Take a Cancer Walk

COVID-19. As if you needed something else to worry about in addition to cancer. Especially if you’re currently in chemotherapy.

I have friends in chemo now that I wish I could visit and help them with their journey to life-after-cancer. But chemo is a huge red-flag for contact with anyone or anything that might carry the virus. Heck - any virus or infection for that matter. Chemo basically wipes out your ability to fight any invader - including the cancer.

Scanxiety even years after the all-clear

But even after you’ve been given the all-clear, cancer weighs heavy on your mind. It still does on me 7 years later. I have a CT scan coming up, and cancer thoughts now take up a bit more of my mental capacity than it did a few months ago. I’d say I normally have about 3% of my daily thinking assigned to my cancer (or lack of and/or worry about my potential to have again in the future.) But around CT time it bounces up to about 20%. I wrote about “scanxiety” on my own blog a while back.

Staying at home gave me more time to think about cancer

But I also noticed something about 3 weeks into the WFH (work from home) and SAH (stay at home) directives to help flatten the curve. I noticed I was thinking about cancer a bit more than ususal. I was thinking about how I’m not moving as much and how I was using mealtimes as my only daily milestones. Then that thinking morphed into overall health and cancer thinking. In other words, not having enough to occupy my mind energized my cancer thinking to fill in the void left by being almost devoid of outside experiences.

I’ve been in my own head way too much lately.

And trust me… being alone in MY head for too long will wear on anyone!

Time for a walk

It is so easy to let cancer own your brain. When I was first diagnosed with cancer, even before chemo started, all I could think of was “odds of dying doing ‘x’”. Every time I got in my car I’d think, “I’m 12% likely to be in an accident (or whatever the stat was.)” Cancer was the wrapper around every thought I had. Will this food hurt or help me with my cancer? Is this cleaning solution going to make my cancer grow faster? Will McDonald's Big Macs cause my chemo to not work as well (thankfully, they didn’t). And that was just the little thoughts.

The bigger thoughts occupying my mind

The big ones like wills, and medical directives, where all my internet passwords were and making sure I clear my browser history (kidding of course - I have that set to clear every time I log off.)

But seriously, every thought was connected to cancer in some form or shape. And that drives you crazy. It’s exhausting! And with COVID-19 WFT/SAH rules, the same thing can happen. Without experiences and other inputs, I think you’re more likely to focus on negatives - the big C for sure.

My recommendation: Take a cancer walk.

Get outside if you can. Walk around. Get some sunshine. Hear some birds. Watch a caterpillar cross the sidewalk (note: it will take a while.) In other words, fill your empty mind with some life stuff. Some nature stuff… some experiences.

If you can’t take a physical cancer walk, take a virtual one. Read some fiction - wild and weird fiction. Or learn something new like crocheting or watercolor painting. It really doesn’t matter.

Get out of your brain. Get outside your cancer. Keep your brain full so your cancer can’t grow in there like it did/does in your body.

Think of it as chemo for your brain. The more things you put in your brain - the less room cancer has in your body.

Go take a cancer walk.

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