#158 How Can You Live Fully When You're Afraid of Cancer and Death?

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 Ever heard that little voice in the back of your head that says things like: 

“I probably won’t live long enough to finish that.” 

“I shouldn’t put the money out I might get sick and not be able to do it.” 

“I would go on vacation, but I can’t commit because…what if?” 

These are the ways that your brain stops you from living your fullest life and keeps you stuck in fear. 

If this happens to you, you’re not alone. 

Listen to this week’s episode to hear how to recognize when the fear of recurrence and death is keeping you form living your life and what you can do about it. 

Referred to in this episode: 

30 Day Mind, Body Breast Cancer Challenge 

 

 

Read full transcript below:

0:01
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.

0:38
Hello, and welcome to another episode of the breast cancer recovery coach Podcast. I am your host, Laura Lummer.

0:46
As always, I am thrilled to be here with you today like I really mean that I know I say it every time because it really mean that. What a gift, to be able to be here to be able to do this podcast.

0:57
And I'm going to start off with a huge thank you because it's also to be able to hear from you, when I get reviews, like the one that was left for the show. And there's no name on this profile. So you're gonna know who you are, because it's Txyfhvuvub .

1:17
Now, obviously, I can't even begin to imagine the name that's behind that user profile. But you left a lovely review. And I just want to say that I love what I read in there that you said that every day you think about what you can do to help your body heal. That it warms my heart, my heart glows, and how to control your thinking and responses when it all gets overwhelming.

1:43
That's it, that's a girl, that's the message.

1:47
And to hear that and to know that, you know someone else out there and a lot of you out there from what I hear and the messages and emails I get are shifting that mentality to fighting and anger and what cancer did to me to what can I do every day to support my body's ability to heal.

2:06
And we can stay present in we can feel good about ourselves. And we can do things that are good for ourselves. Because we increase our own awareness when we think like that.

2:16
You know, every step we take, if we wake up and say today, my intention is to do what I can to support my body's ability to heal. And we can use that as a filter in everything, every aspect, I know we have a tendency to go right to food and exercise. And there's nothing wrong with that. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. And using this as a filter for what you put in your body is excellent, you're going to be hearing a lot about that on next week's show. But for every aspect of life, for the way that we work, how we work, who we work around, our relationships, where we decide to spend our days and spend our evenings. And we can ask ourselves, is this supporting my body's ability to heal? How do I feel right now, doing what I'm doing?

3:07
So when I read that, I just it means so much to me, and I'm so frigging happy for you that you are thinking like that. That my friend is amazing. And just I can't wait to hear what it does for you. I don't know who you are. So if you're in the breast cancer recovery group, or you're even one of my members, I would love to hear how that's working for you. So please come find me send me a DM or post something in the group if that is you. And I would love to hear how shifting your mindset to that is supporting you in your life in creating the happiness that you want.

3:46
So excited.

3:47
All, right.

3:48
In speaking of doing that, and speaking of changing your thoughts, thinking differently, connecting to yourself and treating yourself with love and compassion, it is time we are going to start the mind body breast cancer challenge next week, this podcast will come out on Friday, October 1, the introductory emails for the challenge will go out on August, not August, October third. And we jump right in on October 4. There's a Facebook group for everybody who's in this challenge. It's only active during the challenge is there for us to just like really bring our energy together in one space while we're all working on the same thing. And it's a beautiful challenge with very, very short if you're worried I can't do this challenge. I don't have time, trust me. I understand that kind of a busy life. And so there's a very, very short video, a short few minute meditation and a beautiful challenge guide that I created so that you have that time, no more than 15 minutes a day. And I really, really, really hope that you can carve out 15 minutes a day for yourself to learn how to treat yourself well.

4:58
And if you can't, if you say to me no I can't, I don't have 15 minutes in a day, I say you need a challenge even more my friend, because you got to have 15 minutes for yourself. 15 minutes for yourself out of an entire day, it's super important.

5:14
You can sign up for the challenge at thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/mindbody.

5:20
There are two ways to do it.

5:21
You can join for free. Or you can do the paid version, which also gets you a trial period in the revived membership for the month of October, and I have a spectacular month set up for the month of October, you're going to love it.

5:37
So come and join me, come and join me in this challenge. Let's really just pump up this energy of self compassion and love and hope. for the month of October, I want us together as survivors supporting each other, and tuning into yourself, right? We look outside ourselves for information, we look inside ourselves for answers.

6:02
So if you need those answers to what is going to bring more happiness and fulfillment and peace of mind to your life, come to the challenge. I'm just going to give you some guidance, and you're going to work on discovering those answers for yourself. Alright, I hope to see you there, thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/mindbody.

