June 21, 2019 ~ Cancer Survivor Month
By: Marísa Bock, Founder
With this month’s cancer awareness, National Cancer Survivor Month, let us take a brief look at what it means to some to be a cancer survivor. I can only speak for myself and reflect on the thoughts and feelings I have had going through my own cancer survival journey, along with those that were shared with me by friends and clients who have also survived cancer.
Surviving Cancer – this phrase has a different meaning for everyone. To some, it could mean any of the following feelings and more:
- “Okay, yeah I survived cancer, but my life will never be the same and I don’t feel like me anymore.”
- “I survived, but…
- …now I am missing body parts. How can I feel whole again?”
- …I’m an amputee – I have prosthetics – I feel the loss of a normal body.”
- …I am embarrassed to show my body like ‘normal people’.”
- …it is difficult to see myself in the mirror.”
- …my scars are a constant reminder.”
- …I am always sad and depressed, often crying myself to sleep, even jealous of other people’s happy, normal lives.”
- …I am mad and question why I had to get cancer in the first place. What did I do to deserve all that pain and suffering?”
- …I feel like my friends and family members still treat me differently.”
- …I feel no one will want to date me/marry me.”
- …I am always going to feel like a cancer victim.”
- …I get tired of people asking me if I am going to wear cancer colors or do cancer walks, runs, etc.”
- …I just want to block it out of my mind – forget it even happened.”
- …I can’t get cancer out of my head, the nagging fear of it coming back and the destruction to my body it caused.”
- …how can I be happy if I am terrified I’ll get it again?”
- …why am I still sad and depressed when everyone tells me I should be happy and grateful?”
- … why did I survive when my friend died of cancer? I feel so guilty.
- “I survived and…
- …I fought hard and beat the cancer beast!”
- …it doesn’t define me!”
- …I am going to embrace life; appreciating every moment I can get!”
- …I am going to pay it forward to help other cancer fighters get through their cancer journey!”
These are just some of the more common thoughts and feelings of cancer survivors – there are many, many more.
So, how does one continue on with life after fighting cancer? Great question! There is no single and correct answer to that, as everyone finds their own path after surviving cancer. Some survivors never find a clear answer to that nagging question. Those that can find the strength from either within, with the help of family or friends, or from counseling, usually find their answer in one shape or another.
If you are on the winning side of the cancer battle and are now in survival mode, then now is the time to reflect on being positive and grateful that you are alive and healthy. You are a strong warrior, a hero, and yes, a survivor. Embrace it. I am not saying that you have to wear it on your sleeve as an emblem of your battle victory, no, not at all. I am saying that despite all that you have fought, endured, and learned about your cancer, you have come out of it a more amazing person than when you began. You are awesome! You are, in the eyes of many that know you and what you have been through, a strong, tough, and resilient fighter. And, believe it or not, you are admired for your strength.
Yes, that is right, I said admired. That sounds odd doesn’t it? Well, think about it. Before you had cancer, did you ever think you had the strength to fight a tough fight like cancer? I didn’t, and, many people I know didn’t, but when that cancer beast knocks on our door, we find an inner strength we never realized we had. It is truly amazing what we can do when all we have is our inner strength to fight.
So, now we are survivors. Life can sometimes be very gracious – serving up a large helping of second chances. What we do with those second chances is up to us. It is a journey that is as individual as each and every one of us.
If you fall in the first group of statements above, it is okay. Be at peace with yourself and your new journey in life. If you picked up your life where you left off before your cancer, but still have nagging feelings, it is normal. Give yourself some grace. Find your inner peace about it. If you find it difficult to deal with the aftermath of your fight, talk about it – to a caring family member, a caring friend, a support group, a counselor, etc. – but please know that it is okay to feel what you are feeling.
If you know someone that falls in that first group, it is also okay. Be there for them. Do the best you can to be understanding and patient with their progression. Let them feel and process their emotions – their anger, mourn their loss of body parts, their sadness, their sense of confusion. Know that cancer throws people in a blender of emotional confusion and it is one that is difficult to crawl out of. Be the supportive friend or loved one that pushes the off button and helps them find their way out.
When I was feeling my most unattractive due to my many scars from all the surgeries as the result of my cancer fight, a very kind person told me, “Do not be ashamed of your scars, they are the badges of honor you fought hard for, and they make you more beautiful inside and out.” Those very kind words resonated in me; touching me profoundly and have never left me. When I get feelings of sadness or doubt, I remember those words and they bring me happy tears. It is absolutely amazing how the kindness and encouraging words of others can have such an enduring effect on someone in need of hearing those words!
Cancer Survivor. No one wants to have that label, but having it is really a badge of great courage and determination, one that no one should be ashamed of. Let your badge nudge you into the next amazing chapter of your amazing life’s journey!
May 12, 2019 ~ Mental Health & Cancer
By: Chanel Salazar, Director of Blogging
We live in a world where it sometimes feels like we are just bodies full of energy getting by through life’s challenges. This life is tough. It can be lonely, it can be stressful, and it can be confusing, but our brain is the one thing that can keep us going forward or reversing backward. Think about a deadline at work or at school, it seems like juggling many tasks at once can be close to impossible, but somehow you can get through it by telling yourself, “It’s just one more day to get to the next step.” All these things can cause anxiety and depression and can put a huge strain on your mental health. But what if one day, through all that your life has given you, it makes a complete stop and there’s a chance you might not have that one more day?
