How to regain a lust for life after a life-threatening illness

Jo Lamble has some tips to help Pauline regain her lust for life.

lust for life

Recently, Pauline was confronted with the prospect of dying. Now, it looks as if she’s in the clear, but she’s having trouble regaining her lust for life. Jo Lamble has some tips to help Pauline get her mojo back.

Q. Pauline
I have been battling cancer for the past year and, although nothing is guaranteed, it looks as though I’m over the worst and have a future to look forward to. However, this is my problem – I have no enthusiasm. I really thought that when I got the news that I was in remission that I would be ready to embrace life but I find I have no energy or will to do anything. My friends have been a great support but I can sense them starting to back away with each refusal I give when asked to do something. How can I regain my lust for life? Or, at the very least, start to put my illness well and truly behind me?

A. I’m obviously so glad to hear that you are through the worst of this battle. But you are not going to be feeling like your old self for a while longer. I hear from a lot of women who say exactly the same thing – “why don’t I have a new lease on life?” But cancer affects us physically and emotionally.

We don’t stop feeling traumatised when the immediate danger has passed. As with any survivor of a potentially life threatening situation, the effects can last months or years.

Ask your friends to be patient with you. Tell them to keep issuing those invitations and reassure them that you will slowly regain your energy and enthusiasm. And then tell yourself the same thing. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself and try to lower your expectations. Start with doing small things you used to enjoy and gradually build up to your previous level of activity. Perhaps you might use this time to consider a new interest – one that draws your attention to the future and doesn't necessarily take a lot of effort to pursue.

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    7th Jun 2017
    Jo's advice is all very well but probably some kind of professional counselling is warranted here. Pauline should talk to her GP (or oncologist) in the first instance.
    7th Jun 2017
    Pauline, I underwent cancer treatment 12 years ago. I have struggled with depression since and I would strongly recommend you seek professional help at this time. I was not offered counselling and thought it weak of me to ask for help which has probably resulted in years wasted in a fog of doubt. It is perfectly OK to feel the way you do now, the important thing is to find a path to the rest of your life and your new "normal".
    7th Jun 2017
    Chemotherapy zaps every healthy cell in your body. It takes time - lots of it. My hat goes off to anyone who endures cancer treatment. It is torture. The sooner they find a more humane cure the better.
    However it isn't just cancer patients who have difficulty. The more traumatic the surgery the longer the recovery and the self protection mechanism in the brain goes into action. i.e. this was bad I better nurture my inner self.
    Finding people with similar ordeals seems to help - not the ones who start retraining for the Olympics the moment they leave hospital - normal everyday people.
    The other thing that really helped was returning to the specialist and having him tell me I had had a rough time and how well I am doing now. It was of like a, "Really?" moment and it made me feel so much more confident. is OK to start training for the Olympics hehe.

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