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Mindful : December 2018
Recovery in the Real World Even for the survivor, writes Pat Rockman, cancer leaves little unscathed— and resuming life-as-usual is easier said than done. A friend told me that after the treatment of her cancer, it took her a year to return to being a “normal” person, getting on with the day-to- day business of living. Recovery is not typically recognized as a transition requiring adjustment. It’s kind of like when you lose a loved one and you get three days off work to grieve: We often need more time than expected. Likewise, once a fight with cancer is over, you cope with the end of your role as the star in your own drama. And, as with any significant life event, while you may outwardly seem the same, often there is an internal change, some wisdom gained about the preciousness and fragility of our brief lives. We may appreciate what it really means to be mindful of each moment as best we can. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Patricia Rockman, MD, is a family physician with a focused practice in mental health. She is Senior Director of Education and Clinical Services at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies, Toronto, and an associate professor at the University of Toronto, Department of Family Medicine. Fortunately for me and for many, breast cancer is now a treatable disease. So here I am, alive, for the moment a survivor. Having come through a change—the end of my pre-cancer life, a chaotic and emotional period of coping, and finally a new, cancer-free beginning—I find myself granted a somewhat different life. I try to be more present, more giving, and to spend less time doing what I don’t want to do. I now really know that life is short. My friend the filmmaker Mike Hool- boom reminds me that “everything is just waiting to be noticed.” This is true of whatever compels us, repels us, or leaves us indifferent. So, the path of a catastrophic illness has a begin- ning, a middle, and an end that mindfulness → ONCE A FIGHT WITH CANCER IS OVER, YOU COPE WITH THE END OF YOUR ROLE AS THE STAR IN YOUR OWN DRAMA. 22 mindful December 2018 LIVING | mindful md By Patricia Rockman • Illustration by Andrea Mongia