You might be surprised, disappointed or even angry to find so many issues in your life post treatment. Recovery can be stunningly slower than your exptectations. You may, or may not, look “fine” but you will be different in many ways. Some will be temporary, some permanent.
I’ve developed four strategies to help me on the long climb out of the valley of cancer: Maximize, Mitigate, Recouperate and Trust, not necessarily in that order.
Maximize the skills, strength and abilities that have returned. Praise God for the healing that has occurred, then ask Him to show you what you can do — with what you can do!
Mitigate your limitations. Develop strategies to work around limitations that impact you routinely. When I learned that other cancer survivors had difficulty writing an outline, I learned how to do a mind map. My post-chemo brain seems to freeze up when I attempt to write an outline, but the mind map technique allows my thought processes to fly. Once the mind map is complete, I’m able to easily convert it to an outline. I’m faster with the two step process than I was writing an outline prior to chemo!
Recouperate. Don’t “buck up” and pretend there are no more issues. A life of praise and gratitude doesn’t mean you are sticking your head in the sand. Praise and gratitude for the things you can do and the mitigation strategies you’ve identified so far free you to face your remaining limitations with God and seek all the ways in which He will lead you to recovery. For me, this includes sleep, exercise, eating well, some key supplements and constantly consciously returning to praise, gratitude and laughter.
Trust in God’s Direction. Where recovery seems uncertain — or impossible — return to praise for the things you can do and the mitigation strategies you’ve developed. Remind yourself of the great God who is able to bring glory to His name through any circumstances. Ponder the Red Sea. You are called to be a willing participant in God’s plan for all mankind. Sometimes the part in which we are cast gives us the honor of praying, like Christ, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Are you willing to serve God with limitations? We all have them, it’s just new ones that rub us so hard the wrong way.
I found it harder to trust God to help me after chemo than during it. During chemo, my job was to keep a good attitude and “get through.” It was tough, but all expectations on my performance were off.
Post chemo, however, expectations returned to their pre-cancer levels — but I did not. I was no longer as smart or as energetic as I had been, and it has taken four years to get back to a place that seems similar to pre-cancer. Even here, I have supplements that help me maintain mental clarity — that I dare not skip. It has been a learning experience for me to trust God when I feel inadequate to do what is clearly my responsibility to accomplish. God is not a genie: not every answer is yes. As I learned to trust Him with my life, live or die, I am learning to trust Him with my performance, succeed or fail. I’m not done learning, I’m sure.
You are not alone. Others are here with you. Most importantly, God has allowed your path to lead to this place. He has a gracious plan for your life. I pray God’s blessings on you as you find it!