The Treatment Mind Game: How to Feel Better During Chemotherapy

Treatment // October 28, 2015

When fighting a battle against cancer, finding ways to feel uplifted and motivated to move forward is crucial. While treatment is meant to create a path towards healing, the actual process and resulting side effects can be painful and emotionally difficult to manage. For example, chemotherapy often causes nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, and depression.

Many options for managing these side effects focus on the body and lessening physical discomfort. However, during this journey, believing in the power of the mind and the thoughts you have can also really make a difference. Here are some ways to help manage the emotional toll treatment can take.

Positive Post-Its

Staying positive can sometimes feel like an insurmountable task. To help shift your mindset towards the self-supportive end, surround yourself with positive affirmations and behaviors. This includes the people you allow around you. Take some notes from this Do Great campaign and share it with your loved ones. Keep a gratitude journal and read it often. Try putting sticky notes all around your house that say things like, “you will get better, you will do great.”

Breathe Better

Rather than trying to meditate, which can quickly become a frustrating and counterintuitive chore, spend some time with your breath. This subconscious process can be used as a tool against feelings of anxiety and also bouts of nausea. Look around and see what kinds of breathing exercises seem to help you. Try counting your breath, or simply breathing deeply and focusing on or visualizing those physical sensations.

Similarly, when having a treatment, visualize the chemo killing the bad cells. Visualize your body healing.

Uncensor Yourself

To say you’re going to feel a lot of different things on your treatment journey is an understatement. Feelings of guilt may trick you into a mode of suffering in silence. Don’t. Staying positive is important, yes, but so is allowing yourself to be in a bad mood. You’re going to want to cry, yell, scream. Let yourself, then move on.

Read Stuff Not About Cancer

It’s easy to find yourself constantly in a cancer-this-cancer-that rabbit hole. It’s important to know what it is you need to, but beyond that, pull yourself out of the hole and read other things you enjoy. Perhaps a magazine, a comic, an old favorite book, or a new one you’ve been meaning to check out. Take the opportunity to get away from the computer screen and visit your local library. If it’s nearby, opt for the walk.

Find Your Funny Bone

Don’t underestimate the power of laughter. Know someone who can always make you laugh? Invite them over. Have a favorite comedy show? Set up a Netflix binge. Do the same for things you find beautiful, and for things that make you feel good about yourself. Seek out the good.

Look To Your Superheros

Who do you admire? This could be an author, a celebrity, a friend. Chances are, they have some pretty great things to say that you’ll believe in. Write them down or recite them in your head. Some cited favorites of cancer survivors include:

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

“When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Also, become your own superhero. Walk like the warrior you are and soon you’ll believe it.