Living well

Living well means more than looking after your health.

It means understanding that there is still life to be lived by finding pleasure in small moments that may or may not be related to cancer. It means looking for peace and acceptance in times of uncertainty. Making each moment of your life count and getting the most from every experience – that’s living well. You prepare for the future and accept what the future brings.

Each person finds their own way to live well. You may choose to take time to be in nature, to meditate or quietly reflect. Others make the most of life with special trips or adventures. You may find that creating art to express who you are is the best way for you to live well.

Finding meaning

Being diagnosed with advanced cancer can challenge many beliefs that you have had in your life. You may wonder “why me?” or wonder what the purpose of living with cancer might be.

Finding that meaning is a deeply personal process. For some people, it means quiet, solitary reflection, while others look to a spiritual leader for guidance.

As you move forward, you may connect more deeply with people in your life, spend more time with them and tell them how important they are to you. Some people go back to visit places that had special meaning in their life or go on a trip they’ve wanted to take for many years. You may try to talk to or visit old friends that you have lost contact with over the years. You may want to heal a relationship that has been difficult or awkward, clear up past arguments or misunderstandings and talk about hurt feelings to find peace with someone again.

Life review therapy

A life review means looking back on your life and perhaps talking about it with another person. Life reviews are usually done with a therapist who is trained in life review therapy (sometimes called reminiscence therapy).

Through a life review, you can explore every part of your life so far – your childhood, your loves, your family, career, health and sexuality. You can think back to the important moments and people in your life and how, together, all of these make you who you are today.

Life reviews can be hard work. They take honest and deep reflection on who you are and how you came to be that person. Confusing and difficult feelings of grief, guilt, regret and shame can be mixed with pride, gratitude and joy. Often, a life review can help you make sense of your thoughts and emotions. It can be an important part of bringing your life to a meaningful close and remembering the many ways in which your life has had value and meaning.

Celebrating your life

If you prefer not to do a formal life review, you can find other ways to celebrate your life and appreciate your accomplishments, either alone or with family and friends. You can talk about your memories, look through photo albums or old letters, create a family tree or history or express yourself creatively with poems, music, artwork or scrapbooks. Some people make audio or video recordings. You can make a memory box to hold mementoes such as photos or objects that were special or unique to you. These can help people remember you and take your memory forward.

Medical disclaimer

The information that the Canadian Cancer Society provides does not replace your relationship with your doctor. The information is for your general use, so be sure to talk to a qualified healthcare professional before making medical decisions or if you have questions about your health.

We do our best to make sure that the information we provide is accurate and reliable but cannot guarantee that it is error-free or complete.

The Canadian Cancer Society is not responsible for the quality of the information or services provided by other organizations and mentioned on, nor do we endorse any service, product, treatment or therapy.

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