Becoming a caregiving to a loved one with cancer feels as if my life has been turned upside down like a snow globe and I am left to hold on to the stable anchors.
Tamera Anderson-Hanna is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Addiction Professional, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and became a Registered Yoga Teacher while coping with breast cancer in 2015. She owns Wellness, Therapy, & Yoga in Florida where she provides personal wellness services and coaching and she is a public speaker on wellness-related topics. You can connect with her at www.wellnesstherapyyoga.com.
In January of this year, I received the difficult news that a close family member was diagnosed with cancer. It became very real when needing to sit with the news of treatment options. Being a caregiver in some ways has been more difficult than being a cancer survivor. It has felt as if my life has been turned upside down like a snow globe and I am left to hold on to the stable anchors, which fortunately remain in place when things are flipped around. I have needed to sort out what my anchors are in life are and change priorities and tasks to let go of things which currently are insignificant.
Being a breast cancer survivor, I am familiar with some of the information and treatment options presented. But this type of cancer affecting my family member is not breast cancer—tests and treatment options are a little different than what I am familiar with. My role is now being a caregiver to another person with cancer. It has been a difficult journey and one which I am still adjusting to. There is a lot of good news in the diagnosis but circumstances this year have left me needing to scale back on some of the work I do to include tasks related to running a small business.
I have needed to reflect, regroup and work on finding the new balance in life. While giving support as a caregiver I am also checking in on my own needs to be the best for myself and in taking on new responsibilities. I have observed my body feeling stressed, so it has meant going back to the things I teach—connecting with my positive supports in life and needing to balance this along with my role in leading others in their cancer or life journey. The life areas I am working on include my emotional, physical and spiritual wellness.
To support emotional wellness, I have reached out to a select group of friends and coworkers who are a positive support. These individuals are mature, healthy supports and are good listeners. Being a good listener and support does not mean I need others to fix anything or make things better in life, but they are present to allow me to vent and share.
When attending the CURE® conference in Miami, I participated in laughter yoga to try something new for self-care and as a way to vent. A girlfriend getaway might also be in order, but this will be when things settle down and I have met my immediate needs as a caregiver.
Related to my emotional wellness is a need for spiritual guidance, which overlaps at this time to help provide emotional support. I find spiritual guidance by reading and checking in with more than one spiritual practice. A self-talk journal doesn't hurt, along with positive quotes and affirmations with messages of health and wellness.
In regard to physical wellness, I am checking in with my dietician as I can tell my energy levels are down and my sleep has been slightly off. My latest blood results were great, I have been maintaining an ideal weight and keeping my cholesterol and other levels at a good range to help prevent against my own recurrence. But I am pretty sure my stress levels are up, so I have taken in some new tips and reinforce what has been keeping me healthy.
To help me calm, yoga and mindful breathing are essential. I also have an acupuncture appointment coming up for additional self-care. To save time, I am ordering healthy home cooked meals from a local business.
Finding Spiritual Balance
Spiritual balance is coming into play by my connecting with the environment and taking in things like fresh air and my healthy supports. A beautiful spring day greeted me recently and allowed for all of the windows and patio doors of my home to be open. I can only describe the zephyr of fresh air to have not only swept through my home, providing an airy and clean feeling to the house, but it also seemed to touch my soul and spirit on this day. I will be enjoying more walks and, when possible, a visit to the Florida Keys to further take in fresh air and a pace of life in which I don't often wear a watch, but rather just exist.
I have reorganized some of my personal living areas and my bedroom was updated with all new bedding, a new screen print I won at a silent auction and new pillows which all support a tropical and relaxing, spa-infused feeling.
While life has thrown some obstacles, I get to organize my response to a new journey in life. I am examining how to be the most effective at my job and in other life areas. I am even learning to embrace this as part of my own work in the mindfulness field. I am thankful to peers and mentors who have my back and who are helping me meet my personal and business goals as healthfully as possible. Acknowledging my own need for support and self-care is currently a priority, as those of us who are caregivers must also manage other life roles.