Waiting for surgery or another serious treatment is a scary time, especially when the outcome is uncertain.

It can feel very out of control. It can also be the perfect time to begin some new habits of self-care. This article is about how to make the best of the waiting time and to regain some of your sense of control.

My experience was with breast cancer. The diagnosis phase – repeat mammogram, core biopsy and the meeting with the surgeon – took about six weeks. Then surgery was scheduled in three weeks’ time.

Never one to sit back and wait, I took my preparation for surgery in hand. I learned many practical tips, five of which I share with you here.

Do Things That Comfort You Each Day

For me, this was knitting simple shawl patterns with beautiful wool that felt good to hold.

Get Outside and Get Some Exercise

I went for daily beach walks, which kept me calm and grounded. I took the time to appreciate the ocean and the wind and the sun (or rain).

When Preparing for Surgery, Dance Can Help

Yes, you heard correctly. Dancing lifts your heart. It gives your brain the message that it will be okay and gets those pleasure chemicals in the brain going. I suggest dancing for at least ten minutes per day.

Form Your Team

When you become ill with something serious like cancer you will get lots of advice from just about anyone. Now is the time to decide who you want on your team.

If you are doing conventional treatment, do you also want to do complementary treatments? Do you want to have a trusted friend be the funnel for all of the helpful advice? For example, at another time when the roles were reversed, my ill friend assigned me to that role. Every time she received some helpful advice she told the person to discuss it with me.

In my case, I had a couple of friends that I assigned to be my entertainment and merriment committee.

Fill Your Freezer with Healthy Foods

Have lots of nourishing snacks and easy meals ready. Say yes when people offer to bake or cook for you. Have a list of your favorite foods to give to others when they ask what they can do.

Repeat numbers one to three as often as you can. Having a plan for the waiting period can have huge benefits. For me, having a plan gave me permission to take care of myself, to make preparing for surgery a priority. For more practical tips, see my book One Loop at a Time.

You will arrive at surgery or treatment in a better frame of mind, and hopefully you will have developed some new ways of taking care of yourself to help you during the recovery process.

Do you know anyone who has had to deal with planning for surgery? What did the experience teach them? What other advice would you give you women in our community facing the same situation? Please share in the comments.

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