"I define connection as the energy that exits between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship." -- Brené Brown, Author of The Gifts of Imperfection
When the doctor confirms that cancer is gone, you exhale. For a minute. Your brain shuffles 52 cards in fear of which hand you'll be dealt.
Will it come back?
I can't just go back to normal.
Heck, what's my new normal?
Is there an after-cancer-doctor I can call?
Unfortunately, I haven't found one yet. Good news is there are many aces to turn to during the after cancer period. I remember our family crawling through the transition. There was so much uncertainty and not many people understand what you're going through.
Expect less check-in calls. Fewer meals are delivered in your cousin's Tupperware. Your close friends may want to pop champagne.
When in reality, you need a different kind of support now. You get to create a new normal. Only you can define it and only you can be brave enough to ask for it.
Have you felt seen and heard lately? If not, please speak up. It's time to tell your friends and family exactly what you need. Here's your permission slip to let go of those that don't support you. It's OK.
This is your wellness team. Everyone must be incredible. You deserve that.
I believe relationships fold when expectations aren't expressed. Communication is everything. A simple request can alleviate many sleepless nights. For both of you.
Who's On Your Team?
Take out a piece of paper or open Evernote. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Write at the top "My Wellness Team." Then list exactly what you need. Look at every corner of your life: Friendships, Family, Career, Creativity, Home Life, Finances, Spirituality, Travel, Exercise, Diet, etc.
Write whatever comes to mind. Journal in luminous detail the support you really need. If it gives you peace of mind, it's a priority. Your health is a wonderful investment.
Make it your job to build the ultimate team of people who make your body, mind, and soul feel calm every day, in every way. (If you're not up to it, ask your family to help. It is your job to start the conversation though.)
Like choosing a life partner, take your time. Go on lots of first dates until you find a match. Ask yourself, "Do I trust this person?"
Maybe you need a private chef or dog walker. Would a visiting hair stylist or massage therapist be nice? Perhaps talking to a psychologist would help. Imagine having a health coach who maps out a customized anti-cancer lifestyle plan and supports you through it.
There is no such thing as too much support. Trust me, it takes a village. Get clear on your needs and ask for recommendations. Facebook is great for this.
How to Identify the Right People For Your Team
Remember meeting a new friend and you instantly click? You have so much in common, the conversation spills into hours. When you go home, you still feel like there's so much to say to your new friend.
Finding the right person should feel like this. Exciting. Open hearted. Like you can't wait to see them again.
This is an opportunity to ask for what you want. Be clear in expressing the type of support you need and how you like to receive it. If you're unclear, take the Love Languages Quiz.
There are five love languages: 1) Physical Touch, 2) Acts of Service, 3) Words of Affirmation, 4) Gifts, and 5) Quality Time. Learn which language makes you feel the most loved.
Communicate everything you need to your team. Ask if they feel comfortable with your requests. Trust me when I say, you'll just know who's right for you. Your body is an amazingly intuitive tool. The answer should be, "ABSOLUTELY!" If you're unsure, it's a no.
How to Get Out Of Your Own Way
It's OK to feel sad, confused, or angry. You've been through a lot. Emotions are a part of the healing process. It's normal. Sometimes we don't know how to deal. Psychotherapists or Life Coaches are wonderful at holding up mirrors to our blind spots. Talk therapy is great, but so are other modalities. Try things that speak to you. Find what feels good to you.
If you're having a really down day, I'll tell you a secret. Whenever I feel that way, one thing always puts a smile on my face.
Help someone else.
Being of service gives new meaning to your life. Smile at a stranger. Call a friend to say hello. Record a video for a client. Send a gift in the mail. Help someone get something off a really high shelf. Pay for someone's coffee.
By cheering someone up, it cheers you up. This is your new goal. Help someone out once a day. The joy you feel in return is marvelous.
"Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help." -- Brené Brown, Author of The Gifts of Imperfection