Gratitude

Gratitude

What are you grateful for today? November is a time to reflect more closely on the year (as December just gets crazy) and be thankful for what we have. Yes, these are things we should be doing every day but November is a great time to get started if you haven’t been practicing gratitude regularly.

Gratitude is appreciating what you have and noticing the good (even small things!) in your life – with or without a cancer diagnosis. Gratitude can help ground you and get in touch with what you are feeling at that moment. That old cliché “stop and smell the roses or the fall leaves or the snow” can have some real physical and mental benefits for your well-being.

People tend to be happier, have more positive emotions and greater self-esteem when practicing gratitude. Physically, it can reduce depression symptoms, enhance your sleep, and increase your exercise which leads to other health benefits.

While it can be difficult to be thankful for anything when you or someone you care about is dealing with cancer, receiving care from a compassion and dedicated healthcare team is definitely something to be grateful for. Gratitude can actually increase your resilience, help you find the joy along the way, and even ease the fear of recurrence.

There are many ways to practice gratitude so don’t think about it being another daunting task on your to do list, it can be as simple or complex as you like – make it work for you! As you start to think about what you are grateful for you can instantly feel a change in your attitude and the more you do it the more you will experience the benefits. It’s not difficult and below are some simple ways to get you started today.

  • Think: At some point in the day take a moment and identify 1-3 things you are grateful for, or try a guided meditation to help focus on the present. (I love my job, but I also love my family and need to put them first.)
  • Write: Start a journal and be specific (I’m thankful my loved one could take time from work to go with me to my appointment) or put slips of paper in a jar throughout the day, download a calendar and jot them down. Send a note to someone telling them why you are grateful for them.
  • Visual: Take photos of things you are grateful for or cut pictures out of a magazine. (The flowers/balloons in the infusion room brought a smile to everyone’s face.)

However you decide to practice gratitude, make it yours and practice it regularly so it becomes second nature to you and then reap the emotional, social, health, and personal benefits. As you begin treatment, finish treatment, head to an appointment, support a friend or loved one remember to find something to be grateful for despite the challenging feelings you may have at that moment and hopefully that will brighten your day (or at least that moment) a little.We are grateful for all those who believe in the Bag It bag and provide it to patients, friends, loved ones, or themselves and hope that you feel supported and empowered.

Here are some additional resources to help you get started today!

Ted Talks Practice Gratitude Gratefulness

Physical Activity Can Make a Difference

We are told over and over again about the benefits of physical activity, but many of us find lots of excuses not to do it, or not to do it consistently anyhow. Kudos to the many rockstars that embrace it and engage in some sort of activity on a consistent basis – please motivate us! Physical activity impacts many aspects of our lives and can help improve your mood, your sense of well-being and improve endurance while helping with depression and fatigue. Studies suggest that physical activity may help to prevent/reduce the risk of a secondary cancer later in life and/or lower the risks of other cancers. So, go enjoy the cooler temps of fall and get moving. (If you are in Tucson join Bag It for our annual Take a Hike at Catalina State Park on October 27th) Physical activity includes walking, swimming, cycling, gardening and other activities that keep you from sitting or remaining sedentary for long periods of time – even dancing! It is always important to consult with your healthcare team, especially if making major changes to your activity or if you are in or recently completed (cancer) treatment. This doesn’t mean you can’t move and research shows that physical activity during and after treatment can actually help. Talk with your doctor and other healthcare team members about your physical activity. They can provide guidance and help you find exercise resources.

How will physical activity improve my health?

What type of activity should I do? How often and for how long?

Is it safe to exercise during cancer treatment?  

Should I avoid certain exercises?

What resources are available to me?

Making the Most of Appointments

Making the Most of Appointments

None of us have as much time as we’d like when we see the oncologist, primary care physician, or any member of our healthcare team. Maximize those precious few minutes and make the most of your visits with these hacks:

Before you go: 

    • Prepare for the appointment at least a few days in advance. Complete any online research you want to do (Our Resource Center has reliable cancer websites).
    • Use My Appointment Summary Log (found in My Companion Guidebook)
    •  to organize what you need to bring and discuss, where and when you are going.
    • Write down your questions (use the small journal or sheets provided). 
    • Leave room to write down the answers you are given.
    • Prioritize your top 3 questions to ask the doctor. (Other members of the healthcare team can answer or obtain answers for the other questions for you).

