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These simple words come from Arthur Ashe, a world-class athlete, humanitarian and educator. He was as well-known for his commitment to service and social justice as he was for his groundbreaking tennis career. He used his battle with heart disease and transfusion-related AIDS to address inadequate healthcare delivery. His life was a model of quiet courage, dignity and humility, which continues to inspire others.
One of the lessons of Ashe’s life was the importance of living gracefully within the limits of chronic illness. Two open heart surgeries and serious illness changed his life radically, but he adapted to his new normal, letting go of what was and working within the possibilities of what could be.
If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or other illness, you know this kind of adjustment doesn’t come easily. The start of a new year can underscore this challenge, especially if you’re used to setting ambitious goals and making big plans.
As we turn the calendar, now’s the time to rethink your resolutions. Life with chronic illness is unpredictable, so start where you are.
Here are five resolutions guaranteed to improve your life and well-being in 2018.
Instead of big goals that can be hard to attain, set bite-size goals you can realistically accomplish. Stretching each morning for five minutes? Starting the day with a healthy breakfast? Showering and shaving? Big wins.
Resting is not a sign of weakness. Staying home is not antisocial. Putting yourself first is not selfish. When you choose what’s best for you, you’re practicing wisdom and wellness.
Don’t even compare yourself to other individuals with cancer. Everyone experiences illness differently, whether they’re in treatment or remission. Know what’s right for you and be comfortable in your choices.
People who comment on your lifestyle, your choices or your energy level often do so out of ignorance. Respond constructively by letting them know that this is your way forward. Or don’t respond at all. Silence gives people space to rethink what they’ve said and to try again.
Kindness may come naturally to you with others, but you also need to apply it to yourself. Be gentle with yourself and practice self-care. Take pride in the strength you show each day.
Here’s to a new year that’s just right for you.