Managing Your Daily Life With Breast Cancer
You thought your life was busy before, but now you’re dealing with breast cancer too! Medical appointments, tests, surgeries, and treatments are being added to your already full schedule. With breast cancer treatments taking up so much of your time and energy, how can you maintain a balanced life as a breast cancer patient?
Is that even possible?
Is it possible to take care of your kids, keep up with the work at your job, retain some semblance of a clean home, do what’s important to you, and go through breast cancer treatments?
The answer? Yes and No.
You can maintain a balanced lifestyle, but you must realize your life is changing and adjust to this new normal.
And, to adjust to your new normal, you need an action plan – a way to simplify, prioritize, and organize. A plan to help you make the most of your time and energy during your cancer journey.
Tips to Balance Your Life During Breast Cancer
You Can’t Do It All
Unfortunately, there’s no way you can do everything you did before you received your cancer diagnosis. Breast cancer treatments require immense time and energy, and you must focus on getting well. Don’t try to fit your cancer into your busy schedule and keep up with everything else too.
Instead, edit and prioritize your lifestyle for the time being. You’ll be surprised how much smoother your life will be.
Decide what is most important for you to accomplish each day.
As mentioned above, your number one priority during this time must be yourself. Devote your attention to your health and healing and put your needs above others. I know, as a woman, this isn’t easy. We’re used to caring for others. But for now, it’s essential to your healing.
Remember what the flight attendant says at the beginning of a flight? She says in case of emergency, to always put your oxygen mask on before placing one on your child. Why is this? Because you need oxygen for energy to take care of your child.
And it’s the same principle here. You need to care for yourself first so you’re healthy enough to care for your family for years to come.
So, make your number one priority yourself.
What else is most important to you? If you have children, then there are things you want and need to do with them. Events in their lives you don’t want to miss. These will be your next priority. Another priority might be your job if you must work during your treatments. Whatever your top priorities are, write them down.
Maintaining Balance by Managing Your To Do List
Decide What Needs to be Done
Next, spend some time writing down everything that needs doing during this time. These are the necessary things we must do, such as getting groceries, preparing meals, doing laundry, cleaning the house, chauffering kids, etc.
For now, don’t worry about how you’ll accomplish these tasks. Just write them down. We’ll get back to them in a minute. But before we do, let’s move on to the next step.
Let it Go for Now
Anything you can let go of, for right now, do so. If you lead a Women’s Bible Study each week, you may want to ask someone else to take charge while you recover. Perhaps you’re the president of your local PTA or have other commitments that aren’t your top priorities. Make arrangements to have these obligations covered by someone else. Let go of these lesser important duties for the time being.
Remove everything you don’t have to do so you can concentrate on your health.
Now that you’ve decided on your priorities and weeded out the non-essentials, it’s time to decide how to handle the necessary chores and activities of home and family.
Letting Others Help With Essential Tasks
Ask for Help
What responsibilities can you ask someone to help you accomplish? Perhaps your children are in sports, and you always go to every practice and every game. Could their father or someone else, your spouse, friend, or a family member, take them to the practices, and you attend the games?
Asking for help can be difficult, but it’s essential to do so. If someone offers to do something for you, consider accepting it. The Lord sends people into our lives during times of need. Remember, helping you can be a blessing to them. Don’t rob them of their blessing as well as your own.
And don’t be afraid to ask someone for help. Let the person know it’s okay if they can’t, and don’t be offended if they can’t. However, they may be looking for ways to help but don’t know what to do. Give them the opportunity by asking them.
Turn Over Responsibilities to Other Family Members
If most of the responsibilities of running a household fall on you, now is the time to relinquish some of those responsibilities.
Enlist the help of your family. Explain to your husband and children you need their help and ask them to take on extra chores and duties.
You’ll be amazed at what even the youngest children can do. When my daughter was four, she gathered her dirty clothes and sorted them into bins in the laundry room. She couldn’t read, but I placed index cards with the colors on each hamper so she would know which hamper to put her clothes in.
Your husband and children can help with the dishes, straighten the house, run errands, go grocery shopping, and much more.
Pay Someone to Help You
Sometimes, however, the above two options aren’t feasible. Perhaps your children are too young, your husband’s job demands most of his time, or you don’t have a support system of friends or family nearby to help.
That’s when you may need to pay someone else to do it for you if you can afford it.
Could you hire a housekeeper for a few months so you don’t have to worry about cleaning the house while battling fatigue?
Could you purchase groceries online and have them delivered to you?
Can you hire a babysitter to come in and watch the kids so you can get some added rest?
Look at your needs and responsibilities and think about other options for accomplishing them that don’t require you to do it.
Change Your Perspective
Lower Your Expectations
Letting others take on some of your responsibilities means things won’t get done the way you expect. Your house may not be as clean as when you do it. They may not buy the brand of ketchup you purchase, or they may not do the laundry as often as you do. It’s okay. Accept the help and be grateful you don’t have to do it.
Remember, your goal is to do less, so you have more time to focus on the important things right now.
Simplify Your Life
One of the discoveries I made during my cancer journey was learning how many things I considered essential weren’t important after all. I discovered I was overcomplicating my life. When I began to take a simpler approach to different things, I realized I was just as happy, if not happier, than I was before.
During this time, try to take the easiest approach to everything you want to get done. Always ask yourself:
Does this need to be done?
Is it worth my precious energy?
Can someone else do it?
Is there an easier way to do it?
Remember, Less is more in this season of your life.
Quality over Quantity
Don’t worry about how much you can get done right now. You won’t be able to do as much as you usually do. That’s okay. Instead, focus your limited energy on what is most important.
Say no to anything and everything that doesn’t work for you right now. If a relative asks you to do something you don’t want to do, politely say no. If a friend asks to visit and it’s not a good time for you, tell them you’re not feeling up to it right now.
Remember, it’s okay to say no. You’re not being selfish. You’re taking care of yourself and the way you feel.
Don’t Over Do It
You only have so much energy in one day. Don’t try to do more than you can handle. You’ll pay for it the next day by being so exhausted you have to spend the day in bed. Instead, realize your time and energy limits and plan accordingly.
Try writing down your three most important things to accomplish that day. Then arrange these in order, beginning with the most important as one, the second most important, and then the third. Complete the first task, and if you have energy remaining, go to the second and so forth.
Doing this gives you a sense of accomplishment without the stress of overdoing it.
And check out this post for healthy ways to conquer fatigue and boost your energy.
Be Flexible and Allow Yourself Some Grace
If you’re having a bad day, feeling extra tired, or ill, don’t try to power through it. It will only make you feel worse. Instead, be kind to yourself. Investing in a few hours of self-care will improve the way you feel. Get some rest, take a nap, watch some television, lounge in a recliner with a good book or take a long luxurious bath.
I hope these tips will help you keep your life balanced during breast cancer treatments. Do you have any ideas to add to this list? Please comment below.