Are You Surviving or Thriving Beyond Treatment?

anxiety chronic stress difficulty paying attention inability to relax memory loss overwhelm reactive behavior survival mode surviving thriving treatment triggers trouble sleeping
 

Thriving Beyond Breast Cancer Treatment: A Journey to Hope

Hello there and welcome to this week's Wellbeing Wednesdays, our journey to thriving. Today we're diving into a topic that’s close to many of our hearts—surviving versus thriving beyond breast cancer treatment.

Settle in, get cozy, because today’s discussion might just light up a few bulbs in your mind.

Chances are, if you’re joining me, you’ve been through quite an ordeal, fighting breast cancer like the badass that you are. Even the strongest among us can find ourselves stuck in survival mode, feeling like we’re barely keeping our heads above water. I know what that feels like.

You might hear a little voice inside asking, "What choice did I have but to fight? What choice did I have but to pull up my big girl panties and get through this?" And you’re right. In those moments, the choice is to fight or not fight.

Most of us choose to fight, and that’s why you’re here today.

 

Survival mode makes sense during treatment. We are in fight, flight, freeze, or fawn responses—our body's natural reactions to trauma.

But survival mode isn’t just about getting through the treatment; it’s about living in a state of constant stress, hypervigilance, and overwhelm, feeling like you’re always on edge.

This state drains our precious energy, affecting us physically, mentally, and emotionally.

As a health coach specializing in working with breast cancer survivors and as a survivor myself, I’ve seen firsthand how survival mode impacts every aspect of life—from sleep and memory to our ability to relax and enjoy the present moment. It can even affect our risk of recurrence.

 

I remember how I felt after my diagnosis in 2018. Every hospital visit, every scan, every doctor’s appointment brought intense anxiety. I used every tool I had—CBD oil, breathing exercises, mindfulness—but I still felt anxious.

If this resonates with you, you’re not alone.

Many of us remain in survival mode even after treatment ends.

Today, I’ll share seven signs that might indicate you’re still in survival mode and some tips to help you start thriving.

 

Recognizing Survival Mode: The Signs

1. Trouble Sleeping: Your mind races as soon as your head hits the pillow, and even when you manage to sleep, you wake up exhausted.

This lack of deep, rejuvenating sleep leaves you drained and unable to recover.

 

2. Feeling Overwhelmed: Your to-do list feels endless, and for every task you complete, three more appear. You juggle appointments, treatments, family obligations, and work, constantly feeling overbooked and stressed.

Overwhelm can make you feel like you’re drowning in tasks and responsibilities, adding to your stress.

 

3. Anxiety About the Future: Constant worry about what’s coming next keeps you in a state of fear and anxiety, whether it’s doctor’s appointments, treatments, or daily tasks.

This anxiety prevents you from living in the present moment, which is essential for thriving.

 

4. Being Reactive: Your emotions are on a roller coaster—one minute you’re fine, and the next, you’re snapping at loved ones or bursting into tears.

This emotional volatility makes you feel like you’re just reacting to life rather than living it.

 

5. Memory Loss: Your memory feels like Swiss cheese. You forget things mid-sentence, misplace items, and struggle to focus.

This memory loss can be frustrating and affect your confidence and daily functioning.

 

6. Difficulty Paying Attention: You find it hard to concentrate, whether in meetings or during social interactions, as your mind is always elsewhere.

This lack of focus can affect your performance at work and your enjoyment of social activities.

 

7. Inability to Relax: Even during downtime, you can’t relax. There’s always something else to do, and the thought of stopping feels like giving up, or letting people down.

This constant busyness prevents you from recharging and enjoying life.

 

Breaking Free: Steps Towards Thriving

1. Become Aware of Your Triggers: Triggers can be anything from the color pink to TV shows mentioning cancer. Recognizing what sets off your stress response is the first step.

Pay attention to your heart rate and physical reactions. Simply acknowledging these triggers can lessen their impact.

 

2. Recognize Your Automatic Responses: Our trauma responses are automatic. Whether you fight, flee, freeze, or fawn, these reactions are ingrained.

Notice how you respond to stress. Do you get angry, try to control everything, or isolate yourself? Understanding these responses can help you manage them better.

 

3. Ask Yourself What You Need to Feel Safe: Feeling safe is crucial for moving out of survival mode.

Identify what helps you feel secure—whether it’s a hug, breath work, talking to a friend, or a walk in nature. Prioritize these activities to create a sense of safety.

 

Martha's Story: From Survival to Thriving

Let me share a short story about one of our thrivers, Martha.

When Martha and I first met, she was terrified of getting sick again because she felt she couldn’t face another fight.

We realized that she had spent most of her life in fight mode, thinking it was just part of her personality.

But once she learned that it didn’t have to be this way, everything changed. Martha embraced the fact that not everything needs to be a fight.

She now makes choices and uses words and actions that align with the peaceful, healthy life she desires. She’s excited for her future because she’s found space to think clearly and grow.

 

Embrace Thrivership

You didn’t come this far to just survive. You’re here to thrive, to do great things, and to savor every moment of this beautiful life.

Breaking free from survival mode won’t happen overnight, but it is possible with time, patience, self-compassion, and a proven roadmap.

Remember, you are stronger than you know. Surround yourself with love and support, lean on your community, and never forget that brighter days are ahead. You’ve got this!

 

If you want to learn more about Thrivership School and the Crazed to Calm Method, book a free call with me, and let’s see if Thrivership School is the right fit for you.

Together, we can move from surviving to thriving.

 

Thank you for joining me today, and I look forward to seeing you next week for our next journey to thriving. Take care and be well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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