By Dr Phang Cheng Kar (M.D.)
5. Stay focussed on the present. Our mind, in particular during challenging moments tend to time-travel to the past with guilt and future with excessive worries. As an antidote, try to heighten your attention to the present moment by repeatedly focusing on what you hear (e.g., birds chirping), touch (wind brushing against the skin), or see (beautiful flowers) with a sense of curiosity.
6. Use positive coping statements and imagery to transform negative thoughts. Examples of coping statements include “Every moment in every way, I’m becoming healthier and happier” and “Things may not get better, but I can always learn to cope better.” As for positive imagery, it can be imagining cancer cells receiving blue healing energy during radiotherapy. Let the cancer cells transform into healthy cells. The mind has tremendous power in healing – make good use of it.
7. Get spiritual support through prayer, meditation, chanting or other practices that help you feel more at peace. You may need the guidance of a monk, pastor or other religious leaders. For a spiritual person, invoking divine powers (e.g., from Buddha, Allah, God) can be powerful in supporting mind-body healing.
8. Find meaning or purpose in cancer. It is inspiring to hear how some cancer survivors make peace with and express gratitude for their illness. There is a silver lining in everything, including cancer. These are some of the commonly reported lessons from having cancer:
It helps me to prioritize the things I want to do
I have learned to appreciate the simple joys of everyday life
I am more spiritual and connected to God
I know who are the genuine friends in my life
I am more empathetic than before
9. Caregivers should take good care of themselves to avoid burnout. Take care of your body; make time to exercise, eat healthy foods, drink sufficient water, and get enough sleep. Avoid alcohol and smoking. Take care of your mind too; be kind to yourself, express your feelings, find time for yourself and other relationships, and get help in supporting yourself and the one you are caring for.