” I still use the bag…it is a Godsend, I am always using it. It has taught me to always take notes, whenever I have a question for ANY doctor I write the question and answer down. I use it as a reference for dates and other information regarding any of my medical history.”

At the visit: 

  • Bring someone with you. Let them know how they can help you: extra set of ears, take notes, give info you may have forgotten.
  • Good communication with your healthcare team is key! Click here for tips
  • Consider recording the visit (ask permission first) to replay it at a later time.
  • Bring your Bag It My Companion Guidebook or appropriate pieces within to refer to questions, forms and logs you prepared. Write down the answers and other info given to you so you don’t have to try to remember it.
  • Ask for copies of your reports, labs, information from the visit. Add them to your notebook.

Click below for questions to ask your healthcare team from Paths to Survivorship booklet.

Breathe in deep…breathe out peace

Breathe in deep…breathe out peace

This mantra was one of many gifts received during my stay at the Miraval Arizona resort.

I sponsored a Bag it bag to help an individual impacted by cancer feel informed, empowered, and supported throughout their treatment journey. I never imagined this donation would also result in my own wellness journey and lasting benefits.

I was fortunate to be the winner of Bag It’s 2018 drawing and booked my stay at Miraval Arizona in December, looking forward to a relaxing weekend to reflect on the year. The experience at Miraval was so much more that I expected, and the people and activities left a positive impact that I appreciate daily.

  • Relaxation: Exploring the beauty of the resort property and visits to the labyrinth provided the ideal mental space to decompress.
  • Expansion: Encouraged to step out of my comfort zone, I participated in my first Zumba class which was the most fun, accepting, and laughter-filled fitness experience I’ve ever had.
  • Reflection: Through meditation activities, I explored emotions and strengths, vowing to reprioritize
    neglected passions.
  • Connection: I enjoyed truly meaningful conversations with staff and guests, reinvigorated by the kindness and compassion shared in these interactions.

We have all been impacted by cancer. Some have experienced it personally, others through a family member or friend, or a hero or celebrity we admire. Last month I sent a Bag It bag to a colleague recently diagnosed with cancer. While she thanked me, she indicated she had received information from her doctors. A few days later, she reached out to share how comprehensive the Bag It resources are, expressing how they have been a helpful addition to the information she previously received. The resources developed by Bag It are invaluable. I appreciate Miraval Arizona’s support of Bag It’s important work to inform, empower, and support individuals impacted by cancer.

Sponsor a Bag It Bag

Is there a doctor (Google) in the house?

Is there a doctor (Google) in the house?

Is there a doctor (Google) in the house?

Most of us immediately want to search online when facing a cancer diagnosis. The internet can be a good source of reliable and helpful information. At the same time, unfortunately, fake medical news and misinformation spreads further than the truth – and can lead to serious consequences.

Best Practices for Internet Research:

  • First ask your health care team for trusted websites they recommend for you.
  • Visit Bag It’s resource center to find over 150 resources on all cancer topics.
  • Websites from these organizations are generally reliable:
    • Government agencies (web address ends .gov)
    • Major cancer centers (web address often ends .org)
    • Medical schools and universities (web address ends .edu)
    • Large nonprofit organizations (web address ends .org)
  • Look for easy-to-read information written by medical professionals.
  • Check more than one source for the same information to verify that the results are the same.

Things to consider when evaluating a website:

  • Be critical – is the content objective and free of opinion?
  • Who sponsors the site and its content? Who wrote the content and what are their credentials? Who approved it? Reading the “About Us” and “Who We Are” pages can be insightful.
  • What is the source of the information presented? Particularly if scientific in nature, was the content written within the last three years and is it supported by the scientific literature?
  • Be aware that information on sponsored websites or .com websites may be biased or have a conflict of interest, though the information could still be reliable (such as a drug company’s site)
  • Think carefully before sharing personal/health information in online communities. Does the community safeguard your privacy? Refer to the privacy policy, if any.

Remember that the internet is not a substitute for professional medical care and advice. Discuss any information you find with your health care team to help you determine if it is right for you.