Nicole Foster is a former Valerie Fund patient and cancer survivor. Recently, Nicole kindly offered to host a Wellness Workshop for survivors like herself. More than a dozen current and former Valerie Fund patients joined together to learn about the process of getting to a place of improved health and well-being. We have spoken about the importance of wellness and mental health on this blog before and you can refresh yourself by clicking here to learn about giving thanks, clicking here to learn about self-care for caregivers, or clicking here to learn tips on reducing stress. Join us as Nicole shares her story, her passion for health and wellness, and what her Wellness Workshop taught her fellow survivors.
Hi, I'm Nicole.
Last Wednesday night, I opened my laptop and greeted over a dozen new and familiar faces on Zoom to discuss what we all have in common–our survivorship– as well as share a handful of ways each of us can improve our well-being. Collectively we shared our own experiences of survivorship, touching on the ways in which we struggle, stand out, and shine as survivors. The latter fueling us to live lives of purpose and passion, which, I have learned firsthand, cannot be done without caring for ourselves first.
At 19 years old, nearly two years after I completed treatment, it became clear to me that becoming a survivor is much more than losing your hair, spending several months of your life in a hospital, and getting the good news of NED (No Evidence of Disease). In many ways, acknowledging the beauty and blessing of survivorship led me to actively pursue a life of health and well-being. Rather than allowing this journey to improved health to be daunting and uncertain like my years in treatment, I embraced this experience and chose to no longer take my survivorship for granted. Gradually, I began to clean up my diet and go fully plant-based, I started taking yoga classes and downloaded meditation apps, used exercise as a tool for both health and stress reduction, and took time out of my busy college student schedule to educate myself on all of these topics. I fully transformed as a person by embracing my survivor status, with credit due to the ongoing love and support from my oncology team at Morristown. Witnessing my own growth and healing through empowered well-being has led me to the work I do today.
Thanks to the amazing support from The Valerie Fund, many of our needs as cancer survivors are met through each center’s comprehensive care and psychosocial support programs. Throughout last week’s workshop, participants learned and discussed how achieving well-rounded well-being is an on-going process, is much like survivorship, requiring a commitment to improved health by dedicating time to education, practice, and introspection.
While the needs and experiences of survivors are unique, the basics of wellness are applicable to anyone looking to improve their health and enhance their lives. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to your own well-being, and figuring out what works for you simply begins with starting. Whether that means deciding to squeeze in a daily walk, downloading a meditation app, or tapping into your creative side. I’ve outlined three simple steps to get you started on a sustainable path to well-being.
3 Simple Steps to Improving Your Well-Being Today
- Reflect. Take inventory of where your well-being currently falls within the six pillars of well-being, by using the Wellness Wheel (see below). Write down a few points for each with what practices or activities you are currently doing. Notice how round your wheel is–Where are you thriving? Where are you out of balance?
- Plan. Decide on which area(s) of wellness you would like to focus on right now. What are three things you can do daily to improve this? From here, create a realistic plan that works for you.
- For example, if you are low in physical wellness your three goals might look like–swapping out coffee for water, going to bed before midnight, and taking a walk outside once a day.
That’s it! In three simple steps, you’re on your way to improving your well-being in substantial and sustainable ways. Whether you are a current patient, survivor, parent, caregiver, or simply a friend of The Valerie Fund, you deserve to take care of you and live well.
Nicole recently graduated from Columbia University with a Master of Arts in Psychology, and a concentration in Spirituality, Mind-Body studies. Since graduating in May, she has launched her own business as a Health Coach and Wellness Consultant providing individualized care and education on all topics related to well-being. As a health coach, she specializes in working work one-on-one with young adult clients, assisting them in achieving well-rounded, well-being.
Register today for the 2020 Valerie Fund Walk & JAG-ONE Physical Therapy 5K
being held on October 3rd in Verona Park.
During this difficult time of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Valerie Fund remains dedicated to the children battling cancer and blood disorders. We are in this together and continue to treat every child who needs our help.
We are in this together. #BecauseofValerie