It’s been a huge week for me – Thursday marked the 1st anniversary of my surgery, I had my one year check up with my oncologist the same day and then it was my birthday on Friday.
Last year I was titless and off my face on painkillers for my birthday – this year I was just titless (well maybe just a little off my face).
My family all flew in to join in the celebration with my friends. My gorgeous daughter organised an amazing party for me. I even managed to give up control and allowed her to organise the whole thing – I simply turned up.
But I didn’t want it to be just about my cancer experience as I said in my speech – it is just one of the many experiences that have contributed to who I am (some would say crazy and just a little neurotic).
This birthday did have an added dimension that previous ones haven’t – think it is harder for my family and friends to separate that then it is for me.
Got me thinking that each birthday will now be a celebration of a year well lived (but not an “amazing I climbed Everest cos I survived cancer” well lived kind of year) as well as a recognition that not only have I just ticked off one more year of my allotted time but that I have also made it through another year that takes me one step further away from that which could have shortened my allotted time.
No idea if that makes any sense?
Guess the only thing that I can be certain of is that at every birthday from now on I will still be titless.
Anybody else view their birthdays differently post cancer?
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The Young Adult workshop - affectionately known as the “Sh!t Cancer Dumps” workshop held over two weekends Saturday 29th June and Saturday July 13th has been a fantastic opportunity for young adults to connect with each other face to face, share experiences and learn some great tips and techniques to help deal with the challenges that finishing treatment presents.
We were introduced to the concept of Thought Attacks™ - which is what happens when your mind focusses on your negative thoughts and the aspects of your situation.
We also learnt how to use the Red Card Technique to deal with this.
Some of the Key Learnings were;
Stress is created from your thoughts about the situation
Transform your Thought Attacks™ by finding a new interpretation of the situation
Stress cannot exist in the present moment
Stress is created from an internal rather than an external source
Stress is a feeling residing in a specific place in our body
Changing our negative beliefs about our challenges helps us to become resilient
There is a part of us untouched by illness and suffering
Red Card Technique, Opportunities Card, Present Moment Bell and the Resilience Stone all went into the little black bag of strategies to take away and use.
I know I will be looking at my resilience stone.
Which one of these do you think you will start using this weekend?
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Welcome and I am glad you have found us. I am one of the Cancer Survivorship team. The thoughts and feelings you are having are all really normal and lots of survivors experience them - it doesn't make you paranoid.
It can be especially hard when friends and family think you should just get over it and get on with it. That isn’t so easy.
We have just run the first of a 2 session workshop in Sydney on “sh!t cancer dumps on you” developed for young adults aged 18-45 who have finished their treatment. We are hoping to have some discussion around the stuff that was discussed at the workshop here on Cancer Connections.
You can find some more information about some of the things you are dealing with here http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/get-support/when-treatment-finishes/
Hang in there and go easy on yourself
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Thanks for your welcome. I have been flat out working on the upcoming Young Adults Workshop.
While this is Sydney based, the young adults page here is a way to connect with others.
If we all keep talking about it and raise awareness of the issues then hopefully we can increase the profile of young adults who have fnished their treatment and we can take it nationally.
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Survivorship can present us with lots of challenges, and the end of treatment is not always a time for champagne and celebrations.
Trust me ….. I know.
I’m Pauline, a (very slightly) neurotic mother of 2 young adults with a belly and nose ring, who has been known to say and do some mildly outrageous things.
Oh, and I am also one of Cancer Council’s Survivorship Unit Team.
My special interest is working with Young Adults aged 18-45 (gotta love the fact that 45 is still considered a young adult!)
I have a background in social work and adult education and training, as well as being a qualified life coach. Before I started in this role, I worked as a Community Coordinator for the Northern Sydney Region of Cancer Council NSW.
Prior to joining Cancer Council I worked at CanTeen - www.canteen.org.au/ - the organisation for young people (12-24) living with cancer (not the school tuck shop – although I have done my time there as well!).
While working there I co-produced a video for parents of young people living with cancer and also wrote a series of books called ‘Now What?’ for young people living with cancer and bereaved young people.
You can check them out here:
I’m very excited about working with the Young Adult Support Project and know that for many of you finding support and services that actually meet your needs is not always easy (guess that’s cos there aren’t many around)
We aim to change that. At the moment we are NSW-based but are looking towards a national focus in the future.
If you are Sydney-based you might be interested in attending our upcoming Young Adult Workshop that will give you tips and ideas to help you deal with the sh!t that cancer dumped on you.
You can read more about the Workshop, me and our work in a great article posted on The Mamamia blog: www.mamamia.com.au/mamamia-cares/story-about-cancer-the-everyday-survivors/
I look forward to reading about your experiences, things of interest to you and your ideas or suggestions about how to improve life as a Young Adult survivor.
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.