Steal Back the Best Parts of Yourself Through Self-Care
Last updated: June 2023
What do you do when MBC (Metastatic Breast Cancer) is stealing your life bit by bit with the pain, worry, and appointments? You steal it back! Steal back the best parts of you, they are still there!
I think the best way to get back to the best parts of you could be to start with some self-care. Self-care can look different for everyone.
I have been working hard to make time for myself. It’s harder than you think. The more time I find for quiet moments the more I find it almost necessary for my soul.
When I was first diagnosed I wanted noise, even if it was just music in my headphones helping me beep bop through another day. I didn’t want to be alone. I needed something or someone constantly moving about to keep my mind focused on anything other than thinking about the road before me.
I’ve been traveling through MBC for almost two years and I am still learning each day how to navigate what that looks like. Lately, it looks like I'm finding me.
Reigniting my passions
Playing with paint instead of cleaning out that hall closet is a new tactic, something has been trying out. Before my MBC diagnosis I would have had the energy for both but some days I have to just pick one or none.
Recently, I am leaning more toward my hobbies than organizing something that would normally drive me nuts. It’s a new practice but it’s important to me to decide to be present in the moment instead of worrying over how I folded the towels.
I want to spend my time after work relaxing with paint on my brush, looking at the beautiful colors. I don’t need to paint anything specific, I just need to play.
Find that part of me that is just existing in the back of my head looking for permission to be free. My brain says "You should be looking up the latest and greatest in treatments" but my heart says "Just breathe, just play."
Walking in the afternoon with the dog right after work is the most liberating moment. No more calls, texts, or emails for just a bit. I can practice the new Tai Chi movements I learned and stretch my legs. It’s great to get up from my desk and just get moving.
I feel connected with myself and the Earth when I am walking outside. The air is new, fresh and I can feel my muscles loosen. Any tense moment of the day begins to fade away. It has been so painful to walk for a while so I avoided too much exercise but I recently I treated myself to some new walking shoes.
It was one of the best choices I made for myself in a while, I just needed the tools to get started again.
Therapy for mental health
I have been struggling for a while but I finally signed up for therapy. I don’t know what it will be like and it is an adventure I am going to try out for my mental health.
I think it takes a lot of courage to admit if some things are too heavy and you need help to unpack them. I am excited to see where it takes me and if I can gain new skills to help me bounce back even if it’s just an inch, I’ll take it.
I know I am still here and fully capable but I have a hard time remembering I too am still processing all of the aspects that come along with an MBC diagnosis. This was a huge step for me to gain the courage to talk to someone else about what was going on.
I see this as a form of self-care to exercise my brain and let some of the thoughts that have been stirring just pour out of me. Maybe I’ll feel lighter and really feel the weight get lifted off of me. I know I have been carrying it around for a really long time and I am glad I can finally admit it’s okay if I can’t carry it alone.
Stealing back my joy
I am working on staying present in the moment, moving my body more, and giving my brain a mental break to make more space for the best parts of me. I continue to remind myself I am deserving of self-care. I am picking up the pieces and stealing back the joy in life. MBC can’t steal everything from me, I’ll find her. I’ve been missing her dearly.
How is it that we let our lives get so busy that we forget about our inner selves, the part that keeps telling us to keep going but with what fuel? With treatments, family, work, insurance, advocacy, etc. always on the forefront of daily practices it’s hard to just take those steps to define space for yourself but I think it might be part of the healing process.
I have found that self-care is a practice, it doesn’t come naturally to me. I have to make time for it. I am finding it extremely difficult some days, I would love to know how other members of the community practice self-care. What does that look like to you?
Advanced breast cancer is an isolating and lonely disease.