When I was diagnosed, I turned to social media to search out people who had a story that looked like mine and never found anyone with a mountain of medical bills piled up on a countertop.
A messy bathroom, clean (but not yet folded) laundry. Nor anyone saying: “well, we can go for takeout again” because someone didn’t have any gas left in the tank to think about meal planning, let alone leaving the house for groceries. Did I mention the never ending to-do list that comes with adulting? Or buying a fixer upper? Not to mention the small ones (furry or human), spouses, family obligations… I could go on for DAYS about the things that stressed me out pre-diagnosis.
Post-diagnosis? There’s a never ending stream of medical appointments and treatments and those leave you teary eyed, sitting in the car, silently crying because you are too exhausted to lift your hand to open the damn car door.
I see these beautiful curated photos of a kick-ass cancer survivor and it looks like she is kicking ass AND she has a clean bathroom AND has zero medical bills. But I am here to tell you, I have scoured my social media, I have googled. I have asked around. I have NOT found anyone talking about the damn struggle bus I was (and still am) driving to just manage any of it. The bills, the fatigue, the complete disarray of my formerly organized life.
Let’s get OFF the struggle bus!
I am here today to talk about all of these things. To be real with you because it is a struggle. Every. Damn. Day.
‘Adulting’ is hard without being a cancer thriver. I know, because I see THAT all over my social media feeds. To be totally honest, I love it when people share the real nitty gritty on their social media. It reminds me that everyone has their own struggles.
What I do see is really great content designed for helping the average person with their troubles. “Five Kitchen Gadgets You Do Not Need” or “How to Get Rid of (XYZ) Fast!” or “How to Stop Eating Out Every Night”. And I am here to tell you, I love this kind of content. Pre-diagnosis, I devoured it like a rabid animal. I loved to plan and organize and file and de-clutter.
And then my diagnosis came, and for a while these systems held up and did make life easier… but after a while, the overwhelm was just… well, overwhelming.
My wife traveled for work. Like, a LOT. Most weekends, I was lucky to see her for 36 hours and she was sleeping for a good portion of those few hours. She was recovering from grueling 10+ hour days, physical labor and driving all over the USA. So, I had to step up my game. I was tired from my targeted therapies, but my wife? She was also tired. She was sleeping in a noisy hotel room far from home in a foreign bed. She was eating terrible food (although: we did finally nail down the perfect work-week-cooler meal plan for her).
I knew I had to get on top of the overwhelm, it became imperative for me to function at my best, so that I could help her function at her best, so WE could function at our best.
6 unique ideas to reduce your stress
I could go on for days talking about this, and I have about a dozen (or more!) tips in my head, so if what I am saying is resonating with you, come find me on the socials where I share my lessons, tips and tricks and am transforming my life (and yours!) into a kick-ass cancer thriver.
Meanwhile, when I saunter into the kitchen after writing this, I know what we’re having for dinner tonight and for the rest of the week. It’s all written out on my trusty magnetic whiteboard. Hmmm, I should add “toothpaste” to the grocery list?
Heather, The Designated Thriver is a 4 year Stage IV ALK+ Lung Cancer Thriver. Figuring out how to transform from a cancer patient to a cancer thriver. Living with an incurable and terminal diagnosis. A wife, adventurer, tiny pop up camper, kayaking, dog walking + yoga doing kick ass thriver. Writing at Living Lives with Lung Cancer, on Instagram @foxxnsoxx
All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer. If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you! Please submit your idea at https://elephantsandtea.cdn-pi.com/contact/submissions/.