6:26
Alright, let's get into the show.

6:28
So this topic is something that's so powerful and so meaningful for me. And it applies to me now in everything I do in my life. And it applied to me 10 years ago, after my first diagnosis of breast cancer, and it was actually more powerful when I finished breast cancer treatment in 2012, and I had to figure out how to get back to life.

6:50
And this came up for me, then I know it comes up for so many survivors. And now living with and focusing on healing from metastatic breast cancer, this is something I think about every single day. But what really brought it to the forefront was something that happened with me the other day. So there is a program that I have been wanting to do for a long time now, long time. And it's it's quite an investment. But I believe that investment is exactly that. It's an expense, but I don't look at as as a huge investment into an amazing experience that I know will make me a better coach, will help me approach my healing from a even better and more rewarding place, and it will help me support other people even more effectively. I know this, and this is why I want to do this program.

7:49
But I looked at this program, and I look at the cost of this program. And it's come open for enrollment a couple of times and I thought, well, let me plan this, this and the other thing, and then I'll do it the next time. And then the next time it opened, I was diagnosed with stage four cancer.

8:07
And so I thought, well, I have a bigger thing to focus on right now I got to figure out how to live.

8:12
And then it's coming open again in November. And I looked at it. And I said, I know I have to do this, my inner voice been saying this to me for some time, I have to do this. And you know what? I'm going to do it.

8:28
And I would go to the website and I go to click the enroll button and eyeeeye, am I ready to do this?

8:35
And I noticed that the thought that was coming up in the back of my mind was what if the cancer gets worse? What if I don't live long enough to finish this. And I was reminded after my first diagnosis, and I've shared this story for just the Cliff's notes version. I was supported by a woman who was a breast cancer mentor at a local hospital as soon as I was diagnosed in 2011. And she was a lifeline for me and I to this day love her dearly. Even though I've only talked to her just a couple of times in my life, the impact she had was so meaningful. And I decided when I was done with treatment, I would go back become a mentor like she was so that I could give back to newly diagnosed survivors and from there, that's how I am where I am today. Right? That's what started me on this road to supporting other survivors.

9:31
So as a part of that I made a decision in 2013 to go back to college and get a new degree in Healthy Lifestyle coaching. And I remember when I was deciding, you know, this is this degree is not cheap. It's a huge investment of money. It's a huge investment of time but in my heart I knew I have to do this and I wrestled with, but what if I don't live long enough? What if I invest all this money, and then I get cancer again? What if I die?

10:05
And I had to work through those thoughts.

10:07
And I had to say, you know what, today I'm alive. And today I'm gonna freakin live. And today, I know, this is what I need to do.

10:14
So fast forward now 10 years later, stage four cancer, working on healing from it every single day, I see this program, I know the time and money investment that it's going to require. But in my heart, I know this is my path. I know it for 100% certainty. I know, I am supposed to do this.

10:35
And yet I find myself sitting down and emailing this school and saying, "Hey, you know, what if I become ill during this, you know?"

10:48
And, and there's nothing wrong with understanding everything you're buying into, there's nothing wrong with getting all the details. But what what was the challenge was that underlying thought in my head, that as I'm going through, saying, I'm focusing on healing every day, that there's a thought in the back of my mind, maybe it won't work. Right?

11:11
And it could be right, and it could be wrong, but it was there.

11:14
And that is the thing that that I became aware of. And so I wanted to talk about it on this show. Because the interesting thing is, when we think about someone having a life threatening experience, whether it's an injury, or an illness, we often think, oh, that's going to change their life, right? They looked death in the face, they survived. Now, they're going to just want to live like with fire under their feet, right?

11:46
Passion galore.

11:47
Like these people, that's going to change everything, they're just going to go all into this life, because they realize how tentative it is, and how precious precious it is, and how delicate it is.

12:02
But I'll tell you what I've seen more often than not, it's the other way around.

12:09
Much more often than not, we come out of this devastating illness, we survive it, or we're told that it's something we had to live with. And instead of going all in in life, and embracing it, we get really, really scared.

12:28
And we start basing decisions and choices on what if I die? On what if I get cancer again? What if I'm too sick?

12:39
And in doing that, we get very stuck in fear. And we miss out on a lot of good stuff. Yeah, we do.

12:48
So I want to talk about that today. Because I don't want you to feel alone thinking that. And I want to see if I can offer you something that might help you get on the other side of that. And I by the other side, I don't necessarily mean go from looking and saying, should I paint this room? Well, no reason to spend the 50 bucks on a bucket of paint because I'll probably get cancer again and die. To go from that to Oh, let's tie dye this place man, we're going all in.

