Dragon Slayers Lair
Hi Everyone. My name is Daniel and I’m a cancer patient and a survivor, so far.
I’m also a member of the HUB-sponsored cancer support group, ‘Dragon Slayers.’
Prior to the Covid-19 shut down, our group met during the first three Thursdays each month. Those meetings are sorely missed. While the meetings are suspended until further notice, a hopeful sign is the recent partial re-opening of the HUB senior center that our meetings will resume at sometime in the near future.
Anyone is welcome to participate, and a HUB membership is not required. Members are comprised of not only cancer patients, but include cancer survivors, spouses, family and friends, neighbors, care takers and anyone who might have an interest.
Meanwhile to partially fill the void of no meetings, HUB Program Manager Jessica Whisman offered the opportunity to compose an article about our support group for inclusion onto the HUB’s face book page. Readily agreeing to no space limitations and no deadlines, this then, is the first installment.
Peer led, not governed, members are informal while vigorous discussions take place which frequently reveal important information on subjects ranging from treatment actions and plans, medications and supplements, to dietary needs, emotional issues and anything else that might come to mind.
During this current health crisis, many other groups are using Zoom to host meetings. Zoom works well for some, but not all. For the technology challenged, like myself, Zoom is a daunting and difficult venue complicated by internet instability and hardware limitations of my desk top computer.
Therefore, for now, a written narrative will suffice.
Today’s topic will be Stress Management, and is a frequently discussed issue during our meetings.
Stress helps no one. Worry about family, worry about the monthly bills, worry about the medical bills, worry about the weather. Worry.
The psychological weight of the unknown when first diagnosed with cancer brings about a level of stress, that to me, was an event requiring a major shift.
I recall when my dermatologist told me the spot on my nose was cancer back in the fall of 2011, the only word I heard him say was “cancer.” I was forced to make many decisions within a very short period of time and didn’t dwell too much on anything else except the many doctor appointments that needed to be scheduled.
When the oncologists started talking about chemo and radiation treatments that would follow major surgery, thoughts turned to all those relations and friends who had endured the pain and the life disrupting consequences of having poison pumped into their veins and deadly radiation beamed into their bodies.
In most cases, the application of nuclear medicine treatments had not turned out so well.
Not being consumed by fear too much, I battled with the notion of acceptance that I had a fatal disease if left untreated. One of my first oncologists told me right off, “You would be wise to get your affairs in order.” Updated will, a Medical Power of Attorney, life insurance, early retirement, and other details of daily life were addressed.
I suspect that each of us manages our own stress in our own ways, so I will merely share some of the things I try to do and some of the things I try to avoid to achieve serenity while being tossed around in a sea of chaos.
First thing, especially now, I try to avoid watching news on television. I still do, but when it gets over whelming I flip the station to New Age, Soundscapes or Zen music. I try to relax while resting in my recliner, focusing on clearing my mind.
I close my eyes and focus on relaxing all the muscles starting with the top of my head, relaxing my face, shoulders, arms and hands. If I’m still awake by then, I try to relax my upper torso, working down the body to my toes.
By avoiding television news, other options for viewing become more attractive and actually fun. I love the blues and when I hit the blues channel, I immediately get a spiritual lift. I even dance. Your music choice might be country. I suspect you’ll get up and dance, too.
Another viewing choice I’ve stumbled upon are the animal shows, of which there are many. Wildly entertaining they provide a distraction as I catch myself laughing at the antics of a kitten playing with a feather or a string.
Taking leisurely walks, practicing yoga breathing exercises, playing video games and music all have a role in helping me maintain emotional balance during times like these of incalculable stress.
So, I encourage all to find their own path, and remember stress serves no one. The less of it we have the healthier we will be. Also, I try to be optimistic as “This too shall pass.”
In closing our meeting I’d like to share the Serenity Prayer.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Love to all and all you love,