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Finding Joy and Peace After CLL

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Published on February 11, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • After a cancer diagnosis, your priority list often changes.
  • Enjoying the little things in everyday life can help you stay positive and get you through the challenging times.
  • Finding your new normal and deciding how you want to live the rest of your life is empowering.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia patient and advocate Jeff Folloder talks with Christian life coach Pat Weatherspoon-Hall about finding joy after a cancer diagnosis turns your world upside down. Jeff describes the emotions he went through after his CLL diagnosisand how he coped. Watch as they discuss ways to move past the initial fear and uncertainty, and ultimately find happiness in day-to-day life.

This program is sponsored by Pharmacyclics. This organization has no editorial control. It is produced solely by Patient Power.

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Transcript | Finding Joy and Peace After CLL

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Jeff Folloder:                

When I was diagnosed almost a decade ago, I was middle-aged, I was in charge of everything. Life was good and it was on track and cancer knocked me off of that track, and, my apologies, scared the crap out of me and my entire family. And I did not know what was important and as I went through the two-plus years of watch and wait, I realized that most of the things that I thought were important weren’t. 

And as I went through treatment, I gained strength from knowing that I had changed what was important on my priority list. It wasn’t necessarily important to have all the stuff stacked up on my desk, all the counters of wealth and success. It was more important to be able to smile. Actually, find something enjoyable to do each and every day, even when I felt miserable, and I felt miserable a lot.

How do people wrap their arms around—I hate the term the new normal, but how do they go from being scared, how do they go from being totally intimidated to a state of being able to extract the joy and the peace from what’s in front of them?

Pat Weatherspoon-Hall:

The phrase that was going through my mind was the new normal, even though you said you hate to say that, but that’s the phrase while you were talking that was going through my mind. And you’re dealing with the diagnosis, you’re going through the treatment, and you start thinking about how you want to live the rest of your life, as you said, and I think all three of you. The things that you thought were important before no longer fit into your life now, and so, you decide on what is most important to you now and you give yourself permission to do that. 

One of the things, even when I was working for CanCare, when I would talk to the patients is that a lot of times they didn’t think they had permission to do anything. Because a lot of the times their fam—they were doing a lot of things for their family member, and so one of the first things that I would tell them is, “You have permission to feel the way that you’re feeling or to think the thoughts that you’re thinking, even though you’re trying to live and trying to do everything that your family member wants you to do. But you have permission to go through the emotions, decide on what you want to do, and to tell your family members that and your friends.” Because sometimes they’re afraid to do so.

And I would get such a joy in hearing that sigh of relief on the other end of that phone because it’s the first time that they’ve been ever—been able to release that information. And it’s the first time that they also decide that they have hope.

Jeff Folloder:                

It’s interesting because as I’ve gone through this not-so-pleasant journey of cancer, I’ve learned a couple things along the way. The first thing that I’ve learned is I now enjoy spending time with my daughters in the evening sharing their cocktail. It’s kind of nice. They’re both adult children now, but having them come—I look forward to them coming over to my house, sitting down, having a glass of wine, and just talking as human beings. I enjoy going to the grocery store and buying stuff that I probably shouldn’t spend that much money and sitting down and enjoying a bit of good cheese with my wife or…

Pat Weatherspoon-Hall:      

You know that’s coming out.

Jeff Folloder:                

…or having a reasonable portion of a really nice steak and then I take a deep breath, and I realize I’m in a good place. My world is somewhat balanced, and I’m going to pay for it by not doing six miles the next morning, I’m going to do 10 miles. 

Pat Weatherspoon-Hall:      

But all of that ties into your spiritual being, your mental health, your physical health, and your well-being, so that all encompasses a wholeness within the person, and I think that’s what you’re describing.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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