Have you ever considered what it feels like to be alive?
So often after breast cancer treatment, the biggest struggle is to feel normal again.
But what does that really mean?
Is normal happy, excited, connected?
Is it simply the ability to do things the same as you did before breast cancer?
In this episode, I’ll share some insights on shifting your mindset from feeling normal to feeling alive.
Referred to in this Episode:
NEW Resources Page
Read Full Transcript Below:
This is Laura Lummer, the breast cancer recovery coach. I'm a healthy lifestyle coach, a clinical Ayurveda specialist, a personal trainer, and I'm also a breast cancer survivor. In this podcast, we talk about healthy thinking and mindfulness practices, eating well, moving your body for health and longevity. And we'll also hear from other breast cancer survivors who have re-engaged with life and have incredible stories to share. This podcast is your go-to resource for getting back to life after breast cancer.
Hello, hello, welcome to The Breast cancer recovery Coach Podcast. I am so happy that you found your way here.
My name is Laura Lummer. I am your host, and I am thrilled to be here with you.
It's always a good day, when I get to record a podcast and just share this message my message with my tribe who's out there every day trying to figure out this breast cancer thing, this life thing, and how they come together and we can still find joy.
And I hope that today's show gives you a little bit of insight into that and helps somebody who may need to hear it.
Before we jump into this, I want to make an exciting announcement that you can now go to my website, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com and you will find a brand new page there. It is the resources page. And this page currently has all the free downloads that I have available.
You can find it there...
my video series, the four pillars of breast cancer recovery
You can find...
The book that I co-authored with the founder of the cancer exercise Training Institute, Andrea Leonard, and that is the book on lymphedema.
And you'll also find some meditations I've done.
So I just, I figured I had all of these little free pieces of information and they were on different podcasts and they were floating around, I wanted to bring them all together for you. And keep checking back at that page because I will be adding more resources to that page. As I hear more requests all the time from especially women in the breast cancer recovery group, looking for different things to support them. And I want to be able to respond to those questions and those requests for information with some of the best resources that I can offer you, so you can check that out now just go to thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/resources.
I hope you check it out and hope you find some stuff you love.
Okay, so let's get right into today's topic.
You know, as I've gone through this, gosh, coming up 10 years now 10, little over 10 years since my first diagnosis of breast cancer, I have learned a lot of stuff.
some very, very, very powerful life lessons.
One of those I think one of the most meaningful life lessons is the difference between fighting cancer and healing from cancer. Well, that's not what this show is about. That's one of those lessons. And that has made a tremendous impact on the way that I live and the way that I think about my health and the way that I find peace with what is happening in my body and what I want to happen in my body.
I think another huge shift is the idea of being strong. And how much work I've had to do in that area about thinking about what strong really meant to me before, which was pretty much just emotionally disconnect from everything and put on your big girl panties and power through. And I had to learn that strong meant being able to look inside, at comfortable things and uncomfortable things facing discomfort, facing emotions, being vulnerable, having difficult conversations, and those things are what really takes strength, right?
Shutting down, that was a piece of cake. I was really good at that. But opening up, that's a whole different story.
And again, that's not what this show is about.
But another very powerful lesson and something I give a lot of thought to is this idea of returning to normal. Now, I've talked about this a lot on the show, it's come up a lot because it does come up a lot. It comes up a lot in our lives after we go through breast cancer treatment, the desire to return to normal to get your life back that your life has been put on hold, forever ruined, forever changed, these are some of the comments that I hear.
And you know, when I'm coaching women when I'm working with women, and they'll bring up an idea or an experience or a thought or an emotion and I'll often ask them to dig into what that actually means to them. Because we know normal, what is normal, same thing right and life is never the same thing.
Life is evolving. Life is changing, life is growing, things are happening around us.
So what does normal mean to somebody?
This is a really important thing. And I offer it to you as an exercise to dig into because I think it's really cool when we get under the surface of the things we tell ourselves. And we ask ourselves, what does normal mean? Does normal mean that I do laundry on Sundays, and bills on Thursdays and go to work from nine to five? What is normal mean? What is underneath that?
And so let me share an experience that I had the other day, that gave me some clarity that I want to offer here.
