Last year, Stone Fox Mama Bonnie McLean, adrenaline junkie Network News Producer and mother of two learned there was a tumor the size of an IPhone sitting in between her lungs. Fourteen months, and endless rounds of chemo, radiation, and now a stem cell transplant later, she’s spending the holidays at UCLA hospital and sorting out how stay grateful and grounded without losing her mind. Her nine tips for maintaining some semblance of sanity in the face of cancer’s chaos below.
1. Try to meditate. I was never a mellow yogi but the past few months I have meditated almost daily. It helps me carry some of the calm with me. A few of my favorite apps: Oman, Simply Being, Buddhify, Insight Timer, Dharma Seed and IChill.
2. Be kind to yourself. This is a hard one for me.
3. Ask for help. Tell the people you love that you need their help. I am so used to going at it full force and doing so much that I forgot to tell the people I love, particularly my husband, how much I need him by my side. The more support I have, the better I feel.
4. Make the most of all your moments. Cancer has a way of making even the most mundane moments seem full of meaning. I did this before I left for the hospital and now that I’m here even the simplest photo of my kids that my husband sends me while I’m away brings me tremendous joy and meaning
5. Balance is key. Filling your days with activities is not the answer.
6. Accept that your life can’t be the way it was. I sometimes mourn the freedom that came with never being ill. Part of being kind to my body and hoping that cancer never returns is attempting to really be thoughtful in what I put in myself and trying my best to eat well and be healthy.
7. Stay in the day. Sometimes I go on the internet and fall down a rabbit hole of googling cancer things and worry about everything, but after five minutes I get off and return to the present. Thinking about anything other than the present moment is way too overwhelming. The goal is to accept the unknown.
8. A tiny bit of competitiveness is ok — as long as I am simply pushing myself to be my best. For example, every afternoon I walk about eight miles in the hallways of the cancer ward. There are many other patients constantly walking the halls and when I see them I find myself falling into a familiar pattern of wanting to walk faster or trying to pass them. There is a particularly fast patient named Boris who tempts me with his quick gait but I try to not let it bother me. One day I didn’t walk and it was ok. When I walk the halls it’s to combat nausea and get a little sunshine from the one giant window I pass on the way.
9. Last, I know it’s cheesy, but true laughter really is the best medicine. I have hilarious conversations with close friends who check in daily and despite where I am and what’s happening, the belly laughs are a game changer.