by Claire Nixon
Sometimes life with stage IV is like any other day, diagnosed or not. Other times, you might be looking for a little inspiration.
Recently, we asked our stage IV Community members this question:
Are there instances when you rely on a source of inspiration or a strategy for motivation to help you to get through times of struggle when living with stage IV disease? If so, would you be willing to share what you do?
Community members responded:
"I don't know if this qualifies as a strategy exactly as it is a bit complex but below is the approach I have taken to deal with my ups and downs. I do want to make it clear that there are times, like everyone, when I struggle. But so far, those days have been few.
"What's my strategy? I remind myself that each story is unique and that my situation is not dictated by old statistics. I also have a bit of a mantra: 'There are two ways to do this - Crying, gnashing my teeth and playing the blame game, or rolling with the punches, staying positive, laughing and working through the options with my oncologist as if he is a partner in crime rather than only my physician.’ Ultimately, I feel that, for me, all the crying, worrying and anger will do little to change this story. If anything, it might have a detrimental effect. Instead I choose to live, laugh and enjoy. (I also refuse to give up life's little pleasures, primarily [red wine].)
"Recently a colleague asked me to go for coffee. She has recently been diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and was amazed at how good I looked (despite the twice weekly drainage of my lungs and the Ibrance fatigue) and my overall positive attitude. I explained my mantra to her and I do think it helped (and BTW she has had some positive news from a recent scan). Ultimately it comes down to one thing... I absolutely refuse to wallow. Not in my DNA!"
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"I've created a playlist on Spotify and added songs that I've found encouraging, grounding, or peace inspiring. When I'm having a panicky day or start to worry, I play a few of those songs to help me get back on track."
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"I love nature! If I need to quiet my mind, I go outside and it seems I can always find something beautiful to focus on...birds, butterflies, how the sun shines through trees, etc.
"For motivation I have 2 horses and 2 dogs. Taking care of them or playing with them gets me going. You might laugh but there are days like today, when I don't want to get out of bed, but I have a horse with skin issues, huge needs [and] special medicine done. I got up because I was not going to let him suffer just because I overdid it yesterday. Then the dogs needed to be fed [and] I had a meeting this afternoon about a local support group I want to start here locally. Next thing I know it’s late afternoon and I have been productive all day!
"One other thing, laughter! This morning a friend posted an old comic clip of Red Skelton. I laughed until my stomach hurt! Find a funny book, a clip of a comedian and have a good belly laugh!"
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"My art is what takes me away to another place. Focusing on a beautiful project leaves no room for ruminating on the dark stuff... I feel a sense of accomplishment which is important to me and it is something I will be leaving behind for others to enjoy and remember me."
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"When I am feeling down or frustrated, I stop and make a list of things in my life that are good and that I am thankful for. I focus on what I have and what cancer CAN NOT take from me."
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"My personal mottos and mantras are 'Why am I going through all of this to try and prolong my life, if I am not going to go out and actually live it?' and 'I am more than my diagnosis'. Repeating these things myself help me during my down days to motivate myself to do 'small' or 'normal' things, like meeting a friend for lunch or a movie or shopping.
I also find that advocating (being a member of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance), fundraiser (I'm the top individual fundraiser for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation), and sharing my story and experiences (as a writer and staff member of www.theunderbelly.org) are all motivating. Helping advance research, understanding, and policy for MBC on behalf of all MBC patients, myself included, helps keep me going. Knowing that I maybe working towards potentially preventing others go through what we are all currently going though is a huge motivating factor.
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