Imagine sitting at the doctor’s office thinking that your one more day has a brighter tomorrow, that your one more day is part of your routine and will simply just be there. Then, the words “You have cancer” leave your doctor’s lips so slowly that time stops at that moment and your whole world turns upside down. The fear that whispered in your ear daily now is ringing in your mind like a cacophony of demons telling you that this will be the worst of you. It will test your strength, your happiness, your every aspect of life. This will put a huge hold on your mental stability, from being physically healthy to being weak from chemotherapy, radiation, medication, and surgery. Going through all this puts a huge strain on your mental well-being and is the last thing you want to overcome.
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month and here at Maribo Cares, we want you to know that we understand and care about whatever mental state you are in while going through your cancer journey. We have volunteers here to help; they do phone call check-ins and appointment reminders to help take the stress off your mind. They can also set up an availability time so you can call them when you need the mental boost and support to get you through. So first off, never feel guilty for what you feel. Accept that what you are feeling is okay. Feel it, marinate on it, mourn, and cry; then get up and know that this is just a roadblock to getting to the next level of your purpose in life. Instead of asking, “Why?” Say, “Okay, now what? What do I do to move forward and fight ten times harder?” Be the strong fighter you know you can be!
Now, let’s briefly look at what cancer fighters may deal with while going through their journey. There may be Chemotherapy, Radiation, Immunotherapy, and/or Surgery.
Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment that uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth and/or cell division. It may be given by mouth, by injections, by infusions, or applied topically on the skin. Chemotherapy may be given alone or with other treatments including surgery, radiation therapy, etc.
Radiation therapy treats cancer by using intense ionized radiation energy beams to kill cancer cells. X-ray beams are the more common form of Radiation therapy, but protons and other energy sources can also be used to kill the cancer cells as well.
These two common forms of cancer treatments seem like something that would come out of a comic book and naturally turn you into an instant superhero. These treatments literally strip your body to nothing. At times, they are killing pretty much all of the healthy tissue surrounding unhealthy cancer in your body just to rejuvenate it into a new one. This process is going to be hard for the person going through the treatments and also on the loved ones watching.
It is sad to say that a high percentage of people having a support group around them when they are in the “hype” of their cancer diagnosis and initial planning stages, end up being alone once things settle down – most times, that’s when having support really matters. Going through the after-effects of cancer causes a huge strain on fighters’ mental health. They feel alone and feel like they are left to mentally fight by themselves, or, they do not want to continue to “burden” the people who are there for them – family members and close friends.
During the recovery process, some cancer fighters get abandoned by many they thought would be there for them throughout the entire process. If you are dealing with cancer and feel this way, it is ESSENTIAL that you speak up to friends and family members. Here at Maribo Cares, we have volunteers that check-in with you. We call to let you know that we are there after everything has settled down. You don’t have to be strong all the time or feel like no one cares. There is always a Maribo Cares volunteer who will listen and be there for you.
Just know, cancer can mentally affect loved ones as well as cancer fighters. No one wants to see the ones they love go through something so unpredictable and scary without support. Mental health is real. What you are feeling is real. Do not hesitate to call us. We will keep your head above water and eventually pull you out so you can be mentally running free again. And if you feel you need additional mental health support, we will do our best to refer you to a qualified counselor.
So, if you are a newly diagnosed cancer patient or going through recovery, or are a family member that is dealing with someone who has cancer, we have tools and information that will empower you. At Maribo Cares we care about your mental health.
January 31, 2019 ~ Welcome From Our Founder, Marísa Bock
Hello, and welcome to our website! It’s a brand new year and a brand new restart to life in 2019. With all the resolutions out there that we try and follow, we realize by about the fourth week into the year, that we have already: eaten that piece of forbidden chocolate, sat in front of the TV instead of going for a power walk with the pooch, made excuses not to keep going to the gym, let our staying organized goals lag, and allowed our social media junkie side to come back – just to name a too-common few. Well, don’t beat yourselves up too much. Life happens!
Now you are back on social media and you have come across our brand new website. You sit, curiously looking through our pages and stumble across our blog. See, this is why I say to not beat yourself up too much – this could be fun for you! There will be entries here from our main blogger, but look out for my random cameo posts. (I have writing in my blood! Ha!)
If you don’t already know my backstory (oops, you didn’t read the Founder Page yet), here’s the nutshell-ish version:
I was diagnosed with beginning-stage breast cancer in January 2013. It moved very quickly, and by the skill of my awesome surgeon, two months later, I had a complete double mastectomy and my life was saved. Because of the fact that everything regarding my cancer journey happened so incredibly quick, I had no time to research and lock in any services that would assist me through recovery and beyond. Finding the lack of sufficient avenues of support very frustrating, along with hearing from friends going through their cancer journeys and dealing with their own frustrations due to the lack of services, I decided to make it my mission in life to change the game and make services more accessible to people going through the cancer recovery journey.
Let’s face it, cancer eats up the body, no question. However, what most people don’t know is that it also eats up a wallet! I feel that if people cannot afford to pay for needed services to make their recovery more bearable, then we need to step in and make sure they are taken care of. If we can provide a service that brings peace of mind, a smile to their face, or just makes them more comfortable while they recover – even for one day, then we have done a great thing.
So please, look around our website pages, see all the services we provide, see the awesome
businesses we have partnered with to provide those services, read some sweet testimonials, and just get to know us. We love being a part of a great cause that makes a huge, positive impact on the lives of cancer heroes. We are a charming group! (You’ll get the pun when you look through our pages!)
Remember, resolutions are a hopeful guide to a new you. Use gentle reminders to keep on track, don’t beat yourself up when you slack off a bit and give yourself props when you stay on track. Life is meant to be enjoyed – savor every moment! Our Maribo Cares resolution is to reach more cancer heroes in need and give them a positive and supportive experience with our services. Doing good for others feels AWESOME!
Thank you for stopping by, make sure to check on us regularly, and be sure to bookmark our page. We love being loved and we love sharing with everyone what’s new and happening!