Surviving or Thriving with Prostate Cancer, it’s your choice!
To Survive or Thrive, it’s my choice! My view from the prism of prostate cancer.
It is interesting to note the different outcomes which occur when using and believing these words and the corresponding belief systems underlying them. I responded to another post recently with a similar theme and my own experience with prostate cancer has me thinking about this again. Some background! In past years I experienced skin cancer and recovered from it, leading a healthy, happy and enjoyable life ever since. Six years ago I had a total thyroidectomy because of thyroid cancer and have led a healthy, happy and enjoyable life ever since. I am a thriver and I believe that this road is open to all of us if we allow ourselves to take it. In my counselling work, I come across people who have taken another path, they see themselves as victims who have managed to survive and lead their lives accordingly. Whilst not true for everyone, it seems that many of those who take this path do so with fear, anger, anxiety and a grim determination and watchfulness which gets in the way of them leading a full and joyous life. These are the survivors, hanging on grimly to their lives and not experiencing all that life has to offer. I don’t judge this, but I do recognise that it comes from a relief that they somehow survived, which can then become a self limiting picture of themselves. Survivors often become watchful and even hyper vigilant to potential threat. This isn’t an issue if they can still live joyous need satisfying lives, but when their picture of themselves as survivors who are potentially still under threat becomes too strong, it can become a limiting belief and they often spiral into depressing or anxiousing, or simply unhappiness as they restrict their connection with those around them and all that life has to offer. The alternative is to be a thriver. What I see in common to various degrees amongst thrivers, is an early acceptance that whatever has happened to them is past and they have no control over it. Their focus instead is on what they can control now, their own behaviour and connecting with the people and things which can help them meet their needs into the future. Thrivers look to what they can do, rather than what they can’t. They focus on meeting their needs in connecting ways rather than worrying about what might happen and not engaging in needs satisfying behaviour. If you ask them they will usually acknowledge that they would rather not have had the illness, accident or adverse event happen to them, but given it did, they are determined to live the best life they can from now on. Thrivers do much better for many reasons. There is less anxiety and fewer down times, and even when they experience them, they don’t last long, because the thriver moves quickly to shift their thinking and action, to choose and engage in behaviours which better meet their needs. When we engage in need satisfying behaviour, we impact our immune system in a positive way and experience better healing and health outcomes. Emotionally our outlook is brighter and more open to possibility and connection. When people ask me how I am, I answer fantastic…. and that is still my answer now. No I am not putting on a brave face, I know that there are risks, dangers and challenges ahead. I also know I will have short periods of time when I feel less than great, but I choose not to get lost in those miserable thoughts and feelings. It is my choice to see life as a fun and enjoyable journey with lots of possibilities and to focus on what I have and what I can do rather than what I can’t. Fear and misery have no place and no space here. So yes I am feeling fantastic and all of my thoughts are going into how I can take charge of my recovery after my total prostatectomy surgery on Monday. In the coming days, weeks, months and years, how fantastic I feel will be totally up to me! Cheers Jeff