Life goes on. It doesn’t stop. It doesn’t adjust to accommodate the changes in how a cancer survivor looks at life or wants to live. I have always been an on-the-go person, but each time I had cancer, I was stopped in my tracks. Literally. Focus was on treatments, healing, taking care of myself and getting the rest I needed. At times, in an odd way, I kind of lost awareness that I actually had cancer, because it was such a long ordeal, whether chemotherapy, radiation or surgeries. It became a way of life for a period of time.

Jennifer and her daughterAnd then you heal. You eventually discover and define your new “normal” after cancer, since nothing is the same. The struggle is real when you want to live simply in a very complicated world. When you want to take care of yourself, but you continue to put others first. When you always say “yes” because you don’t want to let anyone down. When it feels like there is no down time because we live in a world of technology. When you want a simple life, yet you are so thirsty to live and do new things that you sit back and watch your social calendar get overwhelming. When you realize your stress level is elevated as is your anxiety, and you recognize how detrimental that is to your health and well-being.

And then it just hits you. You realize it’s time to create a garden oasis to enjoy when you sit on the deck or front porch. It’s time to make your health a priority and exercise on a regular basis. It’s time to get your bike out and go for a ride just because it’s a beautiful day (and you haven’t ridden your bike in years). It’s time to plan a vacation and make R&R your top priority. It’s time to make your home so comfortable that being there is like a “staycation.” It’s time to open the windows to enjoy some fresh air, while dozing off to take a much-needed nap. It’s time to plan more leisurely activities with friends and loved ones – maybe having a cookout or hanging out at a pool. It’s time to take a vacation day from work with absolutely no agenda. It’s time to accept the fact that some things will take longer to get done when you put yourself first, but that is okay! It’s time to learn to gently say “no.”

Note to Self: Slow Down. It’s okay to make yourself a priority sometimes. As a cancer survivor, it is necessary; it’s not being selfish.

Share Your Thoughts

Throughout cancer treatment and during recovery, time moves at a rapid pace. What do you do to slow down and treat yourself? What activities help you find comfort during your cancer journey?

About the Author

Jennifer Pichelman was born in Racine, Wis. She graduated from Concordia University Wisconsin with an undergraduate degree in business management and communication. She recently celebrated 25 years with a manufacturing company in Racine and currently works in marketing. Jennifer was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1994 and underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Due to the radiation to her chest, Jennifer was told she had an increased risk of breast cancer, which her oncologist diligently screened for with mammograms and breast MRI's. She remained cancer free until December of 2012, when she was diagnosed with a secondary cancer, breast cancer. When a small mass was discovered after a mammogram, deep down Jennifer knew she had breast cancer. After biopsy results came back, Jennifer was formally diagnosed on Dec. 28, 2012 -- 3 days after Christmas.

Mary Haarmann

One of the things I learned during my summer of chemo for breast cancer in 2011: I'm a human BEING, not a human DOING! So, it's OK to do nothing - maybe just listen to music and breathe...

Jennifer Pichelman

It's nice to hear the blog touched you, Marilyn and Amy. I keep telling myself to slow down and I wanted to write about it because it's so very important, especially for us. Slow down. Enjoy life. Enjoy loved one. Sometimes we just need a little reminder!

Amy Stuecktroth

Jennifer, I am living with Stage 4 breast cancer. Thankfully, I am strong and healthy and there is currently NED on my scans! I am thankful for every day, but struggle with the busyness of life getting in the way of my strong desire to slow down! One thing about my treatment that I look back on is that I would spend endless hours on my patio in my ergonomic lawn chair looking up at the blue, summer sky! It was the most comfortable place recovering from my mastectomies. Treatment was so hard, but it forced me to slow down, rest and take care of myself. Thank you for writing so much of what I feel in my heart. I admire your positive spirit!


Wow, your blog today really hit home! I'm a two time breast cancer survivor and I really related to what you said in your blog. I so want things to be SIMPLE! I just want to enjoy things in life. It's so hard to say no, to jump to the next thing that needs to get done, to let the stress of work get to you, to be tired. I know I needed this wake up call to remember what is important and to make it so. It IS time to make things for me important and to SLOW DOWN. Thank you for sharing. Just the reminder I needed.