It is extremely difficult to reenter the world and normal life after battling lymphoma. Recovery is much more than the body's physical battle, but how to balance emotions and relationships as well.
However, there are specific tools that can assist in adapting back into a life that may seem changed.
Manage your fatigue
Often, we feel that we are at our worst when we are tired without even being cognizant of our fatigue. It is important to know when overwhelming emotions are caused by tiredness instead of fear and anxiety. A lack of sufficient rest can lead to stress, which heightens the burdens of recovery, and makes them sometimes appear insurmountable.
Sometimes during recovery people feel as if they have "something to prove" and don't want to rest or sufficiently take care of themselves; but resting is not a weakness. Re-energizing your body is powerful and will lead to a faster recovery.
However, this does not mean to take naps and never exercise. Rest regularly and sleep well, but do not nap for long periods of time as that can negatively alter sleep schedules. Exercise and activities are important because they can keep you energized, as long as you don't overexert yourself. Walking and light weight lifting are usually good exercises, but make sure you talk over your exercise habits with your doctor. Having enough exercise will cause a healthy kind of tiredness at the end of the day, leading to positive sleep patterns.
Maintain a healthy diet
Eating properly is one of the most important things to keep track of. Exercising can help maintain a healthy appetite. It is best to eat small meals often that are high in protein and fiber, as opposed to too many carbs or sugar. Your doctor can often help design a specific meal plan to make you feel your best.
In terms of drinks, while water is good to nourish the body, it's also important to drink juices in order to attain "good" calories, but make sure they don't have added sugars. A balanced diet can help regulate emotions as well as physical health attributes. Physically, eating properly will also improve skin color and hair texture.
Take control of your self image
After lymphoma treatment, many people don't recognize themselves physically. This can be demoralizing and scary for many, but don't forget that this situation is in your hands. Self image is difficult before or after lymphoma, and there are ways to take control of it.
Make sure that you are wearing clothes that are flattering on your body, and make sure that the fabrics will be kind on your skin, such as cotton. Dress in colors that you find yourself attractive in, and try different things! Bare in mind that what you found attractive on you previously may not be the same thing you feel confident in now- but that doesn't mean something else will be! It is often a good rule of thumb to stray from white or nude colors or overly baggy clothing, as they may emphasize the look of "illness" or "weakness." However, if those are your favorite colors- wear what you want! Your confidence will radiate as the most flattering attire possible. Asking friends and family for advice on what to wear can be beneficial both in looking your best and spending time with others.
Don't only focus on what you wear out of the house, also make a point to enjoy what you wear when it's only you. This will help your self image and excite you about your new items of clothing you get to wear just for yourself- from new socks to a stunning nightgown.
It is also necessary to give yourself positive affirmations daily. This may be hard at times, but over time it will become easier. Each day, point out something your find aesthetically pleasing about yourself, from something small like liking your eye color to something big like being overwhelmed by how great you look that day. It is best to start your day out with these comments toward yourself, letting yourself live the whole day in that confidence. If you find yourself thinking negatively, make sure to always find a positive thought to counter it with. Even if you can't convince yourself that there's anything attractive, which there most certainly is, there is power in "faking it until you make it." Pretend that you are the most good-looking you've ever been, and your mood will lift, resulting in a positive glow no short of beauty.
Invest in your relationship
Lymphoma takes a toll on everyone who is affected by it, especially loved ones and partners. Unfortunately, it also makes it seem as if relationships have changed from romance to care taking. Sometimes relationships need to recover along with people; however, this can prove to be a positive chance to step forward, even after all the hardship you have both endured.
It is important to discuss how you are feeling with your partner, and keep open lines of communication. There will be lots to talk about from simple needs to reentering a dialogue of physical intimacy, which may seem foreign now where it once felt natural. Regardless of what is being said, always be clear that it comes from a place of love and care.
One way to find your way back to what once felt normal is simply to discuss what you used to do. Where were your favorite places to go? What kind of food did you like to eat most? Simple questions like these can be fun to think back to, and easy to recreate. When following an outline of what you've already done together, things will begin to seem natural between the two of you again.
Engage in activities
Think of your old favorite activities. Regardless of what they were, try to see if you can do them again. If you had a "normal routine" you would do every day, get back into it! Recovery can appear extremely daunting when looked at as a whole, but when you take small bits of what you used to do and recreate them, it will not be nearly as hard as it seems. Of course, if you are planning to engage in rigorous activity, you should consult your doctor.
After enduring something like lymphoma, you will likely feel that others cannot understand you. This is entirely plausible, as many have not endured it, but it is important to find other ways to connect to people or you will begin to feel ostracized. Sometimes people find gathering around a specific hobby, be it sewing or WWE, can be best, as even though you have just experienced something others haven't, you can still connect over something you equally enjoy and participate in. It is of the utmost importance to be patient with those in your community, your friends, and your family, even when it feels like they haven't experienced anything like you have and don't understand what something so serious is like. If you talk to them openly, you may find they understand more than you think. Bare in mind people care about you and are willing to assist in your recovery in whatever way they can.