THE BLOG
08/11/2014 04:33 pm ET Updated Oct 11, 2014

Why Cancer Divorce Is Necessary for Survival

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Dear Cancer,

It's you, not me.

I'm making a conscious choice to break up with you. You think you can drag me out of bed at any given time and mess with my sleep schedule. You demand the right to pull out my hair. You've done your best to distance me from my friends and family. You want to control my everyday actions and thoughts and demand I focus only on you. How selfish.

(Not so) Fondly,

Kelsey

Cancer thinks I am just a number, but I'm not. And if you're going through treatment, neither are you. One of the most important facts to remember is that we are not cancer, but that it is just one small piece of who we are and will be.

Your pinky toe is a part of you, but are you just your pinky toe? No!

When I say divorce yourself from cancer, I don't mean pretending you don't have it. Instead, try hard to let go of who you think you should be with cancer and just be yourself.

This acceptance is important for moving forward because without it you will be stuck and consumed by the cancer, and that is not who you truly are or where you want to be. It's insanely easy for someone to say, "Be yourself," but in your early 20s that's what we're all trying to figure out. Add in a cancer diagnosis and things get interesting.

It's also very easy for someone to say, "Don't let cancer take over your life," but when you're in the midst of treatment, it seems as if that IS your life.

However, cancer doesn't control our thoughts or all our actions. If you've struggled with that notion in the past, you're not alone. Most of us do, but now is a huge chance to take back ownership on your life and tell cancer who's boss.

By planning activities that have nothing to do with hospital gowns or waiting rooms, you can slowly return your focus to living your life -- cancer and all.

But, what activities?

Grab a piece of paper and make a list of 10 things that make you happy. Sometimes, we get so bogged down by the cancer life, just having a simple list in front of you can make all the difference.

After you've come up with a few ideas, see which of those you can turn into an outing. Maybe music makes you happy (hopefully it does) if so, check out the local shows in your town! Katy Perry just came through Philadelphia, and she completely boosted my spirit. Check out an artist that will leave you smiling. If you're nervous about wearing a wig, Katy's show is perfect because everyone there wears wild outfits and wigs! I wore a wig for the first time to her show and even though it was scary at first, it felt liberating too maybe because it was purple! So I recommend a show where you can have fun with your outfit and dance.

How about food? Food makes everyone happy, unless I've lost my mind -- this is a solid factoid. Try a cooking class or even just go to a new restaurant with some friends who make you laugh. A fun way to share a meal is tapas, which means "small plates." You can order a bunch of small dishes and share, it makes the experience that much more engaging and pleasurable.

If you're not up for too much activity, a simple stroll through your neighborhood is beneficial. Even some light yoga stretches are helpful! Sometimes just getting out of the house is all you need to feel balanced again. I like to bring along my camera (or iPhone) on my strolls because it literally helps me see the world through a different lens.

If none of these suggestions work, download "Get Up Offa That Thing" by James Brown and dance until you feel better. Please let me know if that did not help you.

Making the conscious choice to divorce cancer makes me feel more in control -- let me know in the comments if it helps you do the same, and what "post-divorce" activities made it to your top 10 list. I want to know how you feed your soul!

Next week's post: Entering the strange transitional post-treatment period (plus some stellar vegan plates I've created since being home).

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