By Dani Binnington
The last day of my treatment for breast cancer marked the beginning of a long journey of recovery. I rode a long road towards a healthier and happier mind and soul.
Here’s what I found out.
Life is uncertain and that is the only certainty we’ve got. I thought I could control most aspects of my life but I now know that I can’t control many things. Many things ‘happen to us’ which we have no choice over, but I also know that I always have a choice over how I react and what I say.
Try things, go for it, take risks. Studies show us that people at their deathbeds mainly regret all the things they have not done. So go and do what you are yearning to do. Not every experience needs to be brilliant. A holiday gone pear shaped will be remembered more vividly than a safe week in a Spanish resort.
Don’t postpone. There is seldom the perfect timing for anything. Starting a family, a new business or a change in career. You’ll always find reasons to do it ‘later’. Stop the later or tomorrow way of thinking and start making plans today. Saying sorry doesn’t need to wait either. Because we know today is all we’ve got.
Be kind, helpful and compassionate. And practice it as you will become better at it. Smile at strangers, ask them how they are, hold open doors and show interest in other people’s lives. The more you do it the better you will become at it and the happier it makes you feel.
In a capitalist society, where it seems that money makes the world go around, start doing things for free. Volunteer for a charity or just offer your services for a few hours a month to an organisation that will really benefit from your expertise. I received so much help and support throughout my treatment for breast cancer that initially I just wanted to give back. Today I know it is scientifically proven that volunteering makes you a much happier person.
It’s ok to feel sad, upset, angry or scared. For so long I wanted to push these feelings aside on the search for the ultimate happiness. But all feelings are normal and we must acknowledge the seemingly negative ones as much as the positive ones. Learning to accept and then deal with all emotions seems a big challenge, but it will offer you a much more realistic way of living.
Become active. Take control. Take charge of your own journey, illness, career, whatever it is. Do your own research, learn about your challenge, ask the right people the right questions, think outside the box and come up with your very own action plan. Whether it’s your health or career that needs steering, remember you’re the captain.
Ask for help and work out which help is the most appropriate to you. Counselling, hypnotherapy, CBT or a new GP. I never believed that many things would ever work for me, but if you are open enough you might just surprise yourself. Just as I did.
Speak up. Be honest. Cut the crap. This was a tough lesson for me to learn. I was so desperately trying to keep it all together, to show the world that I am thriving through my cancer treatment. But it’s pointless and raises the bar unrealistically high for anyone going through a similar situation. It’s ok to say that life is rubbish at times or incredibly sad or challenging. Not only does it feel good it also opens up lots of conversation that can lead to really helpful things.
Love yourself unconditionally. We’re often much kinder and forgiving with our best friends than with ourselves. Stop that now! Embrace all of you. With all your quirky aspects. The grumpy you is as precious as the happy you. The healthy you as lovable as the unwell you. Remember, you don’t need to be anything else or look or leave differently. You’re just perfect the way you are! Sending my love to all of you.
Dani Binnington is a cook, yoga teacher and wellbeing expert dedicated to providing practical steps for physical and mental wellbeing for the whole family. Visit www.healthywholeme.com for more recipes, classes, events and inspiration.
Tagged in Cancer