It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer that I had this unique lens on life that not a lot of folks have the pleasure of seeing until way further down the road. I think that for a long time, I was stuck in the rhythm of life, and not really enjoying it. I also tried to put myself into a box that I didn’t fit into, and it wasn’t until recently that I realized this.
I really don’t know if I would have come to terms with it if it hadn’t been for the very close relationship I have with my own mortality.
Recently, I’ve felt like the most righteous form of self care comes in the form of taking my body back (when I can), and self expression. After my first diagnosis, about 7 years ago, I took back my body autonomy by getting tattoos. I worked my ass off so that I could get a lot of them, whenever I wanted to. It was so freeing to be able to decorate my body the way I wanted to, and it still is! It’s a pretty unconventional way to do self care, but I really believe in it.
Now, I blend getting tattoos as self expression with self expression of my style, and my look. I opt for comfort instead of fashion, and I don’t stuff my feet into shoes that hurt after a couple of hours anymore. I like to focus on the act of caring for my body in a way that helps it exist comfortably instead of the focus of trying to stay on top of the trends.
My whole life revolved around that for a decade, so that one is tough to dismantle. I worked in the beauty industry for so long, that staying on top of the trends was something that was apart of my life. It’s something that kind of stays with me, but in recent months I have tried pretty hard to break free of that way of thinking.
Travel for self-care
Another thing that I feel very strongly as a form of self care is travel. I think that the idea of “vacation” and working hard for your time off to get back to work is something that needs to be rethought in society. Life is meant to be lived, and it shouldn’t have to be saved for the golden years of life, whenever those may be. It should happen now, and it should happen often. I view travel as taking time for myself, and taking time to make memories with my wife and our daughter.
Self care while I am metastatic feels bigger than it did before. It feels so much more important now than ever, because it helps me bring the best me I can into the clinic. It also helps me bring the best me I can into my every day life, and it shines through in my relationships with my loved ones. I like to discuss the bigger forms of self care like tattoos and travel, because they are so near and dear to me, and it’s something that not a lot of people consider when talking about taking your life back, or your autonomy back.
Smaller forms of self-care
Smaller forms of self care can easily be found in tending to my body lovingly in a way like a bath, a book, a face mask, or a nap in the middle of the day. It can be something like saying no to plans because my body is saying it is time for rest, or planning a road trip so my daughter can see more of the world. It can be a dinner with dear friends, or a stroll through a park during sunset.
Caring for yourself in the way of self care is one of the most important things you can do. It can help you be the best version of yourself, and I think that is something that is really important when it comes to thriving. It really goes past the point of survival, and it doesn’t have to take up your whole day. As long as it fills your cup in some way, I think that that is a success.
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