When I woke from surgery for breast cancer there was a painting of a dragonfly on the ceiling above my bed. One ritual I developed to help myself prepare for surgery was to walk on the beach daily.

At one of my beach stops there was a boardwalk covered in dragonflies. I had taken many photos of the dragonflies. So, it felt like a moment of serendipity when I woke to a see that painting. Here are a few post surgery care tips that I learned along the way.

Dragonfly Healing

Did you know that the dragonfly has a long association with healing? I wasn’t aware of this, but my nurse in recovery was. She looked up the meaning of dragonfly for me and wrote it on the back of my medication instructions.

Here’s what she wrote: “Dragonfly meaning: Joy, adaptation, transformation & digging deeper into the emotions.”

This brief list became my recipe for recovery during my treatment and beyond. Like most people during treatment I got busy with the business of appointments and self-care.

I also learned lots of practical tips for not only surviving but thriving during the treatment process. In this article, I share five of those practical tips.

Here’s how I put my dragonfly recipe for recovery into action while being treated for breast cancer.

Joy

Look for moments of joy every day – in a child’s smile, a beautiful colour. Take the time to notice it, then let your mind and your body feel this moment.

Author Sheree Fitch, in her book Kiss the Joy as it Flies, talks about joy, how it is sometimes fleeting. We should take the time to notice these fleeting moments and kiss the joy as it flies.

Do this every day, as many times as you can, especially on the hard days. On my walks to appointments I tried to spot five things that gave me joy and notice how my body felt in response to this joy.

Treat Yourself

Indulge in a beautiful bath oil, a delicious coffee, a haircut (if you still have hair!). During my radiation treatments, I stopped at a different independent coffee shop along the way and ordered a delicious latte or cappuccino.

It was my treat to myself as I prepared to receive my daily treatment. It gave me pleasure and also helped me to feel like any normal (healthy) woman out for a delicious coffee.

Dance for 10 Minutes a Day

Dancing lifts your heart! I tried to get up and dance every time I heard a danceable song on the radio. Some days I didn’t feel much like dancing, but always felt better once I had danced a bit. I know I suggested this in a previous post 5 Tips for Preparing for Surgery or Another Serious Treatment, but keep dancing – it works!

Focus on What is Important

What lifts your heart? Let go of the “should.” If your energy is limited, save it for activities that bring you joy, that restore you.

Accept Offers of Help

Sometimes it will feel like too much effort to talk to the friend who wants to drive you to your treatment, but it’s okay to be honest and say, “It is too hard to talk today can we just listen to the radio?” Repeat as needed.

Dragonfly Postscript

A postscript to the dragonfly story. The dragonfly story was the inspiration for my book One Loop at a Time: A Story of Rug Hooking, Healing and Creativity. Recently I had the opportunity to meet the nurse who had cared for me and to give her a copy of my book. It was a wonderful reunion and a few tears were shed.

Have you been in treatment and learned some practical post surgery care survival tips? What tips would you add to this list? What were some of the things that brought you moments of joy during a difficult period in your life? Please share in the comments.

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