“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.” Princess Leia, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Nearing the end of my treatments in 2017, I had this grand idea that life post-cancer would be a piece of cake. I thought that I would miraculously feel better than I had ever felt: more energy, strength, motivation… I thought that my life would keeping moving upwards and beyond what I had endured. And I did feel better! As the summer of 2018 rolled around, my energy was high and I felt like I could get back to the busy schedule that I was used to. That included work, teaching, performing, blogging, podcasting… But as the summer progressed and my activities increased, my energy started to wane again. I started eating more and gaining weight, feeling fatigued and less motivated, and more forgetful.
I don’t like to ask for help often. Generally, I will either try to figure things out first or just let things be the way they are because I get frustrated and don’t want to deal with it. But as my fatigue got worse and my weight continued to increase, I knew I had to do something. I had to face the reality that I am not going to be able to heal without some help.
Over the last couple of months, I have taken a number of steps to help myself feel better. I’m still working and still struggling and I don’t know when I will physically and mentally get to where I want but I know I have to continue trying. So, if you are in a similar position as myself, here are some things that have helped me and hopefully can help you too!
- Increase your physical activity: This actually has been the easiest for me, which is something I never thought I would say! There are a couple gyms in the area that are close to where I live, but I decided to join Planet Fitness when it opened a year ago. I had been doing well in early 2018 but as my schedule increased over the summer, that’s when I got very lax. Once November came around, I was able to put myself on a consistent schedule again. I’ve now increased my gym time to 5 to 6 days a week for 30 to 60 minutes. I swap between cardio and weights or I do a bit of both. It has helped increase my mood. And even though I haven’t quite built my energy back to where I want it, it is being helped by working out.
- See a chiropractor: I have never been to a chiropractor before so I was very nervous at first, but it turns out that it is not as scary as I thought! My chiropractor uses an activator and it has helped tremendously! I feel less tense in my back, shoulders, and neck, which I have always had issues with, even before treatment. Overall, my body feels better.
- See your oncologist/doctor: I still go for 6 month check-ups but I wasn’t scheduled to see my oncologist until February. Since I was feeling worried, I set up an earlier appointment two weeks ago. One thing my doctors have always pressed is that if I feel off, I should call. I’m glad I did because the anxiety I was feeling about being sick again went away. All my blood work came back fine, which included a Thyroid test. I do take Tamoxifen and that can cause some of the side effects I am feeling.
- See a nutritionist: The same week I saw my doctor, I went to see a nutritionist. The best part is that she works with my doctor and was able to see my medical history as well as my recent blood work. I was able to sit down with her and express all of the issues I was dealing with, especially with my appetite and fatigue. She helped me make some easy goals to start out with, like continuing my workout routine as well as drinking more water and eating at least one fruit a day, which I don’t always do. She also said I should start taking a multi-vitamin along with the Biotin that I have been taking. We will meet again in a week to draw up a long term plan.
- Know your limits and rest: I don’t always do a self-assessment of how much certain activities affect me and how much rest I am needing. But I realize how important it is to know what my limits are and know how to plan my activities better. Or I just need to know when to say “No,” which is often very hard to do! I often am so tired during the day that I can’t sleep at night, so I need to figure out the right recipe in my daily routine that will help me get to bed at a reasonable time.
One more thing, I think it was fortuitous that earlier this month StarWars.com announced the “Fuel Your Force” campaign.
“Star Wars Fuel Your Force is a commitment to finding your “inner Force” through an active and healthy lifestyle, taking inspiration from the strong stories and characters from the Star Wars galaxy to discover your best self and unlock your full potential.”
I see this as another great opportunity to stay motivated in my quest to feel “normal” again, or whatever my new normal should be.
Check it out here: Fuel Your Force
Up next: Episode 16: The Nutritionist and Me