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Monday, November 07, 2011

Positive Thinking - Find Something Positive to Focus on

Coping Mechanisms continued:

1.      Find something positive to focus on.

You will be spending plenty of time at hospitals, doctor’s offices and feeling lousy during your journey. Ensure you have something positive to focus on a daily basis to help keep your mind off all your treatments and side effects.

For me, I started the Shoot for the Cure fundraiser which kept me surrounded by positive people and energy, as well as the positive feeling of control and satisfaction that I was doing something to help all cancer patients.

Whatever it is you’re focused on doesn’t have to be big – it just has to be something positive that you’re excited about. What positive thing do you have to focus on every day? And if you don’t have one, what can you think of now.

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Raising money for cancer research to help other cancer patients was a very fulfilling activity to help me stay positive and get through my cancer.

Have a happy, healthy and fulfilling week!

Shawnda

 

Posted by Shawnda Muir at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Monday, October 31, 2011

Positive Thinking – Look for the Silver Linings

Coping mechanisms continued:

  

2.   Look for the silver linings.

Every challenge has a silver lining, even though it may be hard to find.  It may be your new appreciation for life or your family and friends, increased ability to handle the unknowns, or increased patience levels. 

There were many silver linings with my cancer journey, starting with more time with my kids, learning how to be happy on a daily basis even when I wasn’t in control of the variables, right thru to cancer being the catalyst to spark positive changes in my life, including leaving my corporate job so I can live in better harmony with my principles, priorities and passions. In essence, living my ideal life so I will have no regrets should cancer come back.

Take a minute now to think of the challenges in your life and what are their silver linings?

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Spending extra time with my family during my year of medical leave from work was definitely a silver lining for me!

Have a happy, healthy and fulfilling week!

Shawnda

 

Posted by Shawnda Muir at 12:00 AM 0 Comments

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Positive Thinking – Worst/Best Case Scenario

There are many techniques or coping mechanisms for remaining positive that I used during my cancer journey. Let’s review them now and see how you can use them to help you stay focused on the positives in your situation.

  1. Determine the worst case scenario and how you would handle it. Then focus on the best case scenario. 

    We used this strategy several times during our cancer journey, starting with my husband Darryl’s diagnosis. Darryl dying was the worst case scenario. How would I handle it? Did we need to make changes to our will and life insurance? Once we addressed the key items under our control, and I realized I could survive if the worst case scenario happened, then we focused all our energy on positive thinking and Darryl living – the best case scenario. 

    What is the worst case scenario of your challenge? How would you handle it? Then what is your best case scenario? Stay focused on this best case.

 

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Darryl’s first chemo appointment coincided with my dad’s  biopsy appointment at the same hospital.

Have a happy, healthy and fulfilling week!

Shawnda

Posted by Shawnda Muir at 1:46 PM 0 Comments

Monday, October 17, 2011

Think Positively

Anyone not had a challenge in life so far? Didn’t think so. Unfortunately, life will deal all of us many challenges. But I’m a firm believer that having a positive attitude will help you survive your challenges much better. Surround yourself with positive people. Look for the silver lining in every situation as my family has.

While thinking positive may not always result in the outcome you hope for, it will at least help the journey be more enjoyable.

For the most part, you have no control over being diagnosed with cancer (or other illnesses or tragedies). But you do have control over your thinking as you progress through your cancer journey. Find ways to remain positive.

Research reveals that negative thinking uses three times as much energy as positive thinking, so save your energy for what really matters by focusing on positive thinking.

Research also indicates you attract into your life the people and circumstances that are in harmony with your dominant thoughts. So make those dominant thoughts positive.

Let’s look at an example. I recently bought a new car – A Ford Edge. I didn’t even know this car existed before I started shopping, and then all of a sudden after shopping and buying the car, I noticed at least five Ford Edges every day. The number of Ford Edges did not increase significantly in that one week period, but what did increase were my thoughts about this car, and so in return, I noticed and attracted these cars.

The same attraction applies in all other aspects of our lives, which is why it is so important to think positively, because then you will attract more positive energy and results into your life. 

Finally, research suggests that 40% of your happiness level is determined by your intentional activity – such as attitude and behavior.  That’s great news, as you can control up to 40% of your happiness. (50% is determined by your genes and heredity, and the remaining 10% is determined by your life circumstances.)

So the bottom line of all this research is that it is to your benefit to remain positive as much as possible!

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Have a happy, healthy and fulfilling week!

Shawnda

 

 

 

Posted by Shawnda Muir at 7:58 PM 0 Comments

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Three Lessons for a Happy, Healthy and Fulfilling Life

Those were very impactful words of advice I was given by my cancer doctor (see last blog post). The question is, how do you take action on them?

