Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Helps Me 'Cope' With Cancer

At yesterday's patient support group the psychologist asked us what we use as a 'coping' strategy ... to help deal with our cancer diagnosis.

My strategy has been to use distraction ... stay busy and don't think about it too much. Some people may call it avoidance or denial but I call it distraction.

In 2000, when I was first diagnosed with cancer, I joined a walking group and eventually traveled to Seattle and walked a marathon ... 43 kilometers/26 miles. I did a lot of walking It was very therapeutic. Oh yes, I knitted and crocheted a lot too ... did I mention a lot.

In 2004, when I had a recurrence, I made a decision to change careers and employers ... and start my path towards getting a Human Resources Diploma. After 27 years, I did change employers ... twice. I was also feverishly working on my diploma when my new diagnosis came in 2008.

In 2008, when I got my metastatic diagnosis ... I must admit I was in shock for a good six months ... not knowing what I should be doing. One thing was for sure, I was going to finish my diploma ... cancer or no cancer. I decided to continue taking courses ... one at a time instead of the two evening courses I was taking before.

I was hoping to take a few months off for treatment and go back to work very part time. Of course, my treatment as been more difficult than first expected.

What I did pick up was blogging ... and truly that has saved my sanity. It has been a great distraction ... it gives me something to do and something to look forward to. I get great support and hopefully I offer support to others.

As you can see, I've always coped with cancer and perhaps with most adversity in my life by taking on new challenges. I just get busy doing something.

Is this a great coping skill? No sure ... but it has worked relatively well for me.


Roxanne said...

I for one am happy you use blogging as a "coping strategy" as it has been very uplifting, informative and encouraging for me. I learn from someone who has been there and pray that one day I can help others like you are helping me. God Bless!!

Michelle said...



Debby said...

Blogging really helped me keep it in perspective. Somehow, writing everything down and then going back to it helped me a lot.

Dee said...

Hey Daria,
You need to take advantage of whatever you can to deal with cancer. I know blogging has helped me as well as coloring mandalas. Keep it up!

Beth said...

Like Roxanne said, I'm very glad you're blogging! What you've written is very helpful to us newcomers, as is your daily encouragement. Thanks Daria!

Denise said...

You just keep it up girl friend and fight that thing...You live and look forward and NEVER live in the diagnosis.. Live in HIM.. Life your life just exactly the way YOU want to live not be swayed by what cancer wants......... Keep your eyes toward the mark and go that way..

I am so glad that the blog has given you joy in your walk..... You are a blessing to others as others bless you..... That is God's way!

Stephanie said...

Like you I am knitting and blogging my way through cancer! I think as long as you allow yourself to feel things when you need to, that's OK. (And i don't think you can blog without processing things, so it definitely counts as a coping strategy.)
Although cancer is a wretched disease it's also, in my case, been a chance to reassess and redesign my life, to change (I hope in a good way), to grow. So I guess I've coped partly by doing those things, by tempering the lousy parts by remembering the good ones.
I also think the fact of having other things in my life makes me able to take cancer 'in my stride' a bit more. I sometimes feel that the otherwise excellent caregivers I've encountered would prefer me to sit around being a Professional Cancer Sufferer... but I'm lucky enough with my early diagnosis to not need to do that.

Anonymous said...

I believe that distraction is often referred to as "healthy denial." So you are doing the right thing! Coping with cancer is not easy, and everyone needs to find what works best for them. Clearly you have a system that is working for you, and for that I say HOOORAY!!!
Sorry I missed the group - I will blog later about the presentation that I attended, and the witnessing of the PICC cleaning!

Elsa D. said...

I am discovering your blog. I like how you cope with your cancer. That's what I do. It is not denial it is just choosing to focus on the good things of life. A big hug,

Renee said...

You totally give support Daria and whatever works for you is what you should do.

Things work for me an then they don't and then I change.

But it is really hard during treatment to keep your head up. I know.

Love Renee xoxox

Armand said...

I'll start off by saying that my background is in Psychology, and I am an absolute research nerd.

There is a huge body if literature suggesting that talk/writing therapy is immensely restorative -- psychologically and physically. I think journalling should be encouraged by every doctor out there. I'm glad you've found an outlet.


My Journey to Hope said...

I can't believe how much you've been through, Daria. It sounds like you're able to have some control by choosing your perspective about everything. And when you're constantly bombarded with serious events, you need distraction, or you'll be a mess. Blogging is a great form of creative expression. If it helps, keep it up. Hang in there!

:) Michelle