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Living with Uncertainty

Living with Uncertainty

We are creatures of habit. When things go as planned, we feel in control. However, when unexpected events occur, such as a being diagnosed with cancer, they remind us that there is only so much we can control, and that life’s uncertainty is inevitable. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty about our health and the health of those we love. Despite robust vaccination efforts, there is still uncertainty, given the additional variants discovered & the rise in cases in some parts of the country. The uncertainties of living with cancer are complex and can include not being able to make plans with family and friends because we have no idea how we are going to be feeling on any given day. It’s common to worry about short-term and long-term side effects from treatment, whether the treatment works, what if the cancer comes back and, of course, how long we have to live. These are powerful unknowns to live with day in and day out, and they can cause anxiety, sadness, anger, and fear. Fortunately, there are ways to manage these feelings and remain grounded and healthy.

Things to consider:

Check out one of Cancer Lifeline’s support groups. Nothing can compare to the feeling of being a part of a community of people who truly understand your experience and “get it.”

You have successfully navigated uncertainty before. You got this! Think about stressful events you have successfully navigated and what tools you have that helped you then.

Stay active. Get your body moving.Physical exercise is key to managing stress and anxiety.  Consider a daily morning or afternoon walk around your neighborhood or register for an online yoga class series.

Focus your mind on new and helpful directions Register for regular classes such as mindfulness, meditation, and stress management.

Create your routine. Sticking to a daily schedule allows you to have structure and control over the things you can control! This includes creating time for sleep, meals, and exercise.

Take a step back. Instead of continuously hitting a roadblock and becoming frustrated with the things you can’t control, stop, breathe, and focus on the things you can control.

Take back some control at your clinic visit. Engage with your healthcare team and become an active participant. Prepare yourself for clinic visits by making a list of questions.

Manage offers of help from others. Decide on what you want to hold onto and what you allow others to help you with. Accepting assistance and help will require turning over some control. What can you accept if it’s not done the same way you would do it?

Talk with family and friends. Set aside uninterrupted time to talk on a regular basis. Think of this as a protected time to just “check-in” with each other. There may not be concerns or issues to address, but knowing the time is scheduled creates regular time and space for conversation. Having the opportunity to talk about all that is running through our heads diminishes the power those unwanted thoughts have over us!

Engage in distractions. Make a list of books you have always wanted to read and start checking them off, or start an art project, create a photo album, learn to paint, or create jewelry. Write, create, or listen to music.

Celebrate your resilience and strength.Stop for a moment and reflect on what you have been able to do so far. We are often quick to see our shortcomings or challenges but not our strengths. Write yourself a letter of admiration, song, or poem, or create a collage. CELEBRATE YOU!

Cancer Lifeline’s FREE Programs and Services for CANCER PATIENTS, SURVIVORS, and CAREGIVERS are here to help you!

Call the Lifeline or connect through Lifeline Chat. Need someone to listen and help you sort out your feelings? Call the Lifeline at (800) 255-5505 or (206) 297-2500 (9am-5pm). Lifeline Chat can be accessed by clicking the green “We are here to listen” button on any page of our website.

Access Cancer Lifeline’s Cancer-Specific Psychotherapy and Family Support Programs: Contact Pamela Krueger at pkrueger@cancerlifeline.org or 206-832-1271.

Access Cancer Lifeline’s Therapist Referral Program: Receive names of therapists in the local community who have experience working with people affected by cancer. Referrals and support in choosing a therapist are available for patients, survivors, family members, friends, and oncology professionals. Referrals are free. Cancer Lifeline does not arrange payment with therapists on behalf of clients or check insurance benefits, this is the client’s responsibility. For more information, call the Lifeline at 206-297-2500 between the hours of 9 am- 5 pm or visit: https://cancerlifeline.org/counseling-services/

Access Cancer Lifeline’s presentations and classes (creative expression, exercise and movement, nutrition, and stress reduction) by going to the Cancer Lifeline website or calling the Lifeline (800) 255-5505 or (206) 297-2500 (M-F 9am-5pm PST.)

You can now participate in our support groups and classes online from the comfort of your home!