Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Sept. 13, 2017 A Balanced Life - advocacy, survivorship, new normal

As we celebrate our 4th Anniversary, we want to thank everyone who has participated in or followed our chats and all who have supported us by using the #gyncsm hashtag to share information of value to our community. 

This Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month our topic was finding a Balanced Life after a cancer-related diagnosis. We focused on survivorship, a new normal and advocacy.

We were joined by health care providers, survivors and caregivers to answer these questions:

T1: During treatment, what adjustments did you make (nutrition/exercise/work) to help you stay balanced physically and emotionally?
  • for emotional support I reached out to @cancerHopeNet
  • The most important thing to do during Rx is practice self care - whatever that means for you - exercise, food, time
  • I think it is important to remember to go easy on yourself. We can be our own worst critics. Remind self it is ok to falter.
  • My experiences as a doc are that most patients attend to the treatment needs and have little energy to do anything further
  • I was a hard core exerciser before. I had to learn to be easier on myself. I did a lot of beginner/gentle yoga. It helped
T2: When you finished first line treatment, how did you feel? What things did you go back to doing and what stayed changed?
  • People expect you to "be over it" and move on as if nothing happened. 
  • I felt like a rudderless ship. Had no control of my life for so long, then see you in a month
  • still do same stuff;work,volunteer, make lunch and dinner, son's sports, friends but I don't feel the same. Cancer is always there
  • People expect you to "be over it" and move on as if nothing happened.
T3a: What does the term “new normal” mean to you?
  • The new normal is the development of new habits patterns and thoughts as a result of the cancer journey
  • I think there's so much pressure on patients to have cancer change them in some profound way and when it doesn't they're lost
  • I think that "new normal" is an interesting phrase. For some it is helpful, and for others, it draws negative feelings.
  • the term new normal I guess acknowledges that there has been a turning point. An anchor in your own timeline.
  • My new normal as a caregiver is a recognition of the fragility of life and how a diagnosis can change absolutely everything
T3b: What does your own new normal currently look like? Where are you in your search for balance?
  • I often encourage clients to find whatever version of "new normal" helps them acknowledge that cancer creates permanent change
  • I'm in denial with a touch of overwhelmed in making preventative treatment decisions. So still in the thick of it and unclear
  • And even if clients can return to work, exercise, other activities, there is always the knowledge of vulnerability.
  • And mentally people have completely changed. The old normal is no longer applicable .Cancer is a period of accelerated change
T4: How soon after your diagnosis did you start volunteering and/or sharing your story? What are you involved in for awareness month?
  • I started sharing my family's cancer story when we started up #gyncsm. So, about 4 years ago
  • I took part in @livestrong summit 6 mo after chemo.Learned & was motivated to advocate for myself and others 
  • This awareness month seems less active than last year... I've been doing a tweet a day from me and another from @gyncsm
T5: Do you ever feel the need to take a break from all things cancer? What do you do and where do you turn when you reach that point?
  • I believe breaks are critical. We need time to recharge, to do what we love, to remember our dx is not our identity.
  • As a doctor, I get here often - need to take breaks - coach baseball/softball, exercise, take a weekend off from everything
  • Absolutely need to step back,For me esp after #GCAM - so much going on ( walks, events) and remembering those lives lost
  • I would love to. But I can't. I just can't. Survivorship leaks from every pore.
  • It is tough to stay in a constant advocacy mode. Esp. when a string of advocates pass away. Need time to recharge 
  • So appreciative of long-term survivors who stay active in patient communities IRL and online. Also understand when they go in/out.

You may find a complete transcript here, analytics here and resources below.

You can continue tonight's discussion, A Balance Life, on Smart Patients at 

We hope you will join us next month on Wednesday October 11, 2017 at 9pm for our chat - #Clinical Trials - How have they changed?.

See you then.
#gyncsm co-moderator

"Survivorship is Not a Phase"  #newnormal

New Normal Adjustment after Cancer

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

@afreshchapter started a patient advocate retreat called Refresh

via @TealDivaNC - Vulnerable

via #MedX: 5 things I tell people who think they can't be advocates

A bit of Advocate in all of us

What happens next #ovca

Ovarian Cancer Survivors’ Experiences of Self-Advocacy: A Focus Group Study @TLHagan

1 comment: