- When cancer hits, our mental health is not the first thing we think about. Instead, we focus on our body and the decisions, treatments and healing necessary to move it through the ordeal. Only later, when the smoke clears, does our mental health move to the forefront.For the first six and a half months of my cancer ordeal, the time from my mammogram to mastectomy, the only attention my mental health got was access to
- . After my surgery, the calvary rode in in the form of oncology therapists. We met once a week for a year and it was exhausting, grueling and often deeply upsetting, but I kept going back.
What did I learn? I learned the value of showing up and “doing the work.” I learned to talk, cry, rant, question, consider, listen and cry some more. I learned to value my mental health and not be ashamed to ask for help dealing with depression, anger and stress.
I also came to see the brave survivor in me – the woman who has faced many of life’s losses and upheavals – only one of which is cancer. I learned to cherish that survivor and celebrate her accomplishments. I learned to love her spirit. I learned, as Marie Ennis O’Connor writes in her recent blog post, to come out from behind “The Mask.”
From that foundation – for which I will be forever grateful to my therapists – I’ve gone on to work toward creating an inspired survivorship. I’ve found that the mind/body/spirit balance turns up the volume on life. That’s why I envision WhereWeGoNow expanding beyond cancer survivorship and providing an inspirational community to survivors of all traumas. What we all have in common is that we are all survivors of something.
Healing our mental health is every bit as important as healing physically. If cancer has taught me anything, it’s taught me the value of prioritizing our mental health to create an inspired survivorship.