So I went back to a spin class studio. And this was the first time since gyms closed down due to the pandemic here in California. And that since I was diagnosed with stage four cancer, which was almost a year ago, already, it's really hard to believe that it's been that long. But even though I exercise here on my own, and I go for walks, and I do things daily to support my healing, going back inside a studio was a little bit intimidating. I really wanted to do it. Because I really love this particular studio, where they do this spin classes. It's here, it's local in Southern California, it's called grit cycle.
And what I love about it is that most of the classes are done in the dark, and then they turn on these blue lights, and between the music and the lighting, everything is just such a really cool experience.
And even though you're in this room with his energy with a lot of other people, and an incredible instructor, who's just capable of riding the bike so fast, talking the whole time, and never sounding out of breath, which is absolutely amazing to me. But anyway, the energy in it is really cool.
So I really wanted to go back and like I've thought about it for a few weeks. And I finally made the commitment. And to go to the studio, you book it in an app, and then you have a certain window before your class that you can cancel if you choose not to go.
And I got really nervous.
And the night before the class I thought Oh My God, what am I can't do this?
What if I can't do this class because, you know, I have cancer in my spine and I have cancer in my hip...
And yeah, I have a peloton at home that I use, but that's a different intensity than class.
And you know what, if I get too hot, some of the medications that I take and the chemo that I'm on, I can get really dizzy and I started letting my brain go wild and convincing me don't do this spin class.
So I went into the app, and I thought, I'm just going to cancel, I'm just going to try it another time. And when I went in and said, Oh, you've missed the window, so you're going to get charged, or you lose your credit for this class, if you cancel now. And that is a very good accountability tool. I gotta tell you, if you have a Fitness Studio, charge people if they cancel outside the window because when I looked at that, I thought the credit is like 20 bucks, 25 bucks, I don't want to lose that.
Okay, I'll just go.
And then I talked myself down. And I said, Listen, right, you know, you're gonna go slow. If it starts to hurt, you can back off, you can stop, you are a grown-up, you can walk out of that room at any point, if you choose to do so you've got this, right?
So I went to the class.
And I loved it!
It was so fun. And as I was in that class, and I was feeling this music, and I was listening to this instructor, and I was watching him dance on the stage as he would jump out and off of his bike. And I see all these other people in the class doing something good for their health. And they're into this music, and I couldn't keep up with them. I wasn't even trying to keep up with them. I was trying to do my own thing in a way that supported my body without causing pain.
And I didn't care.
I was loving it. And here's what I realized as I consider this after the class and I thought is that like being normal again, you know, being able to go back to do the workouts that I did before I was diagnosed Is that what it feels like to be normal?
But I want to take it to a different level. And for me what that meant was, I felt alive. You know, I felt a life. And I started thinking about that and I thought that's what we want, right? What is normal, normal sounds so friggin mediocre, normal sounds so boring.
We want to feel alive. What is normal to me? Normal is feeling the physical capability of my body.
I love that, I love exercise I always have.
It was feeling the beat of the music, feeling the energy in a room full of people who are doing something for their body, feeling The motivation coming from the front of the room from this instructor of who is encouraging you and supporting you along the way. And it's being there in the moment, in the space of the thing, whatever it is, for me, one of them is exercise for you, I don't know, it could be anything it can, it could be anything, right? It can be being with the person you love being with your kids being with the with the girlfriends, being on a boat, being in the garden, it can be anything, but it's being there, being in it, and feeling everything, feeling everything, and loving everything.
I don't care if I was the oldest person in the room, or if I was the slowest person in the room. And I don't even know if I was because I was just enjoying it.
And before, if we would have gone back in time, we'll take that back to like 2013, when I started to work out again after I had gone through all of the treatments and all the surgeries and been released. And my mindset was that you're not doing good enough. This isn't like it used to be, you can't lift as much as you did, you can't run anymore. And I looked at all the things I couldn't do.
Whereas in that class the other day.
I just kept saying to myself: Good job. Good, you're here. Look at you, you did this. You showed up. You participated. You did the best you could. You felt the music. You felt the energy. You gave it your best. Good for you.
And I didn't go to that place of judgment, or criticism, or analyzing what couldn't be done, or how much better I would have done the class before. I was just so in love with that moment of feeling alive.
