5 Ways You Can Have an Impact on Your Chronic Illness Experience

May 25, 2023

Thank goodness I have multiple sclerosis (MS). 

I never thought I would say that. Especially just after being diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.

There is no denying MS has complicated dealing with cancer, from the options of treatments to my bodys ability to cope with another disease. Dealing with the shock of a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis has also diverted my attention away from MS. This has definitely impacted my strength and mobility over the past year.

At times dealing with two significant illnesses can feel too much. Emotionally it can be tough.

So you must be thinking, then why am I grateful for MS?

I have already written my own story. I have discovered that even in the darkest moments, I can have an impact on my experience with MS. Ive learnt how to cope with the stress of medical tests, dealing with medical appointments and the emotional overwhelm of lying in a hospital bed terrified about my prognosis. But Ive also discovered how to still embrace life and live well, despite the onslaught of challenges I face.

I even shared my story and insights about MS in my book years ago – Life Interrupted, My journey from hurdle to hope

Yes, MS is a totally different disease to cancer. But both have no cure and are chronic conditions. And both have to deal with me. A mindset that knows it can have an impact on every challenge that comes my way.

That’s why I'm more excited than ever to share my mindset insights with you. I know they can provide valuable support regardless of the specific illness you may be living with.



5 ways you can start impacting your experience with chronic illness

Here are five of the insights that I've drawn upon since being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, and my hope is that they can help you too.


1. Embrace the full spectrum of emotions

In living with chronic illness you don't have to be positive all the time. In fact, it's actually important to acknowledge and validate all emotions, positive and negative. As I always say, feel the feels. No need to ignore them.

In living with MS, I was worried that feeling sad or upset would open the floodgates. That I wouldn't be able to keep moving forward. But I learnt it's actually the opposite. Feeling and sharing your emotions with others helps to build emotional resilience. You are then in a better place to face the challenges ahead. I promise you, when I hung up the phone after my mastectomy was cancelled as my cancer had spread, my tears of fear were free-flowing. But I was then more emotionally prepared for an appointment with my new oncologist.


2. Cultivate a supportive community

Having a supportive network is crucial in living well with chronic illness. Healthcare professionals whose opinions you value and trust. Friends and family members that energise rather than drain you. And that also holds true for online support groups. As I've previously written about, use your intuition to create the network that will help you to move forward.

In living with MS, I initially met people whose bleak attitude to life then reflected their approach to illness. This added to my sense of hopelessness. With Stage 4 breast cancer, I have made sure I'm part of online communities that share similar outlooks on illness but also life. (If you are looking for a supportive group sign up for Hurdle2Hope below ❤️)


3. Become your own biggest advocate

Don't be afraid to express your needs, concerns, and emotions to those around you, especially in the medical world. As this can be a daunting place to find yourself.  I know that early on with MS, I found this extremely difficult when lying in a hospital bed. I didn't have the confidence to advocate for myself, to voice my concerns when a treatment didn't feel right. Whereas, over the years, I became more involved in my medical care, asking questions and ensuring I was comfortable with how my condition and I as a person was being treated.

Cancer is a world I never thought I would have to deal with. But I now know how important it is to effectively communicate with all the health care professionals.

Keep in mind that the individuals you come across may not have a direct insight into your personal experience, as they haven't lived through it themselves. That's why it's essential to take charge of your own story, ensuring that others recognise you as an individual and include you in the decision-making process regarding your treatment.



4. Prioritise self-care and wellbeing

Never underestimate the importance of self-care and nurturing your mind, body, and soul. Does it statistically help your outcome with your illness? I don't know. But what I do know is that living with MS and nurturing my mind, body, and soul has definitely helped my overall wellbeing, and my experience with this disease.

I know that coping with both MS and cancer, I need to prioritise my wellbeing now more than ever. Whether that's setting aside time to relax, playing some calming music, sitting in the sunshine and getting Vitamin D, and having an energy healing session. Its essential for my healing journey.


5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Embracing a healthy lifestyle can significantly impact your overall wellbeing and help manage chronic illness symptoms. In living with MS Ive always thought it just makes sense if I can remain healthy, then surely that will help my experience with MS.

I dont follow a particular diet or workout program. But I know now more than ever that a balanced diet, regular exercise (Im hoping my walker will make this easier!) and sufficient sleep are so important in supporting your physical and emotional health. Will it guarantee a certain outcome for either of my diseases? No. But a healthy lifestyle will certainly improve my quality of life and give me more energy to cope with any challenge that comes my way.


In conclusion,

Living well with chronic illness is about discovering ways to have a positive impact on your experience and learning to navigate the challenges you face. By embracing the full spectrum of emotions, cultivating a supportive community, advocating for yourself, prioritising self-care, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can write your own narrative and shape your unique journey. In doing so, you'll demonstrate that even in the darkest of times, you have the power to make a difference in your life and find hope, healing, and resilience.

Are You Ready to Reclaim Your Life?

If you are living with a health challenge or supporting a loved one who is the good news is...

You can start your own Hurde2Hope® journey today by accessing this FREE on-demand MindsetMasterclass.

In it, you'll discover the exact three mindset shifts that have empowered me in my life with MS and now stage 4 breast cancer.

I'm so excited to share these insights with you! ❤️🧡💚