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  • Writer's pictureSurviving Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer and Gratitude

<img src="gratitude.png" alt="woman holding her heart in gratitude">

For many in the US, celebrating Thanksgiving represents a chance to reflect on what we are truly grateful for. At survivingbreastcancer.org we recognize that gratitude matters, and plays a critical role in positive reinforcement. We are eternally grateful to all of our community and Board members, medical advisors, sponsors, collaborators, and you. In addition we have recently reached out to our community to ask what they are grateful for.


What follows are five of the prominent themes that members of our community shared that they are most grateful for:


1.) Family, friends and loved ones ranked highest: We found that the loving and mutually respectful support and comfort that is derived from this group enables us to collectively meet the challenge of a breast cancer diagnosis.


2.) The SBC breast cancer community: Playing a role within our vaunted community significantly adds to the positivity and understanding of our prognosis and future. Those who are newly diagnosed can take advantage of the experiences of those who came before them, with the associated offers of hope and support. SBC allows for us to experience cancer not in isolation, but rather, with our new breast cancer family.


3.) Positive people: what a difference positivity makes in the healing process as we continue to navigate our way through the trials and tribulations of this heinous diagnosis.


4.) Intimacy: The majority of this beautiful community have been deprived of estrogen, or have experienced surgical scarring, breast tissue reduction or breast removal, and note that the associated lack of sex drive can be countered with a timely, loving embrace, e.g., hugging, handholding and loving proximity. Note: The opportunity to spend physical time with your loved ones is something that we feel should never be taken for granted—as we’ve come to know all too well in this community.


5.) Random acts of kindness: in this day and age we are bombarded by negativity on TV, in the news, at work, responses to the COVID-19 virus and our Social Media. How refreshing it is to observe in real time, or through the lens of SM, a random act of kindness. We have all come across/viewed an act of kindness and immediately have felt the benefit of the intentionality.


And so we close by asking “Have you performed a small random act of kindness to another, and how did it make you feel”?



Among many forms of journaling, gratitude journaling is a popular practice for reminding us of the positive things in our lives even during tough times. Read More.


“If there’s one gift I’ve received from getting MBC, it is a clearer vision of what really matters to me. Thankfully, I’ve had some time to put that into practice: to care more lovingly for myself, to decide what really “fills my bucket” and get as much of that as I can, to heap love on my family and friends, to create things (such as my children’s baby albums, finally—they are 25 and 23!), to spend time in nature, to whittle out things and people and responsibilities that don’t serve me anymore.” Read More.


“As I continued to practice being present, I realized that I no longer desperately searched for the ‘other side’ of cancer, my mind wasn’t constantly wandering to the what-if's and the how-will-life-be's. Instead, I had many moments of acceptance, surrender, peace, and gratitude every single day. It felt amazing, but also very unfamiliar.

Contemplating this unfamiliar sense of stillness one day, I silently wondered ‘what am I feeling’ and I heard a voice in my head respond with ‘Home….you've come home.’ When I let go of the death grip I had on all the qualifiers of how life needed to be in order for me to be happy and ok, I found my center, my true self, and it felt like coming home. I felt a belonging and recognition -- like ahhh, there you are, I've been searching for you but I didn't know it was you I was searching for!” Read More.


Gloria has fought several forms of cancer over the years, including breast cancer. She writes, “I live each day in gratitude as I walk the journey of my life in daily meditation, journaling, putting healthy boundaries, eating healthy foods, and daily walks in nature while chanting.


I'm very grateful for Alistair Cunningham who was guided to write the book entitled “A Healing Journey” and all the workbooks that go with all the various modules and run by Wellspring Canada!!!” Read More.

 

From Around The Web

Here are a few reasons to be thankful that you might not have thought of. Read on for all ten.


"Small Victories: Any kind of positive results are victories. Be grateful for each step that gets you closer to beating cancer. Whether it is a successful surgery, clean scans, or just a “good day”, soak in these small victories and be thankful for the hope they provide.


Insurance: Having insurance is a reason to be thankful that is often overlooked. Without insurance, you may not be able to go through the treatments you need. A lot of people turn down treatment because they have no insurance. If you are a person that does not have insurance, be thankful that you have the ability to seek alternate resources that can help you with treatment costs.


