Getting the news that you have cancer is daunting at any age. During your 30’s and 40’s cancer can be difficult to accept. During these years, you are already faced with
- Taking care of parents
- Gaining stability in life
- Purchasing a home
- Maintaining relationships
- Pursuing your career
According to Amanda Schaffer in her article:
Being diagnosed with cancer changes your perspective on everything,” she said. “You think: ‘Wow, I could be dead next year. And there are so many things I haven’t done.”
Young people’s tumors may have distinct genetic and biological features, these researchers say. And survivors face unique psycho-social issues — as they think about future fertility, finishing school or starting a career.
Dr. Bruce A. Chabner, clinical director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, notes that overall survival rates of young adults are still better than those of older adults, reflecting the differences in tumor types and better tolerance of treatment in younger patients.
As of 2003, the last year for which statistics were available, the five-year survival rate was 78.5 percent for people ages 20 to 39, and 68 percent for those 40 to 69, according to the American Cancer Society.
Finding better ways of coping during and after your cancer treatment is key.
Here are 7 ways of coping with cancer in your 30’s and 40’s.
1. Exercise Mindfulness
Doctors, researchers, and patients alike believe in the power of mindfulness. You cannot allow your mind to be separate from your body. You must be mindful of your mental and physical health. Take time to rest both your body and your mind.
Carolyn Gregoire in an article for Huffington Post wrote about the benefits of mindful meditation:
Mindfulness meditation is known to have a positive emotional and psychological impact on cancer survivors. But some groundbreaking new research has found that meditation is also doing its work on the physical bodies of cancer survivors, with positive impacts extending down to the cellular level.
Practicing mindfulness meditation or being involved in a social support group causes positive cellular changes in breast cancer survivors, according to researchers at the Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary.
Lead researcher Dr. Linda Carlson of the Tom Baker Cancer Center said in a statement,
We already know that psycho-social interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology.
In a detailed study, Carlson and her team found that telomeres (DNA sequences at the end of chromosomes) were longer among a group of breast cancer survivors who had a mindfulness practice or participated in a support group, compared to survivors who didn’t utilize such outlets.
You must exercise mindfulness to ensure that your negative thoughts don’t build up to cause physical problems, such as panic attacks. You also need to be mindful of your body, especially during treatment. Stick to your diet and get plenty of rest.
2. Stick to Your Medication and Treatment
Adhering to medication and your prescribed treatments is absolutely crucial to your recovery. Remember: cancer pills are just as important as injections and other treatment you may be receiving. This may be difficult to maintain during busy schedules or traveling, but you must do your best to follow your doctor’s directed medication schedule.
3. Keep Your Life as “Normal” as Possible
Facing cancer at a your age disrupts all sense of normalcy you previous had. Your definition of a “normal” life may completely shift. However, it is a good idea to maintain a basic sense of “normal” within your life. Keep in touch with your friends and family, moderately exercise, take part in clubs, classes, or social gatherings–whatever keeps you grounded.
4. Continue to Build Your Career and Life
If you cannot continue your career with cancer, there are many options. You can pursue your career online. Age plays no factor in the success of a freelancer, online teacher, or any online profession.
It’s key to avoid thinking like you are dying and start living like you are living, and will live for a long time. Having hope and purpose provides great energy. Stop the negative thoughts and achieve your goals.
If you wish to have children, you still have this option as well. You can adopt, seek a surrogate mother, seek artificial insemination–There are so many options, anyone can have a baby, so why not adopt a baby that needs a home?
5. Take It Day By Day
It’s key to cease thinking like you are dying and start thinking like you are living. It is so easy to become overwhelmed and weighed down by negative thinking. Take things step by step, day by day. Every day, work towards building small habits that could help you cope. The progress over time will be increasingly beneficial.
6. Join an Online Support Group
The emotional and physical stress of fighting a prolonged cancer battle can be eased with social support. However, it can be difficult–even impossible–to attend a traditional support group meeting when cancer leaves you exhausted and over-scheduled. Online support groups exist to address that need.
With aGroupforME, you can join an online, video-chat based support group for people with cancer, cancer survivors, and even the relatives of cancer patients. From the comfort of your home, you can attend regularly scheduled meetings and express your struggles to those who can empathize. Meetings are intimate, with just 8-10 members, and led by a vetted moderator. aGroupforME’s platform makes getting support easy and convenient.
7. Take Every Opportunity to Be Grateful
It can be difficult to find positives in your experience, so take every opportunity you can to do so.
If you can remember that recovery levels are much better in the western world than in other parts of the world, you can help your mind navigate away from dark, negative thoughts.
Even in your everyday life, take the simple positives (like family, friends, nature, etc.) and channel that positivity to improve your mood and mindset. It is much easier said than done, but gratefulness is a very beneficial–even crucial–mindset to adapt.