Remain Relevant to Remain Healthy
A monumental struggle that many prostate cancer patients suffer from is a nagging feeling that they do not matter in the overall scheme of things.
These feelings can be fed by a loss of a career, loss of emotional well-being, or an inability to maintain a physical relationship with their significant other. In order to remain on the road to improving health, those diagnosed with prostate cancer must find a way to remain relevant.
Coping with changes after a diagnosis
In my case, prior to my prostate cancer diagnosis, I had a wonderful career as an educator and a coach. Normally, I coached three sports a year and taught either special education or physical education.
Personally, I had become accustomed to always being around a great number of people, whether it be in the coaching arena or in the school house setting. Then, just as quick as a lightning strike, I was forced into a disability retirement, spending much of my day alone or at numerous doctor’s appointments.
Anxiety and depression quickly become the enemies of a worn-down cancer patient. Cancer not only takes your physical health; it destroys your emotional and professional health at the same time. It does not discriminate on the basis of employed, unemployed, married, single, emotionally stable, emotionally unstable, religious, or non-religious. Cancer cares not for who it tolls.
Don't disappear into your disease
A major battle that cancer stricken persons must fight is to not disappear into your disease. Do not concede and relegate yourself to a life alone in your home or within your doctor’s visits.
I found it critically important to maintain as normal a life as possible. Try to find ways to remain in the public eye and participate in causes that make your life feel relevant. You may not be able to live up to your old standards, but that is of little real consequence.
Maintain an air of positivity. People often ask me, “How do you stay so positive?”
It was a great question and one I had some real problem answering early in my cancer experience. In addition to putting all my faith in The Lord, I tried to find a happy medium where I could accept my cancer diagnosis and at the same time, not allow it to dominate my every waking moment. There were skills I could still offer the world, and I was going to work to utilize those skills in an attempt to help others in any situation similar to mine.
Making efforts to smile
I often heard, “every time I see you, you always have this huge smile on your face and you are always laughing.”
Early on in my cancer fight, I made a conscious effort to smile. Even during times I surely did not feel like smiling, I would force myself to smile. After smiling and smiling, I found it was contagious and often made for a brighter situation or day.
As the cancer experience progressed, I volunteered as an assistant coach and eventually was even able to return to full-time work in the classroom. Although my return to full-time employment was only short-lived, it was a huge boost to my overall health and emotional well-being. The effect was felt the greatest on the emotional side of things.
Returning to some previous performances helped me maintain a feeling of being relevant in life. Just being around people and students enlightened my spirit and soul.
The impact on emotional health
Our bodies, especially it seems in my case, react to how we perceive ourselves as related to others around us. If we come to believe we are not relevant anymore, then we fulfill that outlook in our lives. We suffer from a disease that is not our fault and in no way devalues our worth in society.
I say strive to remain relevant in your life and the lives of others. The magic of that gift you are offering the world will enhance you own physical and emotional health.
Have you made personal connections through your journey with prostate cancer?