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Stressed out! How to navigate one—or more—life changing events

By HERWriter
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Written by Julie Revelant

Within five years, Joyce O’Brien of East Northport, N.Y., suffered more hardship than most people go through in a lifetime. At just 31 years old, her husband Kevin became paralyzed after suffering a brain hemorrhage and three strokes. The following year, her doctors believed her unborn baby had spina bifida and urged her to have an abortion. Then at 33, Joyce was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.

After undergoing a mastectomy and chemotherapy, and relieved to be cancer-free, she received another devastating blow: losing her job as managing director of a Wall Street firm, as well as the health, life, and disability insurances that came along with it.

And if things couldn’t get worse, Kevin, who was healthy again, was diagnosed with stage 3B malignant melanoma and given a 20 to 30 percent chance of survival. A year later, Joyce was diagnosed again with breast cancer, this time, it was stage 4. The doctors told her there was nothing they could do to save her life.

“Initially, it is like you are getting knocked down so hard that you can barely function,” she said. Yet she knew there was more that she was meant to do in life, and most importantly, she needed to stay alive for her daughter. “My feeling was that if I leave her, her light is going to go out.”

Today, Joyce and Kevin are healthy and cancer-free, a feat she credits to biological medicine and holistic living. With her determination to defy the odds, Joyce says her ability to focus on her goals and utilize her worth ethic, faith, and a belief that she could figure anything out was what got her through. “I always had an ‘it can be done attitude,’ she said.

Life will inevitably throw you some curve balls, but how you deal with them can make all the difference. Here are 5 ways:

Take five
When you get caught up in a continuous loop of stressful thinking, it can be difficult to think logically, according to Karol Ward, a licensed clinical social worker and author of Worried Sick: Break Free from Chronic Worry to Achieve Mental and Physical Health.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.