13:20
No, that's not what I'm asking.

13:22
I just want to offer you something to maybe help you start to see. But in this life, the thought of should I do this I might die, is very in your face because of your experience. But it's always been true. It was true before cancer. And it's true after cancer. And it's true with cancer. Because we're just human beings. And we only have a limited lifespan. But I also know something very important here. And I would say that as I coach women, this is a really common phrase that I hear. And so I'm going to share it with you.

14:09
I can tell you what I just told you write, I can give you a rational and logical statement. I can say to you, hey, Susie Q don't be afraid to jump in with both feet because everyone's going to die. Life is just temporary. It's okay to live one day at a time. You don't have to be afraid.

14:33
I can tell you all these things. And you can say to me, as so many women have said to me, I know that rationally that makes sense, but it doesn't change the way I feel.

14:47
And I get that.

14:48
And it isn't that easy. I can sit here and tell you that all day long. But the problem comes in, the gap comes in where you hear me say it, you say to yourself, that's logical. But you don't believe that it's true.

15:07
And that's where the wheels come off.

15:10
When we don't believe that we can live fully, when we don't believe that it's okay for us to reengage in life. Then people can tell us that till they're blue in the face, as my mother used to say.

15:28
I told you that till I was blue in the face, and you don't listen, you don't.

15:33
It's not that you're not listening. It's that you don't believe it. You have a thought that is still there in your mind. Like the one I shared with you. The thought that said to me, Laura, you sure you want to do that? I mean, it's a six month program. What if you're not around to finish it? Or what if you're too sick to do it? And as I said, that's a valid thought. It's a valid thought. And if you're a survivor, and you've had cancer, and you go, you know what, I want to remodel that bathroom. But what if I get cancer again, it's a valid thought.

16:11
And it's being aware that the thought is there, and then not feeling bad about it. Right? As that thought came up for me, I didn't go, Oh, I should feel terrible about that. I'm contradicting myself, I'm saying I'm doing everything I can to support the healing of my body. And at the same time, I'm saying, well, do I want to make this decision? Because I might get sick and die.

16:34
And I looked at that thought, Well, isn't that interesting?

16:38
Isn't it interesting that my brain isn't all in on this yet. And so what I said to myself at that point is, you know what, you may be right brain. And that thought may be true. But today, I'm here and alive. And if I'm here, and alive six months from today, I want to have completed that program. And so I'm going to do it, even though I'm scared. And I'm gonna do it. Even though my brains not 100% in with me.

17:12
If this resonates with you, if somewhere in your mind, regardless of where you're at, in your recovery process, regardless, as if you're newly out of treatment, you're five years out of treatment, you have no evidence of disease, you're living with metastatic disease. What can you do to get your brain on board with living your fullest life, wherever you're at, even though you have fear and thoughts come up of what if I get cancer again?

17:45
What if I don't make it next time? What if, what if what if you fill in your what ifs, we all have different ones.

17:52
Well, the first step is, and I know this seems so simple, but trust me, it's so powerful.

18:00
The first step is to become aware of what that thought is. And so we'll say, and I hear this all the time, I'm sure you hear this all the time, you probably hear yourself, say it, I'm fearful of a recurrence.

18:13
And that is understandable.

18:17
What's underneath that to get a little bit deeper. Okay, I have worked with women who have stopped themselves from doing everything from painting a house, to remodeling house, applying for a promotion at work, and to even I'm going to share the story, and you're going to know who you are when you hear the story. But I'm not going to mention any names. I just think it's such a beautiful story. And to me, this is the epitome of doing work on the way that we think.

18:52
So this story is of a woman who I work with. And she suffered a tragic loss of a very, very dear pet. And it was devastating for so many reasons, as many of you could identify with. And pretty soon after the loss of her pet, she rescued a different pet. And we got on a call and I saw the new pet. And I realized that it was not, It was a very mature animal. And I asked her, how old is that animal? And she told me, you know, it was almost as old as the animal she had just lost. We talked about that. And I said, You were so devastated at this loss. And then you went out and you got another animal that is very close to the same age, which is, as I said, pretty mature. And the chances of this animal dying soon are pretty dang high. And she said to me, yeah, I don't want to get a young animal because I think I might die before it does. And I don't want to have to worry about what's going to happen to it.

20:09
Now this one is a cancer survivor, and she's a relatively young cancer survivor, she had breast cancer in her early 40s.

20:16
So in terms of a normal lifespan, she's got a potentially long, beautiful life ahead of her. But the fear is very real.