Honest Dialogue with a Confidant: Whether it is a family member, a friend, your doctor, or a counselor, honest dialogue with someone you trust about your diagnosis is a reason to be thankful. To be able to talk openly about your emotional, mental, and physical struggles relieves stress and takes away the pressure you feel to carry the burden alone.” Read More.


A 2019 study published in Frontiers in Psychology, explored the effects on quality of life that gratitude practices can provide for women with breast cancer. In this study “each day for 2 weeks, 42 women with breast cancer described their psychological well-being, social support, and coping strategies. Women in the intervention condition reported the reasons why they felt grateful that day. Moreover, all participants took part in a pre-test session where trait measures were taken to control for dispositional differences. Listing the reasons for gratitude led to higher levels of daily psychological functioning, greater perceived support, and greater use of adaptive coping strategies. These results suggest that gratitude interventions may improve the lives of oncological patients.” Read More.


“How gratitude can help during cancer treatment: Often, people assume gratitude is merely ignoring any difficulties they are facing and only focusing on the positive. But in reality, practicing gratitude gives people the ability to accept whatever their current challenges are while still finding joy throughout their struggle. Research shows that there are many benefits from practicing gratitude.

Gratitude can:

  • Increase our resilience in the face of stress and crisis

  • Open us up to new opportunities and experiences

  • Impact our physical responses, including lowered blood pressure, increased immunity and reduced stress, which may lower our risks for health complications

  • Bring an increase in healthy behaviors, such as regular exercise, preventive health care and healthy diet

  • Contribute to more satisfying relationships with friends, family and our respective communities

How to cultivate gratitude: Engaging in daily activities and exercises, such as reflection and journaling, may help to cultivate a habit of gratitude. Use this list to help kick-start your practice of gratitude.

  • Four minutes of gratitude: Set a timer for four minutes and write down everything you are grateful for. Reflecting on this entry during times of distress or unhappiness can help put the brain into the mode of gratitude.

  • Gratitude reminder: Pick something you see every day in your bedroom, office, classroom, hospital room, etc., that redirects you towards gratitude. Focus on this item during difficult times.

  • Gratitude hot seat: Take turns during get-togethers with family and friends this month to verbalize your gratitude towards each other.

  • Gratitude letters: Write a letter, send a note or mail a holiday card to someone who has had an impact on you. Use the opportunity to express your appreciation for how this person's actions have impacted you.

  • Benefits list: Create a list of things in your life that you are grateful for. Reflect on how these are often taken for granted or how your life would be different if they were absent.” Read More.


The 411: A New Approach To Gratitude (Rethink Breast Cancer) Shawna Rich-Ginsberg, a counsellor, gets real about ways to experience gratitude during breast cancer and some of the challenges of doing so. “For women with breast cancer, or anyone in a health crisis, there are a number of challenges [around experiencing gratitude]:

The tyranny of positive thinking We have this notion with health that the mind/body connection is just so powerful that if we just think positively ALL THE TIME (even when we are feeling our worst) everything will be better. In the cancer world, this is called the “tyranny of positive thinking” because it can be a burden to carry with you, especially when you are having a bad day and feeling sorry for yourself. There is also the idea that somehow positive thinking can actually cure cancer or stop it from spreading, which is absolutely unfounded.

Cancer is NOT a gift A gift or present implies something that is wanted or something for which there is no payment expected in return. I can safely say after working with cancer patients for seven years that there is a price to pay for getting cancer, and it’s high. I know plenty of people who would say they have stronger relationships because of their illness, a new career, a greater appreciation for certain things, or they don’t sweat the small stuff. All of which may warrant some gratitude, but let’s be clear – no one is grateful for a life-threatening disease they didn’t ask for – they are perhaps grateful for the lessons it taught them or that they got through treatment.” Read More.

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Upcoming Events

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Surviving Breast Cancer provides breast cancer support, events, and webinars at no cost to you! Whether you are looking to gain more knowledge on a particular topic or meet up with other breast cancer survivors, we have something for everyone. 

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Our standing appointment on Thursdays is for all stages. We also host specific breakout groups once a month for specific stages and subtypes such as Metastatic breast cancer, and Inflammatory Breast Cancer, etc. 

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The Book Club meets the first Sunday of every month at 11 am ET. You are welcome to join each month or pick and choose your month based on your availability and the book we are reading. 

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Después de un Diagnóstico