Things that legitimately made me feel better post-cancer diagnosis

After an unsuccessful day of trying to catch a flight to Nashville (since our flight tomorrow is already cancelled due to the nor’easter headed our way), I can stay up late since I no longer have a 6am flight out. It also means I have time for a new blog post!

Packing for Nashville got me thinking about all the fun things I’ve done since I got my brain cancer diagnosis. I know “fun” and “brain cancer” in the same sentence sounds bizarre, but I’ve found myself living more now than I was before the diagnosis.

I’m in a much more positive head space these days, and I thought I’d share some of the things that helped me get here.

 

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Celebrating every little victory.

Stitches from surgery finally being removed. Final radiation appointment. First round of chemo completed. Unremarkable MRI scan. Increased platelets. Some victories are smaller than others, but celebrate them all! We usually have a fun date night or a nice bottle of champagne at home after a good MRI. After my stitches were removed, my husband brought home flowers. Even if it’s just a night in and you pick the movie, or if it’s something more extravagant like a spa massage, treating yourself when you have a victory will make you feel a lot better!

Joining a local support group.

At first I was hesitant to join a support group. Now that I’ve been to 6 months of consistent bi-monthly meetings, I can’t believe I waited as long as I did to join my group. And I’m lucky enough that my hospital has a brain tumor specific support group! Hearing other people with similar illnesses, and meeting people who have survived their tumor for 20+ years certainly helps me feel better! There are always a few sad stories too, but overall, joining a support group with people in an extremely similar situation has been enormously helpful. I’ve met some pretty awesome people, too!

Booking a trip. 

If you can’t fly, book a staycation! If you can fly (I was cleared 6 weeks post-surgery), plan a fun vacation somewhere that you love, or somewhere you’ve never been. My 30th birthday fell 4 months after my brain surgery, and so my husband and I went to my favorite place – Walt Disney World! We had a great time and for the first time since surgery, I felt truly happy and completely forgot about the hell that is brain cancer. Our little trip to Nashville that’s been delayed due to weather was booked on a whim. We’ve never been to Nashville together but both love country music, so we figured why not?!

Hitting the gym regularly.

I had to wait several months before I could get back into a gym routine (apparently after brain surgery, there’s a recovery period…who knew?!) but once I did, it made me feel normal again. It also made me feel physically stronger, which is something I desperately needed. Now, I get very agitated if I don’t have time to make it to the gym!

Picking up a new hobby (or getting back into an old one).

I’ve always been a creative person, and writing, painting and reading are all things I’ve always enjoyed. Prior to my diagnosis, I had been so caught up in the 8am-6pm working world that I didn’t have time for myself and I let those hobbies slide. After recovering from surgery, I started keeping a journal again for the first time in years, and also started reading again (I have some great recommendations if anyone is interested in cancer survivor stories). I’ve spent more time painting, and all of these activities are very soothing and are passions of mine. I’m also picking up a new hobby – blogging! It’s important to find hobbies to keep your mind off of the “cancer” (as much as possible, anyway) and to keep busy if you’re unable to return to work. Also, reading keeps your brain sharp!

 

Oh, and by the way – our flight has been rebooked so I think we will get to Nashville after all!

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