Remember The Caregivers!

(Editor’s Note: Gina & Russ – fellow coaches and friends in New Jersey – have different cancer experiences and collaborated on this blog for the benefit of you and those around you.)

GINA:

Sometimes we are so caught up in our recovery that we forget about the needs of others. It wasn’t until almost a year after my first surgery for a double mastectomy that I became aware of what my husband was going through in terms of my cancer diagnosis. I was so involved in taking an active role in my recovery (not to say that this is not a positive action) and the well-being of my children that it didn’t even dawn on me what my husband was going through in the process and I don’t even think he thought about himself either since his primary focus was caring for me.   So this one day about a year after my surgeries and treatment we were having a discussion and he described to me how difficult it was for him not to worry about recurrence of my cancer and it opened up a door to a conversation about the emotions of what he had been feeling all throughout the year long experience we had been through.

I was actually devastated at the thought that I hadn’t even been focusing on what he was going through internally. Caregivers, while they are carrying their own burden can sometimes get lost in the journey. We have to be consciously aware of the emotions that they are going through in the process as well and this is why it is so important for caregivers to feed themselves while caring for their loves ones and for us as survivors, even though we are carrying our own load, to recognize the pain of what our caregivers are experiencing and to simply say: “Thank you” for remaining by our side.

When we look back it’s all so simple, all we have to do is have a conversation, speak up, express our feelings and ask for what we need and what the other person needs in return even if we are afraid to do so.

It’s all about fluid conversations and getting past our fears so that we can remain united and healthy in facing our journey together.

So today, I ask that you tell your caregiver how much their love and support has meant to you on your journey and to ask them what they are experiencing and feeling so that you can give back to them in return.

RUSS:

Gina makes such excellent points.  I so admire her for her strength and insight (and of course her friendship).  Luckily for me, I haven’t been diagnosed with cancer.  My Mom has though – Stage Zero Breast Cancer this Summer.  I can say now that it has had a happy ending.  She’s finished with her radiation and doesn’t need chemo.  Thank goodness.  We’re all very grateful. 

Overall, my experience as a caregiver was positive, because of the support of those around me.  I needed them just like my Mom needed me.  Somewhat early on in her process of dealing with the cancer, I asked if it was alright with her if I posted about it on my Facebook, and luckily for me, she said “please do whatever it takes to get the support you want and need”.  Because of the work I do as an Entrepreneur and Coach, my use of social media is rather frequent and I talk a lot about what’s going on in my life personally and professionally.  For that period where I was coming to terms with what may happen and what was happening, but hadn’t mentioned it broadly, I felt as if I wasn’t living an authentic life.  For me, talking about it publicly was needed.  Much-needed actually.  Once I announced it, the floodgates opened with love and support that still hasn’t stopped 3.5 months later.  It energizes me, and my Mom, who very much appreciates the kind words from people she’s met and many she’s never met.

This may resonate with you, or you may have a very different style.  Whatever you need is your decision, and I’d bet that the people around you will support you in however you want to be treated. 

Here’s my message for everyone reading this:  If you’re a patient, carve out just a little time for the caregivers in your life.  If you’re a caregiver, take time for your own self-care.  Think about what you need and then don’t be shy in telling others.  Lastly, if you know a caregiver, ask them what they need and how you can best support them.

Good luck on your journey!

Love,

Gina & Russ


Gina Costa-Goldfarb is a breast cancer survivor and Certified Professional Coach. She helps women diagnosed with breast cancer cope, step by step, with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so they gain confidence and feel in control of their life again. For more on her, go to www.newbeginningswithgina.com.


Russ Terry is a Gratitude guru who’s helping to make the world a happier and more grateful place.  Earlier this year, he published his first book:  My Gratitude Journal:  365 days of the people & things I’m grateful for and the lessons you can learn from them.  He has two more books on Gratitude due out in 2015. For more on him, go to www.russterrylifecoach.com.

What is the worst possible scenario that could be? It’s not always our truth!

Don’t let the title of this article lead you to a negative mindset, it’s not meant to. It is all about shifting to a more positive and realistic frame of mind. In coaching we call this “safety net” coaching and we use it to let clients explore what the worst possible outcome in a situation might be, because most of the time it isn’t the truth and just a story or a flurry of thoughts that we create in our minds that only serves us by holding us back and keep us stuck in non-movement and in a place of fear. It came to mind for me earlier today as fear came up for me. It was then that I realized that I had unknowingly used safety net coaching in my own life challenges and I thought I would share some examples of what that looks like. Fear can be a very real feeling, yet it can also be a debilitating one and in that sense not real and it holds us back from what we truly want.