20:24
And I think I just want to re emphasize this, as we talk about this, it's so important, don't feel alone and feeling like I should be doing more in life know that fear. After coming out of this treatment, and this experience, in holding yourself back from life, because of thoughts of doing it, again, are very, very real.

20:47
And so I want to share how this story ended cuz it's so beautiful. And because she's done so much work on herself from a really tough space, she joined me and has been a member with me since she was still in treatment. And so this is, you know, very raw, and the experience is very raw. And the fear is very real and powerful.

21:10
And recently, I feel like emotional to saying this, she is about to become the mama to a new baby animal. A little baby is still with its Mama, but it's going to come to her and she's going to be a fur baby mama. And to me, that is everything, that she feels comfortable, she feels capable, she's ready to say, I'm going to take on this new baby, fir baby.

21:43
And that tells me that she has hope, and that her brain is starting to believe.

21:49
And in all honesty, time is a big important thing here. When we start thinking about should I do that, what if I get cancer again?

21:57
It does dim with time, that fear, but not always, and not completely in takes intentional work.

22:09
And that's why I wanted to share this story about one of my members because she worked hard, you know, she was in this place where the brain is resisting and offering fear and scared and traumatized. And she didn't want to feel like that, we would have conversations we would go into, where she was just very focused on filtering life through I'll probably have cancer, again, to how much she didn't want to be in that place. And she worked at it. And so that's really important.

22:40
I want you to realize that as I give you this next step, because how do you go from where you are now, if you're holding yourself back from living fully because you're telling yourself, you're probably going to have cancer again? Or you probably won't live long enough? How do you go from that place to the place you want to get to? How do you start to believe you've got to put some effort in consistent effort.

23:09
And you have to look deeper than just saying, How do I get past this fear? You have to examine those fears. So like she examined actions that she was taking in her life and realized, Oh, I did this, I took this action because my underlying thought is this fear.

23:27
So taking this simple, but not easy step. And doing it consistently. Looking at this thought, taking a piece of paper, taking a journal, and writing at the top. Where do I hold myself back in life because of a fear of death or recurrence? Start writing. Where do you hold yourself back?

23:53
Because it's end up becoming more aware of where we're doing that, then we get to start to work on it. It is the awareness has to be the first step, the awareness, understanding what you're doing.

24:08
And so we'll go through life. And we'll just say, you know, the fear is here. The fear is here. And that's true. But there's thoughts under that feeling fear. And I want to encourage you to get to those thoughts, see them clearly. It's like the the review that I read at the very beginning of the show, where the person who left the review said that now she thinks every day about how to control her thinking and her responses when it all gets overwhelming. Right?

24:38
Fear can be very overwhelming very quickly, but having an awareness do I stop myself from engaging with my social circle? Do I stop myself from taking a course, going on a vacation, going to a conference, spending this money on me?

24:54
Where do you stop yourself from living fully because you feel Death or recurrence?

25:01
And it's so interesting because we will always see the results in our life come from the way we're thinking about something. So if we say, I'm not living fully, because I'm thinking, I might get cancer again, or I might die from cancer.

25:15
What is the result of that? I don't live fully.

25:18
So it's this vicious circle. And if you just stop with that thought, there's a fear of me getting cancer again, you'll stay stuck in that circle.

25:27
So if you ask yourself that question, and you do that journaling exercise, where am I not living fully because of my fear of cancer, recurrence, or death.

25:37
And then you can see where you want to choose a new thought, then you can see where you can say, you know what, I'm going to do that anyway. And you can look at the truth. And you can look at the logic and you look at the rationale, and every time your brain starts to freak you out, you can help yourself with that, right? I said earlier, I can rationalize with you, but if you don't believe it, then the rationalizing isn't going to help. But rationalizing will support you once you become aware of where you're holding yourself back. And then commit to yourself to work on believing. To changing your belief because what is a belief, a belief is a thought that you think so much so often with so much emotion behind it, that you begin to believe it.

26:20
And you can believe new things.

26:24
All right, I hope that helps you. And I really hope you come and join me for the entire month of October in the mind body breast cancer challenge because in that challenge, we're going to be connecting to our body, exploring our thoughts, exploring where we hold ourselves back, and where we go all in. And you're going to have a beautiful I think it's like a 40 page downloadable guide to help you guide yourself through some of these questions and thoughts that you have for yourself so that you can start to move past them finish this year strong, and create an amazing life for yourself.

27:03
So come and join me thebreastcancerrecoverycoach.com/mindbody and I hope to see you soon.

27:13
I'll talk to you again next week and until then, please be good to yourself and expect others to be good to you as well.

27:18
Take care.

 

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