 

The answer is simple—one step at a time. And that is where the lessons I learned come into play. I’ve summarized them to the three key lessons that helped me, and I truly believe can help you too ensure you are happy, healthy and living your life to the fullest – in other words, with no regrets should cancer (or any illness or tragedy) enter or return to your life.

1.      Think Positively – to more easily overcome obstacles and achieve your desires.

2.      Take care of yourself first – to live longer and better manage the stress and challenges of your day.

3.      Live Your Ideal Life

·         Know what you want – in all key areas of your life including your career

·         Focus on what you want – on a daily basis

·         Get what you want – by relaxing and being open to opportunities that arise around you.

In the next few blog postings, I will touch on these lessons.  My book, Cancer Scores a Hat Trick provides more detail including an action guide on all these lessons.

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 Have a happy, healthy & fulfilling week!  

 Shawnda

 

Posted by Shawnda Muir at 11:18 PM 0 Comments

Monday, September 26, 2011

Profound Words of Advice

Some of the most profound words that my cancer doctor said to me at the end of my chemo and radiation treatments were “Now that your major treatments are completed, go live your life in such a way that should your cancer come back, you will have no regrets.  And if there are items on your bucket list, don’t wait; start working on them now.”

 

Little did I know then that this advice would be tested three short years later.

Imagine being told you have cancer and only six months to live. Would you feel peaceful and fulfilled with your current life, or would you be panicked and have regrets with how you’ve been spending your time?

Take some time to think about this:

·         Are you spending enough time with your loved ones and friends?

·         Are you taking good care of yourself?

·         Are you happy with your work/life balance?

·         Are you working on your bucket list items?

Yes, those were some profound words of advice I was given by my doctor, and some tough questions I just asked you. Luckily I have never been told that I only have six months to live. But I have had my fair share of cancer diagnoses in my family. And those are the same questions I ask myself on a regular basis now to ensure I am living my life with no regrets. The answers did not used to be so rosy. But I can honestly say that at this moment, I feel more happy, peaceful and content than I ever have, thanks to the lessons learned from my cancer journey.

If you answered yes to all the questions, then congratulations! You are living your best life possible. If you answered no to any of the questions, though, please take time now to make any required changes so you will have no regrets later.

Spending time with my family at the lake.

Have a happy, healthy and fulfilling week!

Shawnda

Posted by Shawnda Muir at 10:12 PM 0 Comments

Monday, September 19, 2011

Challenging and Positive Moments

There were many challenges during my journey, such as:

  • My spouse telling me he had cancer – and fighting off the panic and fear.
  • Lying in bed discussing the worst case scenario – my husband dying, and how I’d survive on my own. Financially? Emotionally?
  • Telling our children their father had cancer.  Would they fall apart like I imagined I would have at their age?
  • Sitting at my dad’s side when the doctor said, “Do you understand you’re going to die shortly from this cancer – you cannot beat it”?   I still get a lump in my throat thinking of that moment, as I fought back the tears.
  • Telling our children that now, I had cancer too? How would they react knowing both parents could die?
  • Struggling with the question “Why?” Why three cancer diagnoses in one family in six months? What message from up above was I not getting?

But there were also many positives:

·         In February 2008, while undergoing chemotherapy treatments, I organized a community hockey and ringette fundraiser called Shoot for the Cure, that raised $135,000 for cancer research. Not only was this fundraiser a tremendous success, it was also my primary coping mechanism for keeping me positive and my mind off my treatments. I continue to lead this fundraiser annually, raising over $250,000 to date.

·         And then I will forever treasure the one year of time with my kids while I was on my sick leave. For the first time in their lives, I was home to see them before school. And that summer, I was able to spend the full two months with them at the lake, playing games, golf, and water sports for hours on end. (I really think I should win the mom of the year award, for driving the boat while they tubed for the hours in all weather conditions – sun, rain, wind, and bugs!)

But these postings are not just about me. There are also about you. They are about taking what life hands you and looking for the positives. They are about learning how to increase your happiness, even in the face of adversity and when you don’t have control of all the variables. And, they are about living your life to the fullest, so you will have no regrets should cancer or any other tragedy or illness enter or return to your life.

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The whole community got behind the Shoot for the Cure fundraiser.

Have a happy, healthy and fulfilling week!

Shawnda

 

Posted by Shawnda Muir at 5:13 PM 0 Comments

Monday, September 12, 2011

2nd Cancer Diagnosis - Skin Cancer

While my breast cancer diagnosis completed the hat trick in my family in 2007, my story continues, as I was just diagnosed in May 2011 with malignant melanoma which is an aggressive form of skin cancer. Fortunately, it too was caught early with surgery this time being the only treatment required.

I know the summer is almost over, but I feel compelled to share this email that I sent out to family and friends back in May soon after being diagnosed with my second cancer. The information is important when out in the sun, any time of the year (yes – even when on those hot winter vacations).

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May 19, 2011

Muir update – prevention and early detection are key!

