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Five Ways to Live a Love Filled Life after Cancer.

June 6, 2007
by Lianne Avila, MA, MFT

There are more than 10 million cancer survivors in the U.S., up from a mere 3 million in 1971.  As many of you know we don't just live happily ever after.  Only recently has survivorship emerged.  This is the study of what happens when cancer patients live.  Their lives are forever altered physically and emotionally.  The following is a list of suggestions to guide you through your recovery.

Hope is #1.

Recognize all the things you have to live for and maintain a strong will to live.  Set a goal to make something positive happen out of this illness.  Don't dwell on why me.  When life gives you lemons make lemonade.  Focus your energies on healing and recovery.

Share your story.

Studies have proven that translating your emotions into words brings about remarkable results.  Talk therapy and writing are two of the top ways to share your story.  Both have shown improved immune functioning.  Writing was a crucial technique in my recovery.  Every morning I would find a quiet location and journal for 30 minutes.  There is no need to worry about spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  This will help you to explore your deepest thoughts about cancer and what it means to you.  Try using the Pink-Link personal journal. Your journal can be private, public to Pink-Link members or password protected.

Attitude is everything.

Yes, it is true we are what we think.  We create our life with our thoughts and words.  Negative emotions can lead to anger, fear, and even depression.  These negative emotions can drain your coping mechanisms.  Positive emotions increase the probability of a positive outcome.  Most importantly, researchers believe a positive attitude can increase the immune system's ability to fight off disease.

Help Others.

Helping others is one of the best things we can do to help ourselves.  By discovering we are not unique in our suffering creates comfort.  By reaching out to help others, we are actually taking control of our fate.  When we communicate with other survivors, we learn that their reactions are a natural response to catastrophic life events. Of course, this is the basis for the Pink-Link survivor database. If you haven't tried searching for other survivors, you can type in anything from the type of surgery or your zip code to find survivors in your area.
Rely on your support system.

Research has show that people who have a strong support network recover better than those who do not.  Lean on others for help when you need it.  Surround yourself with friends and family that care about your recovery.  If it gets to a point that your friends and family are getting a little burnt out, I invite you to talk to a caring professional such as a counselor.

My personal battle with Breast Cancer has changed my life forever.  I cannot tell you how many survivors have reported their lives have changed for the better.  They are no longer worried about the small things that used to upset them.  In the famous words of Olivia Newton John (cancer survivor), "My cancer scare changed my life.  I'm grateful for every new, healthy day I have.  It has helped me prioritize my life." 

Lianne Avila, MFT
Breast Cancer Survivor


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