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Coping with Cancer: How Finding Your Motivation Can Shape Your Journey

Publication: Houston Medical Times, Austin Medical Times

What’s your motivation? That’s a question you might expect to come up in an acting class. But not an oncologist’s office.

After all, motivation – being motivated – sparks a sense of inspiration and action. What spurs you on to tackle the challenges you face? In this sense, finding motivation in the midst of a cancer diagnosis is especially important for many patients.

Your emotional health can impact how you address the physical health challenges associated with fighting cancer. Once the initial shock of diagnosis wears off, you may feel a wide range of emotions, including fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, or guilt. Finding a sense of motivation and hope can help you face what is perhaps one of the hardest challenges you’ll ever experience.

According to the National Institutes of Health, a hopeful outlook can help the body deal with cancer, and scientists are studying whether a positive attitude helps people feel better. Maintaining a positive, motivated attitude is easier said than done, but there are steps you can take to help shift your perspective.

Embrace change

Whether it’s reducing a busy schedule of activities due to lack of energy while undergoing treatment, or a more significant restriction in your physical capabilities, cancer brings change. For some patients, planning their days ahead and going about business as usual is a viable option, but it’s different for everyone. Embracing the changes cancer brings can help make your days feel more manageable. Taking time to focus on what motivates you can help you cope with cancer. No doubt it takes a lot of energy, strength, and perseverance – understanding your limitations doesn’t mean they have to define you.

Evaluate what motivates you

We are all motivated by something – a hobby or passion, time with loved ones, learning new skills, achieving goals, playing sports, or simply spending time in nature. The things that motivate us push us toward new heights and inspire us to keep going during challenging times. For many patients, a cancer diagnosis is time to reflect on what they value most in life and to focus time and energy on what motivates them to look toward the future.

Lean on others

Unhealthy thinking often accompanies cancer – fear of the unknown and questioning whether something you did or did not do caused your illness are examples. When these thoughts move from the back to the front of mind, it’s time to draw strength from others who care about you. Many patients find a sense of motivation from those close to them. The American Cancer Society recommends three types of activities for patients to help stay positive:

  • Don’t go it alone. Involve other people. Have lunch or coffee with a friend.
  • Check the ‘to-do list.’ Activities that give you a sense of accomplishment, like going for a walk or finishing a project are ultimately positive.
  • Cool it.  Do things that make you feel relaxed, such as watching a funny movie with family.  

A serious health diagnosis, like cancer, is deeply personal. While some are vocal, others wish to keep quiet. No matter the approach, embracing change, leaning on those around you for support, and focusing on what motivates you can transform your cancer journey. Texas Oncology is proud to help patients navigate their cancer experience and serve as a source of support and motivation in their fight.

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