So for me in certain life challenges and to get to the next level I had to ask myself the question: “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?” When I thought about the worst and wrapped my mind around that, I think it lead me to: “Ok, so what is the best possible outcome?” and it allowed me to process things in a more realistic and present mindset.

When I was deciding if I wanted to end a marriage in my late 20’s, I was terrified to leave the relationship for many reasons and I thought of what the worst possible outcome could be, and there really was none. In fact, the worst possible scenario would have been if I stayed in the relationship and remained unhappy and looked back in the same place years later with regret.

In my 30’s I experienced the traumatic event of my mother’s passing and giving birth to my daughter within days. I was in a very dark place called a “grief induced post-partum depression.” For me simply being in that state was the worst possible scenario, so I finally managed to shift out of it (with much support in many areas) to a place of turning all of my negative life experiences into positive ones.

In my 40’s I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that was definitely a game changer for me because I was consciously aware at that time and the thoughts and emotions kept flowing around my mortality, around where my life was going, around my career, my relationship and my children. I remember thinking at that time also: “What is the worst possible thing that could happen?” The answer there was that I could not control this diagnosis and that yes, the worst case scenario would be I could die. Being a religious person and one with a very deep connection to faith, I was willing to accept that if it was, but that didn’t stop me from thinking about what could be and what would be and that was the best possible scenario. So when I got passed the place of what the worst could be, I was able to get to what the best possible outcome could be and although it would be a painful and emotional experience, I could walk through what I had to face, get the care and treatment that I needed and then get back to managing my relationships, my career, the care of my children and of myself.

More recently I experienced this with a career change. After 30 years in one field, I decided to start two new businesses. My initial reaction was to immediately revert to safety and took a very well-paying job where someone else would employ me. This didn’t sit well in me for long in my gut and I decided to nix that choice and go with opening up both businesses. Again, I asked myself: “What’s the worst case scenario?” The answer was simple: “If I failed I could always go back to safe, but if I didn’t explore the fear the regret would be even worse!” So here’s the thing, by exploring the worst possible scenario came the birth of the best case scenario and what exists now for me, the opening and sustaining of both businesses and the flexibility to pursue my passion.

So you see, most of the time we go on automatic pilot and think the only thing that can happen is the worst possible scenario, when in reality that is so far from the truth because we have so many options open and available to us.

Even if we do have to face the “worst possible scenario” we can do it in a place where we live in the moment and we make choices on how we want to move forward. I am seeing it via a colleague who is facing a “worst case scenario” in terms of an illness that is very real and she still walks and lives in a space of her best possible scenario every day. I have to say I am truly amazed and inspired and so happy to know her and be taught by her. We are forever all teachers and students and we were put on this earth to explore and make choices. 


Gina Costa, CPC, ELI-MP is the founder of New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC, which helps women diagnosed with breast cancer cope, step by step, with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so they gain confidence and feel in control of their life again. To learn more about Gina and her coaching practice, visit http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

Source: http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com

Values & The Cancer Experience

Often times the values that we grew up with affect how we deal with cancer. Or we can have an awakening and create new values, values that we always longed for at our core and we can start living our own truth.

Some of the underlying values that you grew up with might be:

  • The feeling that you have to be strong all the time;
  • Seeking support of others or isolating yourself due to beliefs around perfection;
  • Asking or not asking professionals or counselors for assistance; or
  • Turning to faith for coping. 

These are just some examples and none is good or bad or right or wrong; the bottom line is what is good for you as opposed to others? Many people find that cancer changes their values. I know it changed mine and by that I do not mean that I threw out the values that were given to me as a child, but that I fine-tuned them and turned the dial with them to set more focus on how I wanted to live my life during treatment and post cancer.

Own your values, modify things such as:

  • Daily duties and what is truly important and what isn’t;
  • Spending more time with loved ones;
  •  Exercising self-care within you first before others;
  • What do you enjoy? Helping others, spending time out doors, taking time out for yourself?
  • Learn something new; do something you have always wanted to but never did.

Take this time to reassess your values, pull them apart and put them back together.

Do what feels right for you!  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I really want and why do I want it?
  • Are my current values serving me or others?
  • What would it feel like if I rewrote my values and lived the life I have always wanted to?
  • What would living that life look like?

The cancer experience can be a difficult one, but it doesn’t always have to be and look difficult. Think of it as a challenge to change. You can use it as a time to look within and create an entirely new perspective on cancer and life. Cancer doesn’t define you. Your past doesn’t define you. Life is all about letting go of old and adding new.

How can you modify your values to live a fuller, more meaningful life? When you put the pieces together the picture can be quite beautiful! Life is to be lived on your terms, not the terms of others.


