As a counselor, I’m often asked, “How do I get my old life back?” The short answer to this question is that your life will probably never be the same as it was pre-cancer diagnosis. If you think about it, our lives are made up of many life-changing events, both good and bad. Surviving these experiences help make us the person we are today.
We know that a cancer diagnosis can bring about feelings of anger, guilt, increased vulnerability and of not being in control of your own life. However, a cancer diagnosis can also bring about positive changes, particularly after treatment is complete. You may find yourself seeing things with a new perspective, eliminating constant stressors, and engaging in more meaningful activities.
The transition from cancer patient to cancer survivor can be difficult. As creatures of habit, we become comfortable with any given situation and hold onto what we know. For some, the thought of trying something new can be very frightening, leaving one feeling “stuck in transition” and unable to recognize the progress they’ve already made in moving forward.
Writing a “Dear Cancer…..” letter can be a very helpful tool in letting go and transitioning from cancer patient to cancer survivor. It’s an easy and concrete way to look at all of the changes that have happened to you since your diagnosis. Try starting your letter with “Dear Cancer” and write all of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences since you were diagnosed. Take your time and tell your cancer exactly what you think of it, but also include the good things that came out of your diagnosis. You might be surprised by the positive shift your letter may take. Go ahead - give it a try!
~ Lorraine, Buddy Kemp Cancer Support Center