I wish my family could see that I am different… I won’t ever be the same as I was before… this is the new me, I have accepted it… I just wish they could too… ‘

John was sharing in the last session of our 8-week Mindfulness for Cancer course. He had come to accept that after recovering from his cancer he could no longer do as much as he once did, such as taking care of his grandchildren after school every day.

John enjoyed spending time with them, so he had struggled on. He felt this was part of his identity as a grandparent, to be there for them. But his energy was often drained by the time they were collected, and he was wiped out for the rest of the day.

Some months later in a follow-up session, John reflected that he no longer measured his days by how many tasks he had ticked off a list, but instead how he felt at the end of it. He still took his grandchildren on some days, and they had great fun together. But he and his daughter had accepted that he could not take his grandchildren every day.

John was now focused on leading the life he could lead; he had let go of the life that he was no longer able to lead. Denial, anger and resignation had been replaced with kindness, acceptance and self-compassion. He had accepted his identity was changing.

Some aspects of all our identities change, some aspects are more permanent. Seeing which bits are which, is not always easy. Accepting change to what we see as so personal, our very identity, can take incredible courage and strength. I have learnt much from John.

NB I still run courses for those living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis as well as those impacted by it. If you feel I can help you or anybody in this way, please get in touch via my website. I would be happy to see if I can help.