Feeling alive, God, it's a good feeling.
And here's the problem. We stop ourselves from that, with our own friggin brains, we stop ourselves from that by going to the place like I just described. I'm not good enough. I can't do as much as I did. I get too tired too fast. And so we miss out on the whole experience of feeling alive. Because we tell herself it doesn't feel normal like it used to. And it doesn't matter anymore what used to be.
What matters is only feeling alive right now, today.
So when we look at these two mindsets, and we always have both mindsets, right, there's no experience really in day-to-day life. I mean, there's tragedies that are horrible. And that's not what I'm talking about. I'm just talking about day-to-day life. And there's good and there's bad, right?
I'm walking on the beach a week or so ago. And my back has been very fatigued. And I was walking along, and I noticed that my mind was very focused on how much fatigue and discomfort I was experiencing in my back. And I caught myself thinking that and I thought, Okay, hold on. Where's my head going right now. I'm very focused on fatigue. I'm very focused on the negative experience that I'm having the discomfort that I'm having. And I'm not thinking about it, I'm walking. I'm not focusing on the sunshine on my face. And this, the sea breeze on my skin. I'm thinking about how tired my back is right now.
Now, I'm not saying don't honor and respect your body. Of course, I did. But I still had to get from where I was back to my car.
So I caught myself thinking that and I thought why am I choosing to focus there?
And it was an unintentional thing. Sometimes we have to catch our brain doing just what it does naturally, which is go to where there's pain to go to where there's discomfort to go to where there's unfamiliarity, anything like that. And as I caught myself, I switch that thought, because I have a choice in that moment. Just like I had a choice in that moment in that spin class. And just like you have a choice every single day will you choose to focus on the good, the beauty, the capability, all the things that you have in you.
And I'm not saying just think positive. I'm not saying just like, be so cliche and Oh, just be grateful.
But really notice it.
Really notice and give yourself credit for what you can do and what is beautiful in your life.
Because we have this, you know, these two sides, like I talked about. We have this side that we had cancer, and, you know, treatments and side effects from treatments. And if we're still taking hormone therapies, we have side effects from that. We may have long-term fatigue, we may have long-term chemo, brain, all those things are very real. And they need to be honored, and they need to be supported, we have to support our health. But at the same time, that's one part of life. And there's this whole other big, beautiful, amazing piece to life, where we're going to choose to direct our energy?
Because we're energy flows, energy grows.
Where we direct our thoughts, which is energy, where we think and direct our thoughts, that grows.
So if we're constantly thinking, I'm so tired, I'm so achy, I'm so miserable, we will continue to feel tired and achy and miserable. Now, if I choose not to focus on fatigue, does that mean I won't have fatigue? No, it doesn't. But it means fatigue won't consume the goodness in my life. It means I'll notice, oh, fatigue is coming up now. Do I have a few minutes, can I take a power nap?
Oh, I get fatigued after a certain amount of time at a certain point in the day, so as I schedule myself, I'm going to honor and respect that. And I'm going to schedule around that because I know I need time. That's me, that's my schedule every single day. I know that between 1130 and 1230 in the morning, my brain checks out, my body is done. I'm so exhausted, I have to stop, even for a little while. And I can get in, you know, a second wind. And I can do a little bit more. I know that I have to do anything that takes brainpower early in the morning. Because later in the afternoon, I might as well just be slogging through, I don't know, a blizzard in my brain. It's heavy and thick. And you know, the medications I take have set in and I can do anything that requires detail, or analytics or planning or things like that. I can just do simple things.
I know that!
And again, I can choose to say that sucks. That's not how I used to be that's not normal. Or I can choose to say, All right. What's the ultimate goal here? For me, it's to be alive tomorrow. Right now. That's it. Stay alive today. wake up tomorrow. That's the goal.
What's happening in my body right now? Well, these are the things they're the fatigue, here's the pain. Here's what the brain fog, whatever, whatever, whatever. How do I honor that so that I can make the most out of being alive today and being here tomorrow? How do I put the energy into the things I love?
So I want to offer that for your consideration.
