I remember early on in my diagnosis, and even years later, thinking to myself, “What did I do to deserve this?” I thought this less in a “pity party” sort of way and more in a self-loathing kind of way. I wasn’t looking for sympathy. I was looking back at my life, wondering what I could have done differently. I was convinced that my cancer diagnosis was a punishment for something. God must have been punishing me for (insert random bad deed here).

Maria Voermans the Importance of Self-LoveIronically, I don’t actually think this about other cancer patients — just me. I have read advice that states we are to talk to ourselves like we would talk to our best friend. I often think of some of the dialogue I have in my own head and put it into the best friend context. I am sometimes appalled at the way I speak to myself internally. I would never say these things to a total stranger, let alone my best friend; so why do I think it’s ok to self-deprecate?

When I started taking time to recognize and appreciate my strength, I started to notice a shift in my overall wellbeing. I began to look at my cancer as less of a punishment and more of an opportunity. It changed me, yes, but for the better. When I started celebrating the strength of my body, it was my mind that benefitted.

This is why in September I decided to offer a three-part series through Small Stones Wellness Center titled “Nourish Your Spirit: A Guide to Self-Love Through Cancer” taught by Erin Alexander, friend and therapeutic yoga instructor. This workshop will provide actionable tools to help cancer patients create a “self-love” care plan that will support body, mind and spirit through (and after) treatment. My hope is that this workshop will change the way cancer patients feel about themselves during and after treatment.

The workshop’s sessions are from 6 to 7:15 p.m. on September 12, 19 and 26. They’re at Moorland Reserve Health Center, 4805 S. Moorland Road, New Berlin, WI 53151. For more information, call 262-798-7440.

Share Your Thoughts

Maria noticed a shift in her wellbeing when she started to look at cancer as less of a punishment and more of an opportunity. What steps have you taken to improve your overall wellbeing? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Maria grew up in the historical village of Greendale, where she and much of her family still reside. In March of 2008 she began to experience pain in her right leg. An MRI showed Maria that there was a tumor in her upper thigh/groin area and that it was likely serious. She was immediately referred to Froedtert & MCW's Clinical Cancer Center, specifically the sarcoma team. She feels so fortunate to be working with cancer patients, offering support and empathy. She is blessed to have the chance to bring them educational opportunities and wellness products and services to support them during and after their treatment.

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Marloe Esch
on June 7, 2018 - 12:24 pm

Yes yes yes! This reminds me of Dr. Kristen Neff's work on self-compassion (http://self-compassion.org/) that I found while researching how to improve body image after cancer, and the workshop sounds like a great opportunity to learn some hands-on techniques!

on June 7, 2018 - 12:24 pm

I would love to attend, but I work here at MCW and live in Grafton. I'm tired already at the end of my day at 3PM. It's just too far to go. Maybe this could be offered at the new clinic in Mequon once it opens. There is so little offered by MCW/Froedtert in the north shore/Ozaukee of Mequon, Cedarburg & Grafton.
I know I could benefit.

on June 7, 2018 - 12:24 pm

When I picked up the flyer this past week, I immediately noticed this class. I thought I could definitely benefit from something like that, because I am guilty of beating myself up all the time.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!