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So, you have cancer. You’ve met with your team and you’ve decided on your treatment plan. Overwhelmed? Of course you are! They have just overloaded you with information that you need and you can’t remember ONE thing! THIS IS NORMAL so don’t worry about it. It’s the very reason they send you home with all those pamphlets and that thick book that you don’t think you’ll ever read. You probably won’t actually read it, but I promise you, it will come in handy from time to time through your treatments as a reference manual – if you’re like me. Are you already IN treatment and you’re having trouble sleeping? Maybe you can’t find enough energy to get through your day, let alone be productive! That’s why I wrote this post to share with you: How to have more energy and to sleep better during treatments.
HELP IS HERE!!
The hardest part of treatment, in my humble opinion is the uncertainty that leads up to it. Face it, you’ve never done this before and no matter how many people you know who have, they’re just not much help! They seem to want to tell you is how awful it was and how hard it was to get through. Hopefully you won’t get too much negativity, but in my experience, people seemed just too happy to share their awful experiences with me sometimes.
Guess what? It’s not so hard. Really! Just don’t expect to be running a marathon during your treatment. That’s NOT gonna happen! But you CAN have a better experience than most.
The very first thing you need to do is check your attitude! That’s right. YOUR attitude.
As a cancer patient, it’s so so easy to start feeling sorry for yourself. And your well meaning friends are only too happy to help you along with that. Don’t do it!
At this point, it really doesn’t matter how you got here. What matters is how you’re going to get OUT of here! Get what I’m saying? Good!
How’s your diet? I know. Diet is a four-letter-word! But not that kind of diet. Your diet is just what you consume on a regular basis – how you eat.
It’s true that what we put into our bodies directly affects how our bodies function. Just like the gas you put in your car will determine your gas mileage, the food you put in your gut will determine your energy level and stamina. AND how you sleep.
Something that I truly believe gave me more energy and helped me get through with a great attitude was my diet. I ate strict Paleo through my treatments. At one of the nurse’s suggestion, I also added Floragen 3. It’s a great probiotic and honestly, I believe that between these two things, I did much better than most!
Chamomile Tea at Bedtime.
I’ve NEVER been a tea drinker. In fact when anyone would ask me if I wanted a cup of tea I would wrinkle my nose at them. I have come to realize that a good cup of sleepy time tea can really help to relax me. I find I sleep better and wake more refreshed. I like this one.
I’m not sure if there really is something about tea that relaxes a person or if it’s the hot drink or what, but I do know that I always sleep better if I enjoy a cup before I go to bed.
The last thing I wanted to do while in treatment was any kind of exercise. I didn’t feel like it. But you know what? When I started to walk, I started to feel better all the way around! I even found that I started to look forward to the exercise.
My doctor told me that exercise will not only help me to sleep better, but she said that women who exercise after a cancer diagnosis are 50% less likely to have their cancer return! I’M IN!!!
You don’t have to get crazy with exercise either. I did a very simple 1 Mile Walk in my living room. It took 15 minutes and I felt better physically as well as mentally.
The right kind of reading can be very beneficial to your mind. Obviously, reading a horror story before bedtime is NOT going to give you a good night’s sleep. We know that, but when you’re getting ready for bed and that book is lying on your nightstand, you just can’t resist.
So, plan ahead. Explore other options. Try reading some ‘feel-good’ stories about other people. Not only does it take your mind off of YOU, it allows you to escape into another world and will actually relax you. Here’s a great book to try. It’s called Chicken Soup For The Cancer Survivor’s Soul. I’m sure you’ve heard of the “Chicken Soup” books, but did you even know they wrote one for cancer THRIVERS?
Here’s a BIG plus: if you’re really struggling with peace through this journey, then I recommend reading the Bible. You can download a free app on your smart phone or tablet but if you’re someone who has to have an actual book, then here’s a link to a translation that I really like. It’s the ESV and it’s easy to understand. The book of Psalms is great for uplifting you. If you don’t know Christ on a personal level, then please start with the Book of John. It’s the fourth book into the New Testament.
Reaching out to others who need help in some way can be such a great way to relax, believe it or not. When we take the focus off ourselves for a while and realize that we can be of help to someone else, it’s very gratifying.
Some ways you can reach out (depending on your mobility and your personal situation) could be: write out a hand written note or send a card to someone who is going through some crisis; offer to drive someone to the store (or just pick up what they need when you go); Bring a meal (or order them a pizza); PRAY! That’s right, praying for others gave me so much peace and when I heard from them how much it helped, it was even better!
And A Bonus:
Get involved in a support group for cancer survivors. Those groups need you as much as you need them! I never miss a support group meeting. How will this help you sleep better? You’ll either be able to unload what’s bothering you and perhaps get some practical help, OR you will help someone else. Either way, it’s very gratifying and helps to free your mind so you will sleep better.
TALK about your treatments and how you’re feeling with those who are closest to you. They may have fears that they’re afraid to mention to you. Oftentimes the family members have a harder time than the patient.
Getting creative on how you can reach out will depend on your treatment plan. During chemo, you need to be careful around others who are sick, so keep that in mind too – but you already know that, right?
What about you? Do you have some tricks of your own to help you sleep? How about a great idea for extra energy? I’d love to hear them. Will you please leave a comment below or send me an e-mail?
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Here’s to THRIVING, not just surviving!