When dealing with a cancer treatment, it is important to actively work on healing both your mind and your body. Eating healthy and exercising regularly is imperative, but so is finding ways to decrease mental stress. Cancer fighters and survivors are often faced with a lot of emotions – fear about treatment or recurrence, financial troubles, fertility complications, relationship problems, etc. Our worries don’t always go away when our cancer does. However, according to the American Cancer Society, people who are able to use effective coping strategies to deal with stress have been shown to have lower levels of depression, anxiety and symptoms related to cancer and its treatment.
But what are some good coping strategies? In our opinion, it is crucial to talk about your cancer experience. Let it out. That’s exactly why we created a Dear Cancer section on IHadCancer.com – we wanted to provide a way for you to tell cancer what’s on your mind and get your feelings off your chest. It gives you a microphone – to be happy or mad, to curse cancer or even thank it. It can be therapeutic to know that other fighters, survivors and supporters share similar feelings but most importantly, it can help you realize that you are not alone. There’s no right or wrong response and there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Keeping feelings bottled up is worse.
Earlier in the year, we invited 15 cancer survivors, fighters and their supporters from our online community to come into our office and bravely share their stories. We believe that in addition to writing about your cancer experience, talking about it with others is a valuable coping tool. Our hope was for our members to not only share their experiences with us, but also with one another. Within the first hour of the event, it was clear that this hope was coming to fruition. People were bonding over the similarities of their experiences almost instantly. The “cancer conversation” wasn’t something that was tabooed, as many people find that it is in daily life. Rather, it was welcomed, because everyone had a story to tell and something to learn from each other’s experiences. As part of the interview process we asked each member what they would say to cancer and here’s what they had to say.
The responses were not only inspirational, they were extremely honest and real. So go ahead and let it out. It just may be the release you need. Write it in Dear Cancer, a journal, or say it out loud. We’re listening.
What would you say to Dear Cancer?
Mailet Lopez is a breast cancer survivor and the founder of IHadCancer.com—a social support network that helps survivors, fighters and supporters connect with each other. Mailet is also co-founder of the award winning digital agency Squeaky Wheel Media, which is both an Ad Age Small Agency of the year recipient and INC 5000 fastest growing company.
IHadCancer is an online cancer support community that empowers people to take control of life before, during and after cancer. It allows cancer fighters, survivors and their supporters find real support and real answers from those who have been there.