Mindfulness & Cancer

A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing moment. Being face-to-face with mortality instantly rearranges your priorities. Even though cancer treatments are getting better, they still turn your life upside-down — medically, financially, socially and emotionally.

Anxiety comes first. The mind starts running automated scripts reminding you of everything you should worry about and all the things that could go wrong. You might blame the cancer for, “giving me these thoughts;” you might even blame yourself for the cancer (it's not uncommon), but all this stress is the result of your previously acquired mental patterns, not of cancer. Mindfulness training helps you calm the anxiety, find peace and live each day to the full.

Friends and loved ones are affected by your diagnosis too, but often don't know how to express it. They may feel guilty for being well, or be afraid of saying the wrong thing. They may even be afraid of you, because in their minds you and the scary C-word are now one. Even though you’re the patient in need of love and support, it may be up to you to help them through their fears. Then, maybe, you can talk openly about what you’re going through. Mindful communication facilitates this.

Some days it’s hard to be courageous. You'll see how others cope and find courage in their example.

Stephen teaches cancer survivors and their carers on Zoom every Friday afternoon at 1:30 pm ET. For more information contact the West Island Cancer Wellness Centre in Montreal.