When you hear yourself telling yourself, I want to feel normal, or I don't feel normal. I want you to break out a piece of paper and a pen. And really ask yourself what is normal? Put it at the top of a piece of paper. I'm not even joking. All my members will tell you I tell them to write stuff down all the time. Get it out of your head.
Normal is such a superficial word, right?
It's this high-level normal. Well, normal for me won't be the same as normal for you.
So what is normal mean?
What is normal feel like?
Where do you feel it in your body?
What kind of things do you experience when you feel normal?
And you might say something like, well, I used to be a runner. This is something that I said, you know, my own recovery the first time around, I used to love to run, and now I can't run anymore, right? My body's broken my joints or whatever, whatever, I can't run anymore. But it wasn't just the running that I loved. It was being outside. It was the feeling of moving my body. It was the accomplishment of however long I decided to run. It was how good I felt when I exercise. It was the endorphin boost that I got from exercise. So all of those things were what I loved and felt good to me. So I could say I want to go back to normal which means that I want to be able to run again. Or I could say I want to feel the things I felt when I ran. I wanted to feel the feelings I feel when I travel. The freedom, the excitement, the fascination of different things that I see. You know, you may want to feel something else. I love feeling the connectedness of being with my family and close friends, being heard, being understood.
These things may have fallen under that umbrella of normal. But I think it's so important that we look under that umbrella, that we move past that umbrella. And we look underneath to see what are the feelings we want back in this life.
Because you get to create the way you feel. You get to choose how you want to feel.
You may not get to choose what's happening to your body, I may not get to choose when my spine feels fatigued, or my hip starts to ache. But I get to choose how I want to feel emotionally. The more awareness you create, about how you want to feel, the more you get to see, you get to create that.
You want to feel free, what does that mean? What does free feel like? What does it look like? What does it feel like in your heart, in your chest? in your gut? Where do you feel it? What was the last thing you did, that caused you to feel that feeling that you loved so much?
Because that's where we can move in, to just reviving our life, to renewing ourselves, renewing our life, and moving into creating those feelings that help us to feel alive, that we get to choose to create at any time.
So I hope now when you hear that word normal come out of your mouth, you know, once you've, you've listened to something and you've been exposed to a new idea, I think it in itself creates more awareness of when you're using certain kinds of language or certain kinds of behavior. So let this be a buzzword for you.
When you hear yourself say I just want to feel normal, or just want to have my life back again. use those as moments as little cues for yourself to stop and say what do I mean by that? And if I am not feeling normal, if you're not feeling normal, and you're not feeling like you have life, what are you feeling?
Because you see, it's this really tricky thing that our brain does was it pulls us out of this moment of life. If you're here listening to me, right now you have a life.
That reminds me, as I say that of this post that I had some time back, I was doing one of my workshops, and I think it was the Learn To Love Yourself After Breast Cancer Workshop. And the woman posted a comment on it. And she'd probably just seen, you know, the breast cancer recovery coach title, she really didn't know anything about me.
And she said, there is no life after breast cancer for those of us who have metastatic disease.
And I thought, holy cow, that's so friggin sad.
I mean, that's if you're here and you're writing that comment, you've got a life right now.
We have to choose, are we gonna go all in and love that life and enjoy that life in the package that it comes to us in for whatever limited amount of time we have it? Or are we going to judge it for not being normal, and just frickin miss it altogether?
I choose not to miss it.
And I hope that offering that insight to you, maybe helps you in some way as well. If you want to make comments, ask questions, give me your insights and thoughts on being alive.
I would love to hear it.
So come and find me on Facebook as Laura Lummer on Instagram as the breast cancer recovery coach and join my free Facebook group, the breast cancer recovery group on Facebook, love to have these conversations there. And also go to my website, I send out a weekly email to my people and be the first to know when I have workshops coming up. I've got a lot of fun things planned for October because October is a really big month not just for breast cancer, but for many reasons for me, which I'm going to go into in another show.
But I would love to hear from you. And you can go to my website at any time, download my free video series, the four pillars of breast cancer recovery, go to the new resources page and just use it to get everything you need and come and find the Facebook group also and I'd love to interact with you.
Alright, I will talk to you again next week.
And until then, please be good to yourself and expect other people to be good to you as well.