The Importance of Setting Goals for Breast Cancer Survivors

In Breast Cancer, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

With the beginning of a new calendar year, many people turn to setting goals for themselves. But, for breast cancer survivors, an entirely different perspective may be on the horizon. No matter if you are newly diagnosed or have been living with cancer for a long time or even currently you have no evidence of disease, one of the most important things is to continue to be inspired by having something to which you can look forward. For most, the big goals such as participating in a child’s graduation or wedding or the birth of new family members are obvious motivators. But, what about those who have no such future events on the horizon? Why do we so seldom, if ever, hear anyone’s motivation being about personal hopes and dreams as being a driving force? This made me wonder why such would be the case and it seems that we, as women in particular, set everyone else and their goals and happiness as our goals. We focus on everyone else and how we can make their lives better and we determine our own worth based upon our being needed by others. But, what happens if we don’t have someone who depends or relies on us for help and/or support?

No matter the amount of pain or fear or despair that we might feel in this moment, we know that life can be better.Barbara Jacoby

I remember my mother’s words in the months immediately before her decline when she felt no longer needed. My father had already died and as she put it, her children were all married to wonderful spouses and living happy lives and her only grandchild was about to graduate from college and begin her own independent life. She felt that she was no longer needed, not because she wasn’t included in our lives but rather because she had completed her mission here and therefore it was time to go. I remember thinking that it was such a great perspective on a life well lived but also that it was sad that she had no more motivation to keep on going for herself.

It was at this moment that I realized that what she was saying and doing applies to all of us. If we don’t have a purpose or a goal or a dream or something to pursue, why bother to get out of bed every day? If all that we have to look forward to is the end of our lives because we don’t see anything for our future, do we just stop and lie down and die? But, most importantly, how do we know that we don’t or won’t have anything to look forward to in the future since we can’t see beyond this moment? Maybe our true future and real purpose is yet to be revealed. And it was at this moment when I understood what it means to live in the moment and enjoy every minute of today because you don’t know what tomorrow may bring. What if tomorrow holds something so much better than we could ever imagine but if we quit on life just because we can’t see what may be right around the corner, how sad would such a decision be?

Therefore, I started getting excited about anticipating things based upon holidays, the change of seasons, visits with family and friends whether near or far or just about anything that made me smile. I thought about ways that I might be able to purchase something that I had wanted for a long time and setting some short-term goal to do something positive for myself or someone else that could potentially be a new way of life. It didn’t really matter what I projected or planned as long as I took the focus off of what was presently causing me pain, either physically or mentally, and thought about something happy.

That which can motivate us is the hope for something better. No matter the amount of pain or fear or despair that we might feel in this moment, we know that life can be better. It is this knowledge that keeps us going and lets us focus on the positive and the promise of a greater future if we just let go of what we are holding on to that is causing so much pain and sadness and sorrow in this moment and create a happy or positive thought or dream or anticipation for the future. After all, we can’t know what tomorrow will bring so why not hope and pray and focus on its being something wonderful and better and happier than we have ever known.