Gina Costa, CPC, ELI-MP is the founder of New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC, which helps women diagnosed with breast cancer cope, step by step, with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so they gain confidence and feel in control of their life again. To learn more about Gina and her coaching practice, visit http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

Source: http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

Affirmation Of The Day: “Treatment is happening on all levels, and my future is benefiting now!”

I found this affirmation and thought it was appropriate to share what came up for me around it. For most of my young adult life I thought I wasn’t good enough. Then I started to dig deep to find the answers why because I didn’t want to live in that space anymore. With the help of others and life experiences, I relearned that I was in fact good enough and my confidence started to build, even though I had always excelled at everything I did. However, now things were different, I felt I had a purpose in my life. I continued to work to bring my inner child to the surface and then another life event happened. My mother, my best friend, was diagnosed with late stage ovarian cancer. I did all I could to support her, going to doctors’ appointments with her, doing research on clinical trials at medical libraries in Manhattan in an effort to save her life when the statistics read differently for her disease. I was the buffer between her doctors receiving news that I didn’t want to fall on her ears. It just wasn’t necessary. I wanted her to live the time she had left in the moment and with dignity. At the end my sister and I decided to take her home to hospice to live her last days in the comfort of her home and after 2 days the way she passed will be forever etched in our minds. It was painful, yet beautiful at the same time.

So this is where I started to fully step into my passion. I started fundraising for women’s cancers and became quite successful at it. For me the greatest gift was touching others’ lives and creating connections that might not have been made if I hadn’t had the life experience that put me in this arena. I did this for years and then one day I thought I would stop since I figured I had done all I could in raising dollars for research and support of women’s cancers.

Shortly after, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer and I knew I couldn’t stop. A year later my own breast cancer diagnosis came all of the experiences that I had gone through with my mom, sister and myself lead me to becoming a life coach with a niche in working with women facing a cancer diagnosis and undergoing treatment.

Throughout my training and even in building my business I felt the old voices of “I’m not good enough” coming back and at times I wanted to give all of it up and throw the baby out with the bathwater. I internalized things and thought to myself: “I’m not good enough because if I managed my cancer journey so well, how could I think of serving others when I had not experienced some of the parts of their journey they had?” I was comparing myself to others and this was a huge mistake. I knew in my heart because of all I had been through I could inspire others. That had been my passion since I was a child.

It was at that time, and because of the benefit of my life experiences, coach training and the supportive individuals in my circle that I looked back at all of the events of my life and how I had inspired others with my strength. And that is where I came to the place where I fully realized that my life purpose was inspiring others as a survivorship coach and empowering women to get through fearful and overwhelming events of their lives and to educate and give them the tools to get rid of all of the “I’m not good enough” that resides in them so that they could rebuild their lives and create new beginnings during treatment and after cancer.

Clearly this has been a process for me over many years and I think I was finally able get to the place where I realized my purpose of inspiring others via the help of a friend and fellow coach. Knowing her and seeing all of the challenges she has gone through, far more than mine, and seeing her take one each punch, each step at a time with the will and determination and unstoppable attitude and knowing I could be by her side to love, inspire her and make her smile even brighter helped me seal the deal.

The win, win of this later experience has been that even in the face of her own adversity, she has managed to love, inspire and make me smile. We have been mirrors for each other and inspiring each other in ways we never imagined. We are 2 amazing coaches with the ability to inspire others in their journey like no others!


Gina Costa, CPC, ELI-MP is the founder of New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC, which helps women diagnosed with breast cancer cope, step by step, with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so they gain confidence and feel in control of their life again. To learn more about Gina and her coaching practice, visit http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

Source: http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/affir...

Cancer, It’s A Marathon, Not A Sprint!

When surgeries and treatment are over it’s time to embark on new territory. Adjusting to life after treatment can be challenging. Treatments and doctor visits stop and in some cases survivors can feel very alone and isolated. You can be left with the feeling of: “What direction do I go in now? I feel so lost!” These feelings and emotions that come up at this stage of the journey are completely valid and normal for what you are going through. Don’t forget, for the last year to two years you have probably been using all of the energy that you have to get from point “A” to “B” and all of your doctors, nurses and other caregivers have become your family over the months and years of treatment. So when the routine ends, of course you are left feeling a little bewildered as to where to turn next.

During this time, your relationships may have also changed along with other changes like career adjustments, eating and exercise habits. You may also be feeling fatigue as a result of anesthesia’s, chemotherapy or hormone therapies. Your energy and engagement definitely feel different as well.

