Living with cancer – You aren’t your diagnosis

Living with cancer – You aren’t your diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic News Network

Having a diagnosis of cancer can take over your life. This is especially true during the intense period of initial diagnosis, treatment and immediate recovery.

All of a sudden, you become defined by your diagnosis. Your life is filled with doctor’s appointments, tests, scans, treatment and check-ups. You may no longer be working, and roles may have shifted at home as well as with friends.

It’s easy to lose yourself during this time. However, you aren’t defined by your cancer. What makes you you? Find ways to reconnect with your many life accomplishments during this time.

Never lose sight of the gifts that you have. Perhaps it is your ability to make others laugh, or your love of adventure, music, art, reading or photography.

As you consider what makes you happy, try to think of creative ways to keep the strong connection to doing what you love. Here are a few ideas:

Make a short list of what defined you before you were diagnosed with cancer (mother, father, friend, runner, engineer, traveler, artist, musician, etc.)
Go through the list and make notes next to the things that are the most important to you at the moment.
Create a new list to keep the things that you love in your life during this time.
Add anything new that you’d like to accomplish, including steps on how you think you might accomplish your goals.

When we teach our Moving Forward after Cancer Treatment class, we try to encourage participants to write down a few ideas to bring back the things that are meaningful to them.

This idea also gives you permission to not think of yourself as your cancer diagnosis, but who you are as a person. It’s so wonderful to see the person light up as they talk about what’s important to them.