I’m steeped in creating my online course, “The Cancer Survivor Fatigue Solution.” One of my greatest challenges in creating this program is making sure cancer survivors who take the course actually get results from it. Getting results will require you to take action with the material I teach.
There are many health education techniques we use to “convince” people to change that are based in medical research. Much of health coaching depends on these techniques and I surely believe in them. But I also believe in joy and fun, so I came up with a concept I just can’t wait to introduce you to, so read on because I’m spilling the beans right now!
Cancer Survivors Are Actually Party Planners
So many cancer survivors want to be and feel well, but they’re not aware of the effort or commitment it takes to get the result they desire. But what if the effort and commitment were actually toward a super fun and joyous life event, like a wedding?
Think of the effort it takes to plan a wedding. Surely most people have done this and know how much research, list making, planning, communicating, and physical effort go into the event. Let’s really run with this analogy. Your desired result, feeling energetic and being well after cancer, is the wedding itself. Now, what components and what kind of effort go into the planning?
Courting and Engagement
The majority of people take great care picking a mate. You become close with a person and then if all goes well, you become engaged. Courting and engagement are actually really about mindset. You prepare yourself to share a life with this person and if you do it well, choose a compatible mate who shares you values, you have greater success in the marriage.
Cancer survivor wellness also requires mindset preparation. And when I say requires, that’s exactly what I mean. It’s a prerequisite to success.
The Guest List
When you invite guests to the wedding, who are they? They’re your family, friends, neighbors, teachers, colleagues - they’re your community. They come to stand witness to your marriage and pledge their support to the union. Marriage is a declaration of your commitment to another person and in being there, your community validates and supports the commitment.
A supportive community is also essential in a cancer survivor’s wellness journey. It is well documented in the medical literature - cancer survivors with strong support systems have better health outcomes, less fatigue, less depression, improved well being, and more resilience. This is why Brio is designing a built-in community as part of its program membership - because it’s essential for success in your efforts toward energy and wellness after cancer.
What would a wedding be without a ceremony? The ceremony connects the spiritual to the physical act of marriage. It’s the mindfulness piece of our analogy.
Mindfulness practice is a way to take care of your brain after cancer. It sets the stage for greater focus, less anxiety, less depression, less pain, and more energy in your life. It’s as essential to your cancer survivor wellness efforts as the ceremony is to a wedding. Mindfulness is a way to take a mental pause to be in the moment right now, without judgement, without action - only with objective observation - which gives cancer survivors control over automatic thoughts and a greater sense of peace.
I think this just might be the most important part of a wedding - great food. Of course, in our analogy, the catering corresponds to nourishing your body after cancer. What you eat makes a huge difference for you if you’re a cancer survivor who wants to have optimal energy and health.
Eating healthy food that tastes great takes a lot of effort. For some cancer survivors, it takes adjustment to a healthier, high fiber, lower sugar, whole foods, healthy fats, lean protein, high vegetable diet. You might need to learn how to cook, how to buy healthy food, how to access local fresh food instead of processed, packaged food.
One of the most important parts of a wedding is definetely one of the most important areas to focus on after cancer, but lots of planning, effort, and open-mindedness will bring great rewards - vitality, a healthy weight, and the assurance you’re giving your body what it needs to stay well.
Dancing and Music
Get on that dance floor and move! I love when everybody gets their boogie on at weddings, especially the kids. As a cancer survivor, movement is also a must must must.
Cancer survivors who exercise have more energy and better health outcomes. The evidence is massive on this point. It takes huge effort to exercise every day. But you have to exercise if you want to maximize your energy and look forward to the best health outcomes possible.
After the deed is done, there’s a reward! A relaxing trip with the one you love.
The thing is, you need a reward for your cancer survivor wellness efforts too. Plan to get yourself a gift. Take a second honeymoon with the one you love. Plan a spa day. Make sure when you reach your wellness goals after cancer you treat it like an accomplishment and give yourself what you deserve, even if it’s something small! Take the space to acknowledge all you’ve been through and reflect on what’s ahead.
It has been said, “Healthy marriages take work.”
Yep - the same thing goes for cancer survivor wellness. Once you reach your wellness goals, you enter a maintenance phase. You’ve got to keep up the effort or things will slip. The same way a great marriage takes ongoing communication, compromise, and patience, even as you change, age, and face life challenges.
Your wellness efforts will turn into habits if done right, so things can get easier in your maintenance period. The cool thing is though, if you’ve done the real work of a seasoned party planner, you’ll have a flexible wellness framework in place to serve you through these changes.
So, you’ve probably planned a wedding successfully, right? Or another large event that required lots of effort and forethought? You’ve done everything necessary to pull it off in the past, why not do the same for your cancer survivior wellness party? You can do it, and the stakes are higher than ever to pull this thing off.
So it’s official, you’re a cancer survivor wellness party planner! Make lists, priorities, and goals, gather your community if you need help, accountability, and support, map it all out on a calendar, dig out some healthy recipes, take dance lessons, take a walk and go shopping at the farmer’s market. It might take extra time, it might pull you out of your comfort zone, but the reward for making the effort is waiting for you.
I can’t wait for your party, Survivor!