My Survivorship Plan

26 February 2015

My Survivorship Plan

In February, I developed the Think About Your Life Survivorship Plan but didn’t get a chance to use it before I ended up having surgery for an entirely non-cancer related health problem – pinched nerve.  My doctor said I will be healing for at least 60 days from my neck surgery.  As I developed my Survivorship Plan, I realized just how closely connected my pinched nerve is to my journey with cancer.

As part of the Survivorship Plan I looked at what is working/not working with the 5 Ways to Wellbeing in my life.


5 Ways to Wellbeing includes the following categories:

  • Connect
  • Be Active
  • Take Notice
  • Keep Learning
  • Give

Before surgery, I had stopped any kind of exercise – even walking around my neighborhood. My time was consumed with physical therapy and pain management. My version of pain management was avoiding anything that hurt – which sounds simple.  Actually, I didn’t do anything really but sit in a comfy chair with an ice pack and take a muscle relaxer.  Inactivity leads to weight gain, loss of fitness, stress…all which are on the no-no list if you are trying to avoid a recurrence of cancer. This causes worry, fear and self-destructive thinking.

Now that I’ve had surgery, I find myself exhausted after a full day of work and just avoid exercise. Of course I know mild exercise can increase energy – but I haven’t started.  It is time to do something, but what?

When I looked at all I wrote for working/not working under the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, I came up with this summary, “I need to heal from my neck injury to improve my quality of life and to prevent a cancer recurrence.”  My energies need to be focused around recovery from surgery by building time into my schedule for gentle exercise (be active), meditation (keep learning and take notice), and building my relationships (connect). Taking my time to heal and improve my health needs to be the focus.

I just had lunch with a friend who has lupus.  She runs 5K’s and the occasional marathon.  When I was marveling at her ability to do long distance running and complaining about my injuries and not being able to exercise, being exhausted etc…she just calmly said – “I tell people all the time that running is just putting one foot in front of the other.” For me that captured my problem. I overwhelmed myself. My expectation was after surgery I would bounce back from my neck injury and ultimately be in “perfect” shape.  This expectation is neither achievable nor healthy. I haven’t been in “perfect shape” ever. So, taking advice from my friend…I just need to put one foot in front of the other and find small successes with healing.

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