Sometimes having cancer can make us feel weak, powerless, and beaten down. We feel like our vitality and our vigor have been stripped right out from under us. It’s ok to feel this way. This shit is hard. From surgery to chemo to radiation to anti-estrogens to fear of dying and just the trauma of the whole situation, it is really hard. It is hard on our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. And that feeling of lost vitality and wondering if we’ll ever get back to a life we love can be one of the most challenging things about the whole experience. But once we acknowledge those feelings, understanding why they arise, and throw a little love to ourselves… then it is time to dig down and find the strength and the resilience that is there in all of us, just waiting to be unleashed. This is when we must believe in ourselves and know that whatever obstacles arise, we can tackle them, one breath at a time, one step at a time, one day at a time. It might take years, but that is ok. We must learn to spread our wings and believe that we will recover, that we will get our lives back, that we will be strong again, that we can do the things we love again. Because if we don’t, if we allow ourselves to stay in that place of weakness, of powerlessness, it can really turn into an ugly vicious cycle, making it harder and harder to pull ourselves out.
So how do we do it? We start small, and take it day by day. Maybe you decide to walk once around your block, or just take a couple of laps up and down your stairs. Maybe you just park your car a little farther away from the entrance at the grocery, and you go out for a short walk on your lunch break. Maybe you renew your gym membership or see if there are exercise classes offered at your cancer center. There are some great facebook groups that can help you get and stay motivated and give you ideas, so check that out if you like facebook. And seek out a community group through your cancer center. Many have amazing support groups with organized activities to help you. (Check out my Resources https://yogawithleona.com/resources/ page for a few examples). Or start a yoga practice? My favorite! I love yoga because you can start wherever you are, at whatever level of fitness you have, with whatever injuries or limitations you might have. With just a little direction, you can learn to practice right at your level, and then slowly progress from there.
Whatever it is that you decide to do, just start slowly and stick with it. Gentle perseverance is key. Then you will start to feel that vitality coming back! You’ll feel more energy. You’ll start to feel strength and flexibility coming back to parts of your body that may have felt like they were asleep. And instead of that negative vicious cycle of weakness and defeat, you’ll feel empowered and even more motivated to keep going the next day. Remember that we must be gentle, patient, and honest with ourselves about how we are feeling. We don’t want to push too hard and end up with an injury that slows progress even more. But we also don’t want to sell ourselves short, and just settle for the exercise regimen or the yoga practice that never challenges us. As you’ve heard me say, we are NOT relegated to do just the gentle yoga forever. We CAN get back to a full, strong practice if we want it. I’ve never been a big runner, but many women get back to triathlons and running marathons after cancer treatment. So don’t let yourself believe that you can’t do something just because you’ve had cancer. You CAN! It just takes time and really listening to ourselves to know when to push and when to rest. Navigating this delicate line, this balance, will teach you to be so in touch with yourself and your body, which will help you in your recovery and in other areas of life.
Having cancer sure can knock us down. But we don’t have to stay there. Find your wings, my friends. You were meant to fly.
Let me know if I can help you in the yoga part of your journey.