Updated: Mar 11
From a self proclaimed worry-wart cancer survivor
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After 9 years of struggling with the worry that the stage IV cancer would come back to kill me (read that heck-of-a-story here), I’ve found a few things that has helped me gain back control of what was once mine. My mind. It’s not fair that cancer robs us of so many things and then still lingers in our minds after treatment is over. When I think about that fact, I get angry. And that just pushes me to do something about it, to change it.
So, that’s why I want to share what I’ve learned either out of anger or sheer desperation that has helped rid my life of the constant worry and fears that tend to haunt us during life after cancer.
1. Accept that it is out of your control
Ouch. That one hurts. Especially for us survivors who strive so hard to have a sense of control now that the "ultimate incontrollable situation" is supposed to be behind us. But it's true. With accepting that it's out of your control, you'll start to find the pressure being taken off of you to try to control the situation with your worry. Because let's face it. Worry does not equal control. Worrying does not change anything for the better. If the cancer does return, your worry isn’t going to prevent or fix it. What happens is not up to you. As scary as that statement is, it can actually set you free (more on this down below on #5).
2. Designate a "worry time."
But wait, isn't the purpose of this whole thing to help me NOT worry? Yes, yes it is. But, surprisingly this works if you do it right. Here's how to do it effectively.
3. Do only one thing a time.
Yep, Mrs. Multitasking Pro here is telling you to slow down and focus on one thing at a time. Overwhelm adds to cycle of worry that your mind can easily trap itself in. It helps calm the mind to zero in on something, finish it, and then move to the next (and hey, you might even get a sense of accomplishment along the way).
UGH. Another one I don't care to hear if I'm being honest. But it does help to get your body moving and sweat out those negative toxins. A lot of people find that working out relieves stress immediately, however for me, I’ve found that it works best to be consistent with it. One time isn’t going to magically fix my worry issue. You need to do this as more of an effort to stay ahead of the worry, much like your oncologist told you about taking your pain medicines correctly to stay ahead of the pain. It’s much easier to manage something early on before it gets completely miserable.
This is actually what I do first, however I’m listing it last for one reason. Those of you who do not pray would not want to read this blog if this were #1. And I want to help everyone, because I feel that the more people I can help, the more people will be drawn to Jesus, slowly, one step at a time. So, if you’re still reading…here’s how I pray and what it does for me.
I talk to God like a friend, it’s nothing fancy. I don’t get down on my knees, or even end them in Amen half the time. It’s seriously just me blabbering to God.
Here’s an example:
“God, I’m a mess right now. I’m scared. I want to believe that you have a good plan for me, but it’s hard to believe that when I have these fears screaming in my ear. Please help me. Please help me overcome this worry that I’m drowning in. Please help me hand this worry over to you and so that I can feel your comfort. I need help.”
Next, I go to my bible or a devotional and read. Each time I do this, I find comfort. I might need to do this several times a day, before bed, or even in the middle of the night so I can go back to sleep. But each and every time, He guides me into His rest.
He tells me things like this:
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1 Peter 5:7
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34
“Can all these worries add a single moment to your life?” Matthew 6:27
“Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” Matthew 6:26
Now, let's go back to #1 on the blog post; do you now see why the statement “What happens is not up to you” can be freeing? It’s because what happens is up to someone greater than us. It’s up to God. Did you know it says to not worry or be afraid in the bible 365 times? That’s one a day people. God is telling you each and every single day not to worry. To cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you. Because every little detail about you matters to Him. Even this one that you’re worried about right now.
I hope that helps bring some peace to your worries. That's what helps me. And I'm definitely not perfect. Somedays it feels like I take 2 steps forward and 3 steps back in the fight against worry, but at least I'm trying.
Do you have something to add for others to try? Drop it in the comments below.
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