Hope is always viewing the cup as half full. When caring form someone with breast cancer, it’s easy to lose hope. Here are some tips to help you get back hope as a co-survivor.
- Be aware that it is normal to feel sad or to wonder, “Why me?” Having hope does not mean sticking your head in the sand and pretending that your loved one doesn’t have breast cancer. It is having an upbeat view of things to come despite the breast cancer.
- Think about the things in your life that give you hope. What do you look forward to? They can be simple things or big life events.
- Join a co-survivor support group or talk with others. People acquire hope by talking with others who have been through the same thing survived. If you can’t get out of the house there are some on-line support groups. Reach out to Forge’s Volunteer and Support Coordinator, Jinida Holt, for help finding support at (205) 990-5368 or [email protected].
- Read a book that inspires you. Much like support groups, hearing how others came through a similar tough time can give hope.
- Enjoy nature…go outside and sit in the sunshine, take a walk in a park, watch the birds or find some way to enjoy the beauty in nature.
- Treat yourself with a relaxing bubble bath, manicure or massage, listen to your favorite music or watch a sunset.
- Take time for prayer and meditation, which can help you focus on your true priorities.
- Create a joy collage or memory book by cutting out pictures or poems in magazines that represent hope to you.
- Learn more about breast cancer and its treatment. New and improved cancer treatments are helping more people to survive this disease. Knowing the facts makes facing the future easier.
- Remember your past accomplishments and the inner qualities you possess that helped you get them. Think about how these qualities can help you to regain hope now as a breast cancer survivor.
- Set realistic short term goals, as you achieve them you will gain confidence.
- Laugh…cancer isn’t funny, but a lot of the things that happen are. A good sense of humor can carry you a long way.
- Journal: Write down all of your feelings of hope and despair in a journal or diary and track them. Include the things that give you hope as well as the things that discourage you.
- Rest: regaining hope takes energy and is hard when you are tired or weary. Pass on chores to family and friends. Create a “Hope Box” or basket and place slips of paper in it with tasks others can do for you written on them. When others ask what they can do to help, let them look through the basket and choose something.
- Find ways to feel needed, valued and cared for in relationships.
- Talk to your family and friends. They have a lot of the same feelings and fears that you do. Encourage, but do not force, one another to talk. Listen carefully to each other’s feelings. Provide comfort and support. Talk about your current situation; remember past illness and losses to help make sense of the situation.
- Try deep breathing and relaxation exercises several times a day.
- Volunteer at Forge, supporting someone else who is serving as a caregiver. Having a sense of purpose gives you hope.
If you need help dealing with being a caregiver and all of the emotions that involves, please reach out to Forge’s Client Services Coordinator, Janet Dees, at (205) 990-5367 or [email protected]. She can match you with Peer Mentor who has been a caregiver, too, and understands, connect you with a support group, or provide you with free mental health counseling. As a co-survivor, you deserve support, too.