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Welcome to the Slaggie Family Cancer Education Center page. Our goal is to empower patients and their supporters to become active partners in their health care by providing relevant information, increasing knowledge and learning from one another’s experiences. Follow the Cancer Education Center page and stay up-to-date as we post accurate and timely cancer-related information on topics such as cancer prevention, risks, treatments, clinical trials, end-of-life care and survivorship. No matter where you are in your journey, we are here to help.

 

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Thu, Nov 9, 2017 2:07pm

Combatting Negative Thoughts with Mindfulness

By Megan Roessler M. Ed., @meganroessler

shutterstock_40329226Are you struggling with negative thoughts?  This time of the year can be difficult for many people.  The weather is changing.  We have less daylight.  The holidays are approaching.  Adding cancer to that list can make life seem even more daunting.  Repeated negative thoughts can lead to depression.  It can certainly lead to an overall feeling of "meh."

 

Research supports that being mindful reduces the chance of depression.  We hear a lot about "being mindful."  But what does that really mean?  Mindfulness is fully paying attention to the moment without judgement.   Observe your thoughts and feelings as if you were an outsider.  A casual observer.  You are not putting your thoughts and feelings into a "good" or "bad" category - no judgement as you observe the thought.

It is so easy to develop negative trains of thought.  The more we do this, the more it becomes "what our brain does." Think of it like wearing a path through the woods, only the well-worn path is inside your brain.  It is possible to create new pathways in your brain through practice.   Starting to have positive thoughts may feel like you are walking through the thicket.  Needing to take high steps to hurdle the brush of habitual, negative thoughts.  A wayward branch of negatvity snaps back and hits you.  Prickers of negative thought stick to your clothing.  Plucking them off and trying to break free of the negativity can feel as daunting as trekking through a new area of the woods.  But through time, repetition, and practice, positive thoughts can form a new path in your brain.  Just as if you would start walking an uncharted path through the woods, it wouldn't be easy at first.  But if you walked it everyday, soon enough you would be able to see a pathway starting to form.  It would become a little easier and more comfortable to take the positive path.  Picture positive thoughts floating down on you, just like a leaf falling from a tree.

Give yourself some time to observe your thoughts and feelings.  If they seem to be more negative in nature, practice putting a positive thought in your mind.  Make a beaten path of positivity in your mind.  If I'm trying to have more positive thoughts, I picture each member of my family with a smile on their face.  I often find myself with a smile on my face after I have thought of each person.  What do you do that promotes positive thoughts?

Negative thoughts. Well, newly diagnosed, I have to admit that’s pretty much all I had. I wanted to scream in absolute frustration and constant fear of this new nightmare. A day seemed to last forever, and even though it’s been only three weeks it seems like it has been one horrible bad day. But… occasionally, not always, I now find myself realizing that I can do this. Baby steps. Just one small step at a time, one decision at a time, one piece of information at a time. And every single message of support, a word of encouragement, a hug sent via fb, or a phone call just to say I’m just checking in – every single one of those helps to build the foundation of the support system that is so desperately needed. The negative thoughts are there, always, especially when yet another scary apointment or treatment option hits you. Reach out. Lean on your support, take their offers of live and ideas for resources. I can do this! Not by myself, but with my husband, my tribe of friends, my care team, and any other resource I allow myself to let in. I am no longer the one who solves every one else’s problems, my type A personality has to take a back seat, my absolute reliance on lists and plans has gone out the window, and I’m not wonder woman. I am me. Scared, loved, supported, and fighting like hell to adjust to my new normal.
I can do this,
Vicky

@vsinn2000

Negative thoughts. Well, newly diagnosed, I have to admit that’s pretty much all I had. I wanted to scream in absolute frustration and constant fear of this new nightmare. A day seemed to last forever, and even though it’s been only three weeks it seems like it has been one horrible bad day. But… occasionally, not always, I now find myself realizing that I can do this. Baby steps. Just one small step at a time, one decision at a time, one piece of information at a time. And every single message of support, a word of encouragement, a hug sent via fb, or a phone call just to say I’m just checking in – every single one of those helps to build the foundation of the support system that is so desperately needed. The negative thoughts are there, always, especially when yet another scary apointment or treatment option hits you. Reach out. Lean on your support, take their offers of live and ideas for resources. I can do this! Not by myself, but with my husband, my tribe of friends, my care team, and any other resource I allow myself to let in. I am no longer the one who solves every one else’s problems, my type A personality has to take a back seat, my absolute reliance on lists and plans has gone out the window, and I’m not wonder woman. I am me. Scared, loved, supported, and fighting like hell to adjust to my new normal.
I can do this,
Vicky

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Vicky – it is difficult to adjust to a new normal – especially when it isn’t something you chose in the first place. Baby steps, small steps is about the only way to keep going. I admire any one & everyone’s courage, determination and each and every baby step that is taken as they are fighting cancer. My thoughts and admiration are with you!

Megan,
Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I confess though, to take that first baby step was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I went kicking and screaming in protest. Or maybe heartbreak. I’m still not sure. Anyway, you just have to keep going. Every positive thought helps and is deeply appreciated!
Vicky

I find that I'm unable to take baby steps at this point. I cannot get my Doctors to handle my aftercare. They are not scheduling tests that will accurately show tumor growth, they are not refilling meds on time, leaving me to go days without them, which obviously abruptly cuts me off of meds that you are supposed to be weaned off of. Very uncomfortable, just increases the stress and takes several additional days to get pain under control when they finally get around to sending them. I'm beyond frustrated!

@vsinn2000

I find that I'm unable to take baby steps at this point. I cannot get my Doctors to handle my aftercare. They are not scheduling tests that will accurately show tumor growth, they are not refilling meds on time, leaving me to go days without them, which obviously abruptly cuts me off of meds that you are supposed to be weaned off of. Very uncomfortable, just increases the stress and takes several additional days to get pain under control when they finally get around to sending them. I'm beyond frustrated!

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Hi @vsinn2000
I'm so sorry that the transition to aftercare has been rough. I know you made great strides during treatment. This must be terribly frustrating. You mention doctors plural. Is there one doctor who is leading your care team? Can you find one member of your team who will help coordinate with the others?

@vsinn2000

I find that I'm unable to take baby steps at this point. I cannot get my Doctors to handle my aftercare. They are not scheduling tests that will accurately show tumor growth, they are not refilling meds on time, leaving me to go days without them, which obviously abruptly cuts me off of meds that you are supposed to be weaned off of. Very uncomfortable, just increases the stress and takes several additional days to get pain under control when they finally get around to sending them. I'm beyond frustrated!

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@vsinn2000 Hello Vicky:

I am so sorry to hear of your current stressors. Pain is a stressor that can really take a toll and I'm sorry that you are not getting more assistance.

Is it possible to make a list of your concerns with your after-care? For example: How can your medical team be of help to you? (Is it their slow response time or something else?) What tests do you feel that you need to accurately show tumor growth? (Have any tests been scheduled?); Is your medical team aware of your pain problems? (The medical profession tends to respond to the 1-10 scale of pain)

I really want you to receive the help you need, Vicky. You made incredible progress over the past year and I don't want you to lose the strides you have made.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Teresa

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