What's Your Combine? Finding a sense of calm through A Time To Heal
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
I recently helped to facilitate our free cancer survivorship
program, A Time to Heal. As any teacher knows learning goes two
ways - from teacher to student…and from student to teacher.
Spending 12 weeks with a group of cancer survivors who are learning
to thrive after their diagnosis changes you. Sitting and listening
to the presenters each week, my little green notebook began to fill
up with suggestions for my own life: how to listen to my body, how
to control my mind when fears take over, how to take charge of what
I'm putting into my body and what I'm doing (or not doing) to keep
physically fit and healthy.
At each session I watched the participants, both cancer
survivors and their caregivers, begin to move forward and make a
plan. Making a plan requires looking ahead in your life, a big step
for a cancer survivor especially if they are not that far out of
treatment. Treatment is about killing cancer cells today, how you
are feeling today, and what you need to do to feel better - today.
The A Time To Heal curriculum helps a survivor to move beyond
"today" and look forward to a new "tomorrow". The survivor and
their caregiver create a plan for how they see "their best life".
They come to terms with what has happened to them and learn many
tips and tricks to help them in their new lives.
One of my favorite parts of the class is sitting around the
table and guiding the participants as they share their journeys:
the highlights of their past week, the troubles that may have
arisen, the change they've noticed in a particular relationship,
the fear of the next scan. Slowly, week by week, this collection of
cancer survivors and caregivers becomes a support group, not just a
learning environment. Each one inspires another. They have all been
changed by cancer, and sometimes even for the better.
On a dreary November day, I watched a fall session graduate. To
quote one participant, "I feel like a whole other person - I can
handle it now!" Caring warmth radiated from the entire group as
each participant shared one important step from their action plan
-changes they will make one step at a time. They had found
their sense of calm.
So why did I ask you what is your combine? On that same dreary
November day, I also attended a six-month reunion party. A nearly
full class reconvened to share stories and laughter and support
each other once again. One participant brought starter plants for
everyone as she had renewed her love of growing things. She also
started painting again and brought her resurrected garden art piece
for all to see. One participant shared the news that her cancer had
metastasized but she had peace about it. After work, when her
thoughts were getting the best of her, she'd call her boyfriend. He
was out working in his combine and he'd let her know where he was.
She would find him, climb in, they would talk, and eventually she
would be lulled to sleep by the combine's engine as it moved along
row after row. Peace in the combine.
We all need a "combine" in our lives. Some of us look in the
wrong places for peace and contentment in our trials. I'm
privileged to facilitate a class that helps survivors find their
"combine" and move forward in their lives. We've just completed a
spring session and held the fall reunion party, and at times the
sessions were difficult to fit into my "schedule". But I'm working
on shifting my priorities, making ATTH a priority, and remembering
the lessons I learn from the participants. And I've determined
helping families on the cancer journey is my
Registration is now open for the fall session of this free
cancer survivorship program, A Time To Heal - visit /local-events for more information or call
Nurse Direct at 1-800-362-9900. The session runs from August
29-November 14 and will be located at the Menasha Corporation
Community Room in Neenah. The program is open to individuals from
all health systems.
Executive Director of HOPE Cancer Connection and Facilitator for A
Time To Heal