Emotional Tools for Coping with Cancer

Conduct a "Personal Inventory"

Look at your cancer diagnosis as an alarm, a wake-up call, to examine your life. One of the first steps towards reestablishing health is to take stock and identify what factors in your life have contributed to creating this illness. This "inventory" should include an examination of one's personality, lifestyle, and environmental factors that have created an opportunity for this serious illness to take hold. If you don't attend to the causative factors and those factors remain in your life, you will keep recreating the environment for cancer to thrive.

Take a close look at your life, including the quality and dynamics of you job, major relationships, living situation, and sexual habits. The more thorough the self-examination, the more likely you will recover and not suffer future relapses. As a starting point, ask yourself the following questions:
  • What has my attitude been about myself?
  • Do I really love and honor myself?
  • What is my purpose in life?
  • What are the primary goals I would like to accomplish?
  • What makes me unique?
  • Do I exist in an environment which is not conducive to health? Am I exposed to toxins in my home or workplace?
  • Do I have emotional factors in my personal life and relationships that thwart or suppress my immune system?
  • Is my diet sufficient?  Has my diet been appropriate to the task of creating immune competence?
Think about these areas of your life in a deliberate and organized way. Any one of these factors, or the cumulative effect of two or three, can potentially cause a cancerous condition. This illness may be your opportunity to rediscover what is truly important in your life and to make changes accordingly.

"The best approach to cancer is one that combines interventions for the mind, body, soul, and current emotional state," says Victor Marcial-Vega, M.D., of Coconut Grove, Florida. "The only way to fully recover from cancer is to identify and connect with those parts within oneself that are wounded, repressed, or in need of healing attention. " A willingness to pay attention to inner signals is the first step toward greater self-awareness and a clearer, more expansive sense of self. True healing is largely a process of getting to know oneself, says Dr. Marcial-Vega.

Cancer is a sign that your life is out of balance. Many people are living in disease—eating in an unhealthy way, overloaded with toxins, overworked and overstressed, or in unhealthy relationships. When the human body is free from chronic distress, it is far more resistant to toxic insults from the environment that can trigger the onset of cancer. Evaluating the stressors in your life and determining which lifestyle factors as well as personality traits, such as being able to express emotions rather than contain them, will not only allow you to gain a greater understanding of yourself, but actually facilitate the healing process.

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