coffee, or in my case, tea, what question would you ask me about how to move forward or feel “normal” after treatment for an illness is finished?
One of the coffee questions was – What is the first step you need to take, to move forward?
This is a huge question, but let’s take a look and break it down and look at one aspect.
Whenever you are looking to change anything in your life, you need to build a solid foundation first. Just like building a house, if you build a house on rocky ground, you will end up with cracks that you will need to repair later.
Any significant event or disruption can be extremely unbalancing and is a rocky foundation to build on. You can try, but the cracks will eventually appear. A big crack after a serous illness is fear of recurrence of the illness.
After being given a 1 in 10 chance of surviving, and then treatment not going all that well in some respects, I had an up close and personal relationship with fear of recurrence.
I came to understand that delving deep into the questions was going to be key, and I certainly didn’t have all the answers. I also knew that I wouldn’t get the answers I needed unless I was prepared to question a lot of things.
There were three questions that enabled me to get up and start moving. These questions became my first step. I would recommend you get a paper and pen and answer the questions below.
What does a lion have to do with moving forward after cancer?
First, You need to feel safe.
Safety was a feeling, that externally, you are out of harm’s way.
Any aspect of feeling that you are out of harm’s way is pretty well gone when you are diagnosed, as you can feel like you are gripped by the jaws of the lion. Now after treatment, you have managed to get away from him, but he was still chasing you and you fear might be that he would catch you again.
I was pretty well depleted from trying to outrun him for the 10 months of treatment and wasn’t sure that it would be possible for me to fight him off twice.
The question – What are you prepared to do to feel safe again?
Secondly, You need to feel secure.
Security is an internal feeling of being protected.
Security, is about finding something or some way to protect yourself from the fear that the lion will catch you again. You know that you can’t outrun him forever, so you have to find a way to outsmart him.
The question – What are you prepared to do, day-by-day, to make sure that you never cross his path again and that you are protecting yourself from harm?
Thirdly, You needed to feel supported.
Supporting yourself will be the foundation for taking responsibility for your needs.
You need to find a way to support yourself rather than making someone or something responsible for how you feel. The people you have relied on are now caring for the physical needs of other women who had been caught by the lion. It’s time for you to find a way to support yourself emotionally, and that might include other people, but as aids rather than crutches.
The question – What are you prepared to do to support yourself emotionally now?
Of course, the lion can represent the fear of recurrence on illness and delving deep into these questions of safety, security, and support is a valuable first step. If any of these were not cared for, it was a rocky foundation to start rebuilding on.
You need to be really honest with yourself about what you are prepared to do now. This isn’t the time to be setting unrealistic expectation or you will set yourself you for disappointment. You need to take a really honest assessment.
What did you find when you delved into these questions, as it is a really honest view of what you are prepared to do to let go of the fear. Please feel free to share the knowledge you’ve learned in the comments below.
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