Although this can feel like a downer to most survivors in that moment of discovery, the good news is that we all have choices and there are so many options open to us. Consider this a time for recreating your life and your perspective of how you view your life and how you want to live it moving forward. It is really all an education and growth process. Some of the choices that we can make from the “get go” are letting go of how you “used to do things”, e.g., constantly picking up around the house and making sure laundry is folded immediately and that the house is pristine or whatever your “used to be” modus of operation was. This is the time to learn to let go of the little things take the time to focus on what matters, mainly healing and living! Learn to ask for help, delegate to others and most of all exercise self-care! One of the best ways, aside of physical activity, to decrease fatigue is to decrease stress levels and this may mean doing less, or doing things differently and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can open you up to so much more of what you really want to do. You might also want to give yourself permission to take a break or nap or simply take some “alone” time for yourself to reflect on what is next for you.

I encourage my clients to take a look back and embrace how far they have come, then to look at their old way of doing things to see if those old thoughts and behaviors still serve them. In many cases, your eyes can be opened to a whole new way of living and you might even be wondering why you hadn’t made these choices in the past. The answer to that question really doesn’t matter, what matters is that you realize that you have these choices in the now are you are ready to start acting upon them.

Again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and the process can be an enlightening one! If you need support along the way, contact me!


Gina Costa, CPC, ELI-MP is the founder of New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC, which helps women diagnosed with breast cancer cope, step by step, with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so they gain confidence and feel in control of their life again. To learn more about Gina and her coaching practice, visit http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

Source: http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

New Beginnings After Breast Cancer - A Survivor's Story

So much comes up when we receive our initial cancer diagnosis. I remember receiving mine and I immediately reframed it to taking cancer out of the equation. I told my husband right there in the moment: “this isn’t cancer, this is the boob job I always wanted.” And yes, the tears definitely fell from my eyes throughout the experience, but I kept an Rx of humor in my back pocket along with many other coping skills I had collected over the years.

For me personally, I was able to embrace a positive mindset immediately because of the lengthy and rocky relationship I had with cancer. I was caregiver to my mother who died of complications of being treated with chemo for her stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2001. She passed away and 3 days later I gave birth to my first born. To say the least, this was a very dark period for me but when I came out of it I vowed to turn all of my negative life events into positive ones. This was a conscious choice that I made on how I wanted to live my life moving forward. It helped me shed so much of the negativity that surrounded me as a child. It further lead me to being very proactive in my own health, pursuing genetic testing and becoming a top individual fundraiser for women’s cancers for an organization based in NYC and LA. Then I had the experience of my sister being diagnosed with breast cancer and a year later I received the same diagnosis.

I had a lot of tools to get me through my diagnosis and treatment. However, I still went through the entire process. Initially, I had feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious, followed by doubt and a little depression which ultimately lead me to acceptance. I had doubts on what my life would look like “after cancer” and how people would receive me. Getting through and to all of these emotions is key to getting to a place of peace and acceptance. When you get to that point you are fully able to accept what has been placed on your doorstep so that you can put your efforts into working on what you can control in your life and letting go of what you can’t. What you can do is take control of your health and your life from this point on.

Giving up control of “doing it all” for the sake of others and getting support is also critical, followed by self-care. There is no other way to fully heal unless you learn to go down this path. So many of my clients have trouble giving up the old mindset of: “If I don’t do it myself, it won’t get done” or finally coming to the place where they realize everything they have done up until this point in their lives has been to please others and they rarely do anything for themselves first. They get to a place where they realize that it is “OK” to allow them to receive!

You see, with a cancer diagnosis, not only do thoughts and emotions come up around a diagnosis and treatment, they also come up about who you are at your core. I am not one to minimize the impact of a cancer diagnosis (I saw my mother through her last days in hospice, they are forever etched in my mind and I have had my own physical and emotional journey with breast cancer) but I try to help my clients come to a place where they can see the opportunity to create awareness of who they are,  how they are living and how they can use this life altering experiencing to reassess their lives to reduce stress which feeds not only physical healing but in the mind as well and making choices to pursue the life you have always wanted to live. This can include looking at yourself and why you act as you do on a deeper level, looking at your relationships to see which serve you and those that do not, looking at the patterns in your lifestyle that have kept you on the same page and left you wondering why you are still there and so much more. When you go to your core to find out who you really are vs. who you think you should be, magical things can happen.

The next step is taking action and making choices to change your life. The choice is yours!


Gina Costa, CPC, ELI-MP is the founder of New Beginnings Coaching Services, LLC, which helps women diagnosed with breast cancer cope, step by step, with the emotional and physical challenges they experience, so they gain confidence and feel in control of their life again. To learn more about Gina and her coaching practice, visit http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/

Source: http://www.newbeginningswithgina.com/