BlogCoping with Illness


This post has two inspirations.  The first is blogger and metastatic cancer warrior Lori Marx-Rubiner (@regrounding).  During the #BCSM breast cancer tweetchat on October 15th, Lori shared her own experience of coping with metastatic breast cancer, and shared some of the tools she uses to cope with her illness.  This series of tweets was Lori’s list of her primary coping strategies:

First, I worked w/an amazing therapist who always reminds me that the tests r just information. W/o them, you can’t treat the disease!

Second, I practice a form of meditation. For about 5-10 minute, 3-4 times a day I just breathe. I let whatever thoughts want to come, come. Then I ask them to leave. Nicely…lol

Third, I remind myself of the + things I can do with the time. Backgammon w/kid, a walk, a book, call a friend…and I do them!

Fourth, I write. My blog (both published and unpublished posts) is the place where I excise all the garbage I can’t coax away.

Fifth, when push comes to shove, I remind myself that tears really do carry toxins out of the body…and I cry.

The rest I have to surrender. — Lori Marx-Rubiner (@regrounding)

Her list blew me away.  Everything on the list is a tool I try to use myself and often share with my clients.  But that last line–the discussion of surrendering–that just hit home for me.

Surrendering is one of the skills that often gets short-changed when we are facing serious  pain.  We are taught to be active, to be engaged, to push back against pain.  But sometimes, pushing back doesn’t serve us.  Sometimes being active just wastes our precious energy.  And then, it is worth thinking about surrendering.  It is worth accepting that whatever has happened has happened, and give yourself permission to grieve, to heal, to move forward in whatever way is possible.

So, the idea of surrendering has been on my mind since that chat.  Here is one small way that it affected me.  I often walk if I have a block of unscheduled time during my day–it gets some exercise in and lets me clear my head.  On a recent walk, I had made it a mile or so from my office when it started to rain.  I thought about trying to dodge the rain, but I recognized that it wasn’t going to happen.  I could get wet and enjoy my walk, or I could get wet and be stressed about being wet.  I remembered Lori’s words and made the choice to surrender.  My walk in the rain turned from a stressful race to a meditation on the beginning of fall.

That small walk was a powerful illustration.  Surrendering transformed upset into a chance to recharge.  I know that it’s a small example, but it made me curious.  What can you surrender?  Where can you transform stress into meditation?  If you think of something, please feel free to let me know in the comments.


Image Credit: When it Rains by beeep via Flickr



  1. BEAUTIFUL post…honored to have inspired you. You raise such an important point about knowing WHEN to surrender. Its not always so clear, but for me that feeling of “working too hard” or swimming upstream is usually my clue.

    Thanks for sharing your walk with me!! XOX

    1. Lori,

      It’s an honor to share your words. And your own insight about the cues is helpful too! Thanks so much.


  2. This is a very powerful post. Lori’s list and your discussion of surrender. Thank you.

    1. Dee,

      Thank you for sharing your voice.


  3. Lori’s beautiful post has touched us in many corners of the world – thanks for sharing it here too.

    1. Marie,

      Lori is wonderfully wise–I was thrilled to share her words.


  4. Surrender is so difficult for many. It seems to be equated with giving up which it isn’t. It is about creating space, being in the moment, being with, … Surrender feels risky but as you stated can be so restorative.

    1. JoAnn,

      Thank you for your reframe of surrendering as being in the moment.


  5. Such wonderful advice from you and Lori too. Often, maybe even most of the time, surrendering has a negative connotation, meaning giving up. In this case, it’s not. Sometimes we do have to just allow ourselves to feel, accept and just be. Thanks for the thoughtful reflection.

    1. Nancy,

      Thanks for your kind words–this post meant a lot to me.


  6. A beautiful post, and I find Lori’s words to be an inspiration to me, too. You’ve reminded me that sometimes surrender can be a therapeutic thing to do. Thank you!

    1. Beth,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. That evening of chat (like so many others) was incredibly powerful.


  7. Beautiful post..her coping is inspirational. .

  8. Ann, This is a beautiful post and so on target for the every day stressors to the big scary life threatening stuff. Surrendering does not mean giving up it means opening up to the moment you are in. I am so inspired every time I read your blog. Warmly, Allison

  9. Beautiful and inspiring. Many people with chronic disorders that impact what they are able to do and how they live will also benefit from this simple and profound way of surrender. Thank you for sharing.

  10. The wonderful thing is that surrendering does not mean giving up. It’s actually a sign of strength to me. I think of it was surrendering those things I cannot control and moving forward from there.

    Beautiful posts from both of you. These are keepers.


    1. Jody,

      Surrendering is so far from giving up–it is the choice to acknowledge that we’re not omnipotent and choose to spend our energy wisely.


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