1) Tune Out the Negative.
When I was ill, I stopped watching, reading the newspapers, researching about the bleak statistics of cancer and/or surrounding myself with anyone who doubted I would not survive. Anything negative was cut out of my life.
2) Tune Up the Positive.
I began reading books that inspired me, I listened to music that brought me a sense of peace or joy and I surrounded myself with only friends and family that brought me joy, laughter and support.
3) Acknowledge and Release Your Emotions.
Depending on the day, you will experience an array of emotions. To me, cancer is analogous to a wave. There are many ups and downs. It is very important to release your emotions and thoughts. Put on music and cry, scream or dance. Journal, draw, paint let your thoughts, fears, hopes and daily experiences out on paper.
4) Communicate What You Need.
This is crucial. It is very hard for both patient and caregiver/loved ones to know at times what to do or how to help. It can make everyone feel helpless. If you are able to jot down a few “I need” and “To Do’s”. This helps everyone to be on the same page and it is a “win a win” during a tumultuous time.
This is hard. Though really important throughout your own unique cancer battle and throughout the process of healing. I have countless imperfections and faults, add that to having less than ½ of a tongue left and scares that I now wear with absolute pride. Life moves on and my perspective now is, I earned each scare and I am a better human, wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend because of it.
6) Reach Out for Additional Support.
HNC has one of the highest rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. I urge anyone needing extra support and guidance to seek it. It thoroughly helped me navigate my cancer journey. You are not alone and there are great resources for help. Please do not give up and reach out.
7) Change of Scenery.
Sometimes by simply getting out of bed and sitting in another room by a window to soak up the sun or if your physically able have a friend or caregiver take you for a drive. Put on the music in the car and depending on the weather roll down the windows and enjoy some fresh air and a new view.
8) Laugh. Laughter is key!
I physically could not make the sound for months though I was laughing inside and smiling on the outside. Watch a silly show, movie, or comedian! It is vital!!!
9) Mark Down Milestones.
Cancer is a scary roller coaster ride. To shift focus on all the horrible things that happen daily, make a list of small strides, which then become larger strides and then firsts new normal. This keeps hope afloat and anyone battling cancer needs as much hope as possible. I believe this because I lived it, researched it and now truly believe in the Power of Hope. Mind over body.
10) Create a Hope Journal.
Write down your hopes for the future. In addition, cut out and paste images, sayings, photos, anything that you want in your new cancer free life. This can help shift your focus to brighter days ahead.
Alyssa’s mission is to provide hope and support to head and neck cancer survivors around the world. In 2019, she founded The HNC Fund (Head Neck Cancer Fund). The HNC Fund facilitates comprehensive financial support for the well-being of one Head and Neck Cancer patient a year. In 2020, Doctor Peter Cordeior, nominated Alyssa for the Patient of Courage Award by The American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Alyssa is happily married and a mom of two phenomenal children.