What we learn from seeing a loved one battle cancer

May 16, 2018 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

It can be hard to look at the glass half-full once your family member has dealt with cancer. On one hand, you’re relieved your loved one is in remission. On the other hand, you may worry about the after-effects of the cancer and its treatment, or how your loved one will cope with survivorship

As you and your loved one learn to move on, gain strength and find a new normal, you may look back and realize the many life lessons you’ve learned from this experience.
Here are 7 things we can all learn from someone who’s had cancer:

  1. Listen to your body. Our bodies are always changing, especially when we are under stress. If you have unexplained pain or if you notice new lumps or skin changes, talk to your physician. Cancer is most treatable when it is detected early. Here are 9 cancer-related symptoms to look out for. 
  2. Get a second opinion. A second opinion can give a different perspective and confirm a diagnosis. In some cases, it may even open up new treatment options. Edward-Elmhurst Health offers a Second Opinion Clinic, which is available to any patient who wants to better understand their diagnosis and treatment options.
  3. Keep a positive attitude. An important part of coping during difficult times is attitude. It’s not so much what happens to you that matters, it’s how you choose to respond. We all face hurdles. Try to focus on the good things, and keep setting goals. Protect your health by finding ways to reduce stress.
  4. Be your own advocate in your health. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your doctor if you don’t understand something. Write down your concerns ahead of time so you don’t forget during an appointment. Knowing your family medical history can also tell you a lot about your own health too.
  5. Stay connected with friends and family. When you go through a life-changing experience like cancer, you often realize how important family and friends are. Our loved ones play an important role in our physical and mental health, so stay connected!
  6. It’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel about yourself. Many people feel self-conscious about their appearance, especially when going through cancer treatment. Having a positive body image and self-esteem can help boost your mood and help you feel less anxious. 
  7. Fitness is important. Being physically fit can lower your risk for just about everything. Exercise can help you control your weight and reduce your risk of many health issues, including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Exercise also boosts your mood.

The cancer journey is a challenging experience for all affected, but you come out of it learning a lot about life. And it’s what you do with what you learned that makes a difference in where you are headed.

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5 steps to live a healthier life after cancer treatment

10 ways to celebrate your cancerversary

Overcoming survivor guilt

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