Hello friends.

Just thought I’d share my latest update as the May long weekend, summer and the sun finally approach.

How is this for weird luck? Yesterday I found out I tested positive for skin cancer (once again no family history) and today am going in for more surgery.

Background – last fall at my regular dermatologist appointment (which was scheduled following my breast cancer treatments to watch some moles on my back), I mentioned I had a new mole. The doctor looked at it and while he didn’t think it was a concern, decided to be cautious and sent me to a surgeon to have it removed. It was removed in early February. Then when I called in for the pathology results a few weeks later, they said my records were “temporarily” lost, but not to worry, the doctor would have contacted me if anything serious. She would call me as soon as my file was located, which I never did hear back from.  Anyway, this last weekend my sister insisted I follow-up to get my results. I called in this week. My file was still lost, but they eventually got a copy of the report, only to call me back and say the doctor needed to see me asap (they were supposed to have called me back in two months ago if it wouldn't have been lost). I went in to see him yesterday morning, where I found out I tested positive for malignant melanoma - skin cancer.   Of all the luck!

The good news is it was caught early. I do have to go back today for additional surgery to get bigger margins (and take off three other moles while they are at it), but hopefully that will be it.

 

Coincidentally, when I told my boys last night, Justin said his teacher had just shown them a You-Tube video that afternoon on melanoma aimed at 16 year olds.  Sure hit home with both my boys. So hopefully that will make them think twice next time they go out in the sun and forget to put on their sun screen.  If you have kids, please show this video to them (and watch yourself). Apparently, if you get one bad sun burn before 18 years old, you are twice as likely to get skin cancer later on in life.

 

Anyway, life is still great and from every experience there are lessons to be learned:

·         Always track the results to a conclusion - no news is not always good news

·         Ensure you do what you can to prevent skin cancer and keep an eye on any existing moles you may have.

·         Here are some good websites with the important signs to look out for, prevention techniques etc. Like everything else, early detection is key!

o   Melanoma defined

o   Symptoms

o   Screening tools – abcde

o   Reduce your risk

·         As always, remember to take time to appreciate life, family and friends today. You never know what tomorrow may bring.

·         Further justification why our cancer fundraising dollars continue to be needed.

 

I am lucky. Due to my previous cancer, the doctor’s & I have been keeping a close watch on my moles, and this one was caught early. Other people are not so lucky.

Please take the time to read this information and follow prevention techniques (where sunscreen, hats that cover the ears, sunglasses, avoid sun if possible between 10-4 etc.) and do regular screening, following the abcde guideline.

And please forward this on to help educate other family and friends.

Have a great summer everyone!

Shawnda and family

sunset

Watching a beautiful sunset at our cottage is one of my favorite ways to slow down and appreciate life.

Have a happy, healthy and fulfilling week!

Shawnda

 

Posted by Shawnda Muir at 11:25 AM 0 Comments

Monday, September 05, 2011

Cancer Hat Trick

When you hear the word hat trick, what do you think of? Most people think of three of a kind – such as three goals in hockey or soccer.
Now imagine a different kind of hat trick. Three cancer diagnoses in one immediate family in six months. First your spouse, then a parent and then yourself.
How would you handle this challenge? Would you crumble to pieces and fall apart? Or would you look for the silver linings of your situation, ultimately achieving a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life and with no regrets should cancer, or any other illness or tragedy enter your life?
In this blog site, I will describe how I survived my cancer hat trick in 2007, and have found a way to live my ideal life so I had no regrets when I received my second cancer diagnosis in 2011.
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My story starts in 2007, when the year began full of hope for a wonderful year ahead. My life was typical of many average families living a happy and hectic life. I had a successful career, a happy marriage, two wonderful boys (aged 10 and 11 at the time) and lived in the town of Oak Bluff, Manitoba, Canada near the farm I grew up on. Both of my sons were busy with their school and extra-curricular activities – including hockey, the family passion.
But the anticipation of a positive and happy new year lasted about six weeks. Then everything changed.
My husband Darryl was first diagnosed with testicular cancer in February. Then six weeks later, on my husband’s first day of chemo, my dad was diagnosed with an aggressive form of Lymphoma called Burkett’s and died 3 weeks later, 3 days before my mom’s 65th birthday. Finally, summer arrived. Darryl’s chemo was done, my dad’s funeral was over, and we were just starting to enjoy some much needed relaxation at our cottage when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, eventually requiring a lumpectomy, chemo, radiation, Herceptin and tamoxifen treatments. My two boys were devastated but we all remained positive, and Darryl and I both survived our treatments.
Sucking on popsicles during chemo treatments helped prevent mouth blisters. rad
I went for daily radiation treatments for six weeks.
Have a happy, healthy and fulfilling week!
Shawnda
Posted by Shawnda Muir at 8:00 AM 0 Comments