Saturday, September 25, 2010

I am not afraid of dying, I am afraid I have never lived!

The above phrase was said by Linda, a pancreatic cancer patient, when she was attending a class on resiliency.  Today, I, along with local health care providers and cancer survivors/caregivers, had the opportunity to attend Avera Oncology Symposium.  This years focus was on survivorship.  Before today, I never really thought too much about being a survivor, just knew that I was one!  (And to think I almost didn't go and only went on the prompting that this was something I needed to do!)

The speakers were wonderful and inspirational, the topics were educational, and it was a great day! 

Since I have done much research on my cancer treatments, I was surprised to learn of the many long term side effects to cancer treatment (sometimes showing up 10, 15, 20 years.) We, as survivors, need to become aware of any potential for long term health consequences.  This new awareness has caused me to be even more vigilant about implementing good health practices to protect my heart, lungs and bones.  My treatment saved my life, but with it comes an  increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attacks, pulmonary issues, osteoporosis, etc.  We have a  long way to go in educating survivors and their primary care physicians in follow up of cancer treatment. 

An interesting session this afternoon was on "Building Resilience--the Skills of Survivors."

Here were a few things that I walked away from this session:
  • Resilience is....
                  "it is about bouncing back from problems and stuff with more power and more smarts"
                                                           --(Sean, a 15 year old inner city student)

  • Research has found that in many ways resilient patients will be more self assured, focused and happier because of their journey with cancer.

  • "Physicians shouldn't talk about patients going back to normal after treatment.  We want to help people find the best 'new normal'."--Dr. Catherine Alfano

An interesting exercise the speaker, Deb Carlson, challenged us to participate in was the Resiliency t-test.
Draw a "T" on a piece of paper.  Across the top write your name (or someone else's name).  On the left of the line write down all the problems you see in your environment (or the person's who's name you wrote down.)  On the right side of the line, write down all the strengths in yourself (other person) and in your (his/her) environment....talents, potential talents, personality qualities. Typically it is much easier to write down things on the left side.  It seems as if our brains are programmed for the negative.  We tend to focus on what is wrong and sometimes have a difficult time seeing what is right.  Research shows that we focus 90% of our energy on the left side, with only 10% focusing on the right. (We also tend to do that with people in our lives).  We all need to focus our shift to the right, allowing our strengths to grow in power and influence.  If we want something to grow we must nurture it and reinforce it!"
If we think we are fragile and broken, we will live a fragile, broken life.  I f we believe we are strong and wise, we will live with enthusiasm and courage.  The way we name ourselves colors the way we live.  Who we are is in our eyes.  We must be careful how we name ourselves."--Wayne Muller, 1996

Create YOUR best life!


Kimberly said...

Sigh. I just typed you a big ol' comment, and then my computer went nuts! Oh, well. :)

This is a very encouraging post filled with such great quotes. I know I am bad to focus on the "left side" about myself. I forget that as a man thinks in his heart, so he is. I need to shift my focus!

And I need to be sure I am really living. It's kind of like that question...what would you do if you were guaranteed not to fail? I need to start doing some of those things, no longer fearing failure.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Nancy said...

Kim, This is such a great post. It must have been an amazing class. I wrote a post earlier on resilency because I am so amazed at how resilient we cancer survivors are. Plus, the adivce for being more positive is so true. I often wonder why being negative is so much easier at times. I am putting together my favorite blog list for my site and and would like to put you on there, is that ok?