Live Life to the Fullest

Life after breast cancer means returning to some of the things you use to do and making some new choices or routines to replace the old which are no longer feasible.

The song says “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” but when you’ve had breast cancer, you discover that it’s not even over when it’s over.

Cancer is described as a journey which starts at diagnosis. During treatment, some feel their life has been on hold. And when treatment ends, it may be hard to know how to resume the old routines. This is described as being in limbo.

Survivors expect life to return to what it was like before the cancer diagnosis. But the reality is more emotionally and physically complex than that. Some find that they can’t or don’t want to go back to how life was before their treatment.

Some people are happy with the way things were before the cancer diagnosis. This is okay; you don’t have to feel pressured to make life changes if you don’t want to.

Don’t let anything hold you back in your pursuit to live life to the fullest. You want to experience everything and anything (except maybe things like eating insects, flydiving, going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, or other really weird things). Get out there and do as many as many things as you can.

I want to say you don’t need to constantly push yourself to do something every minute. But take some time to sit and appreciate what you have accomplished. You should also share your experiences with others who might benefit from what you have done.

Do not let your cancer hold you back. If you are capable, go for it!

You are about to embark on another leg of the trip. This one is all about adjusting to life as a breast cancer survivor. In many ways, it will be a lot like the life you had before, but in other ways, it will be very different. Call it your “new normal.” (I really hate this phrase, but it is what everyone calls it)

Many people find they have more energy when they take part in physical activities such as swimming, walking, yoga and biking. They find that these types of activities help them keep strong and make them feel good. A bit of exercise every day:

  • Improves your chances of feeling better.
  • Keeps your muscles toned.
  • Speeds your healing.
  • Decreases fatigue.
  • Controls stress.
  • Increases appetites.
  • Decreases constipation.
  • Helps free your mind of bad thoughts.
  • Even if you have never done physical activities before, you can start now. Choose something you think you’d like to do, and get your doctor’s OK to try it. You can do some exercises even if you have to stay in bed.
  • Start slowly, doing an activity for just 5 or 10 minutes a day. When you feel strong enough, you can slowly increase this time to 30 minutes or more. Let your doctors and nurses know if you have pain when you do this activity.
  • From your relationships with your family and your spouse to eating habits and exercise, breast cancer will change your life in ways that last well after treatment ends. How do you fight lingering fatigue? What should you eat to help prevent a breast cancer recurrence? Will you ever have a regular sex life again? These are just a few of the questions that may nag at you as you make the transition from breast cancer treatment to breast cancer survival.

    Your family and friends care for you and it’s natural for them to want the stress of cancer to be far behind you. They more than likely do not fully understand what you’ve been through, and do not realise the cancer experience doesn’t necessarily stop when treatment ends.

    It may be helpful to allow yourself time to adjust to these changes, and to explain to your friends and family that you need their support.

    Dealing with cancer and facing thoughts of death is a life-changing event for most people. For many, it can be a time to minimize regrets and make new priorities.

    Try to live each day as normally as you can. Enjoy the simple things you like to do, petting your dog or watching a sunset. Take pleasure in big events, like a friend’s wedding or your grandchild’s high school graduation.

    If you feel well enough, keep up with your daily routine. This includes going to work, spending time with family and friends, taking part in hobbies and even going on trips.

    Try to do something just for fun, not because you have to do it. But be careful not to tire yourself out. Some people get depressed when they are too tired. Make sure to get enough rest so you feel strong and can enjoy these fun activities.

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