4 Things I Found Helpful as a Survivor

The start of a new year often brings pressure to set resolutions and make big changes in your life. The world creates additional pressure to lose weight, save money, pay down debt, etc. However, the main goal during this survivorship journey is to live a thriving life. It is not necessary to have this massive New Year’s resolution that you may forget about when the month of March comes to live a fulfilling life; setting small goals and striving for self-improvement are still valuable pursuits.

In a matter of seconds, being told I had cancer with an 18-month prognosis changed my entire perspective on life. Nope, you didn’t read that last sentence wrong! After being diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, I was told that 18 months was the life expectancy for patients diagnosed with this rare cancer. Not that I was this reckless woman living life on the edge, but a young 21-year-old first-time mother.

Facing unknowns created an urgency to grasp life’s true meaning and live in the moment. Fast forward to 17 years later, I’ve found that living in the moment and taking each day as it comes can be more effective than setting a rigid goal that may not align with current needs and desires. By staying present and mindful, you are showing up for yourself. Just making small changes in your life will help you grow and prosper over time.

For some people, having specific goals, such as losing weight or saving money, can motivate them and help them remain on the right track. However, for others, these plans can have the opposite effect. If you find it challenging to cope with the pressure and expectations associated with setting resolutions, it may be more beneficial to concentrate on fostering a general sense of well-being and happiness in your life.

So, cheers to the new year, and here are some ways you can start showing up for yourself in 2024:

1. Celebrate your victories – Acknowledge and celebrate the milestones you’ve achieved during your survivorship journey. Whether completing treatment, reaching a personal goal, or simply getting through a tough day, give yourself credit for what you’ve accomplished. After having an 11-hour surgery, getting out of bed was a win for me.

2. Practice self-care – Do things that help you chill and regain your energy. You can go out and enjoy nature, do some yoga or meditation, or do something you love. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is essential to your overall well-being. One thing that allows me to pour back into myself is praying and listening to my favorite worship songs.

3. Take care of yourself – It is important to keep up with regular check-ups with your doctor, take your medication as prescribed and schedule appointments with your therapist. If you don’t have a therapist, discuss the benefits of taking care of your mental health with your primary care.

4. Set boundaries – Be mindful of your energy and limitations. Don’t be afraid to say no to commitments or activities that may be too demanding on your physical or emotional health. Prioritizing your needs and well-being is critical to showing up for yourself healthily and sustainably. One thing that some don’t realize is that “no” is an answer.

Remember that taking small steps can lead to significant changes regardless of your path. Every day is an opportunity to live your best life. As the new year approaches, make sure to prioritize yourself in 2024. Do things that make you happy, live in the moment, and take things one day at a time. My prayer for you is to have a blessed and prosperous 2024!

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