On April 15, 2009, I suddenly went from active to temporarily disabled as a result of my mastectomy and TRAM flap reconstructive surgery.
I wasn’t used to being benched and, as a wife and mother, I certainly wasn’t used to putting my needs before others. But, breast cancer gave me no other choice and I was forced me to stop, breathe and take care of myself first.
I was frustrated at times, but came to accept that healing was my job and it was impossible to heal without comfort.
Now that I’m physically healed, it’s much harder to prioritize comfort. In fact, sometimes I find myself resisting it because I want to throw myself back into daily life and push beyond my comfort zone.
But, life is always going to require healing. And healing is always going to require comfort.
No matter where you are with cancer, you need to make comfort a priority. Here’s how to go about creating more comfort in your world:
1. Concentrate on the little things that make you happy: Whether it’s a favorite sweater, dog, yoga class, or driving with the top down, if it makes you happy, make sure to enjoy it more often. To get that done, start paying attention to what makes you smile. And then make the effort to bring those things into your life. You deserve it.
2. Rest: Give in to fatigue. Initially, it speaks to you in whispers, but tends to scream like a banshee when ignored. To keep it from getting to that point, learn to shut down at a reasonable hour at the end of the day. Put a premium on rest and getting to sleep and you will be more productive in the long run.
3. Make home a haven of comfort: Every autumn and spring, I seasonalize my home. In autumn, I put out comfy throws in the family room, including a faux fur one I got from Pottery Barn. Sitting under that throw is one of my sweetest comforts when the wind is howling outside and I hate to see it go in the spring.
4. Stay in touch: Keep communicating and sharing. While I was treating, I was immersed in support groups, therapy and events that put me in weekly contact with other cancer patients/survivors. Eventually, that came to an end. I still meet with other survivors by working with the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project. And, of course, I stay in touch with the friends I made along the way. Their inclusion in my life is a constant comfort and source of support.
5. Maintain a soul practice: Whether you are part of a religious community, pray, meditate, or commune with nature, spend some time developing a soul practice. Take your practice one step further by creating a sacred space of peacefulness and healing at home, where you can take a moment to stop, breathe and find comfort anytime you need it.
6. Finish this sentence: I find comfort in ——. Write down whatever you think of without censoring yourself. When you’re finished writing, review what you’ve written and think about how to bring those things into your life today.
It’s been said many times that life begins outside your comfort zone. I don’t believe it. Comfort fortifies and heals and, without it, we don’t have what it takes to venture out into the world and take risks.
How do you do comfort? Let me know and I’d love to hear how you finished the sentence in tip number six. Make sure to tell me in the comments below.