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Mayo Clinic recently hosted its annual Center for Innovation Transform 2012 Conference in Rochester, Minn. The main focus of the conference each year is to discuss transformation and innovation in health care. Laura Adams, M.D., was one of the guest speakers this year and she talked about how she was able to transform her experience of being diagnosed with cancer into a positive change in her life. I was so inspired by her story that I thought we could discuss this idea on the blog this week.
She and her family started a silver linings list as soon as she was diagnosed with cancer in order to reflect on the positive things that came about because of her diagnosis. She talked about spending more time with family, becoming closer with her son, being able to appreciate her own physical health, and finding joy and happiness in the little things.
She also reflected on her professional life and how this experience transformed her perspective as a physician on what it is really like to be a patient — to wait for and worry about test results, to communicate the news of cancer to your family, and to organize your medical records as you travel to another health care system for confirmation of results and treatment.
Because of her personal experience with cancer, Dr. Adams is now working to transform the health care system in a positive way. To learn more about Transform 2012 and view her presentation, you can go to this link: www.mayo.edu/transform.
I would love to hear from others who may have reflected on the idea of looking for the silver lining. What positive changes have you experienced? Sharing your positive thoughts may help other readers.
Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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I am a cancer survivor, went through surgery, chemo, and radiation. I have come to one conclusion. Cancer is an enemy, it has destroyed many lives, we should not give it a free hand, but give it tough time. Three things are most important that all can do (even if not easy). Exercise, good diet, and stress free attitude. Even if there seems no hope, this is the hope. One can wear joggers, get on the street, and if one cannot, then find ways to exercise, daily. Eat less, eat fruits and veges, eat high quality proteins, and avoid sugar. One will not die before the time comes, but one should try to live healthy, so let go stress. Stress only helps the enemy, and stress free body is the beginning of cure. So, even if tired, in pain, lets start to get on the streets, in the gyms, in homes, but exercise... I am trying to follow my own words, and for now, results are great, by the Grace of Almighty!
I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2005. At the time I was studying for a Diploma in Community Welfare work. I had 2 major operations during this time and my classmates were wonderful at helping me to keep up with the workload. I also had 7months of chemo during this time and was determined to get well and continue on with my life despite the nausea and fatigue.
However at my five yearly checkup a CT scan showed that I had numerous lesions in my omentum. 3 months later I found out that I was suffering from primary Ovarian cancer grade IIIC. At first I had the same zeal for treatment that I had had with my bowel cancer, willingly and optimistically enduring another 2 major operations to debulk the cancer with chemo in between and after.
Now however I feel that the chemo and cancer has taken over my life in a very unpleasant way. Like Judy we are suffering as a family because of my loss of income and my husband is exhausted doing all the things I used to manage without even thinking about it. I have made the decision to stop all further treatment as I have been told that there is no cure for my cancer. I see the chemo as an imposition on my remaining quality of life. My mother also had ovarian cancer and chose to forego treatment. She got very tired but was not in a lot of pain and her end was peaceful. She enjoyed a relatively good quality of life up until the last couple of weeks of her life. I have decided this is what I want - peace of mind.
I never thought cancer would touch my life.It did and it has been very difficult.I wish they could wipe cancer off the face of the earth.
Cancer has taken my life away. My job as a nurse is gone,my car is gone because I cannot afford it on the 940 a month I live on. My house is falling apart because I have no money to fix it. The shower and tub cannot be used due to leaks. I have lost my independence
and most of the time I am very sad.Yet I know I am better off than some people and I am still alive.
You are an amazing person. My heart, my thoughts and my prayers are sent to you. I read your blog and got a huge mindful breath. Close your eyes and visualize health,happiness and blessings. Try to live in your moment. I am doing that for you now.
For Cindy: here is a great site by the American Cancer society. Check it out as it might answer some of your questions:
I am a 2 time cancer survivor who is very appreciative of my life. I wish you the very best on this difficult journey.
I was diagnossed in 2002 with throat cancer. i had 33 radiation treatments and two chemo treatments. Up until last year, i was fine until in September, 2011, i discovered a spot on my tongue. Of course it was cancer and it was operated on on an outpatient basis. To make a long story short, after a year of monthly exams, my dr. wanted an MRI done, then a bone scan, then a PET scan - I had them all and was told i have spots throughout my body - in the hip area, skull, diagnosed with bone cancer. The tx option was chemo since i already had too much radiation and it would not cure anything, but may slow it down and i could live an extra month or two. I chose not to do it and was referred to pallative doctor. I have no idea what's going on. I have no idea how long I have. I have no idea what to expect. EVERY SINGLE day is filled with thoughts of what's gong to happen, what should i do? I don't know. Pure torture.
Again, Listening and learning from you all,I am mystified. This cancer disease is so immense. It effects is so individually. I just would like to say to you all that your life, this disease your story is important and not for a minute should you ever stop believing that you are special, important, and worth it. Please, Please do not give up. Believe you are the ones, the ones that will deliver the message of hope and health, Stay Strong and show the way.
Hi everyone....I am a fan of this program Sheryl has set up. I wish to ask a favor. When you write will you spell out the words rather than use initials i.e. mets ATBI as I do not know what they mean. I am not picking on anyone particular as it has happened many many times. I am just not that versed I guess.
I find your words and wisdom helpful and encourage you to keep writing. Some of us are reading. and learning Thanks.
Hi Carol - I had to add chime in on your input with same deficits. I too was faced with cancer in 2009, two months to live without treatment which was chemo and radiation. The chemo was bad enough providing long term damage but radiation placed insult upon injury - TBI. No one saw it at first but it continued to get worse. My oncologist was quick to pick up on my concerns and got me into the neurologist who sent me to the speech therapist. Their results then sent me to a psychologist for brain asessment - TBI. (All thru Kaiser) Though frustrating and often misunderstood, I suggest one day at a time, and setting goals. I believe in working back to my old self which I loved, not creating/settling for new self. Still dealing with action plan for remedies but success has me back to work after 2 1/2 years. It is not easy. I rec'd assist thru med team, Dept of Rehab, work prep programs, and family/friend support. I keep to a diet, exercise routine, and continue to increase goals as I improve and reach new heights to get back to my old self. Very best wishes - keep your faith!
Carol - I think you should seek professional help. It has helped me deal with a rediagnosis of cancer. Getting to know cancer survivors and sharing stories can also be a help. Giving, rather than focusing on the negative, may lift your spirits. We are all in this together, so know that you will be in my prayers. I count my blessings and am thankful for more years of survival than predicted. I can always find something funny - I have a "gimp tag" instead of a handicap one. Most of all, take good care of yourself, especially emotionally.
The time set apart for surgery and radiation, looking back, was a very special time alone w/ God. I walked for an hour after each radiation treatment...in the beautiful world He created. It gave me comfort that I could place myself in my Creator's hands, and the beauty all around me really strengthened me. I lived in the book of Psalms and realized that God gave us those prayers for when we don't know how to pray...and He loves to hear our heart. Our joys, our fears, our questions, our trust, our confusion. I now have a fuller realization that I am dependent on Him. He feeds the sparrows so I know He will watch over me. I had an amazing team of medical specialists who walked me through this and I am so grateful. My husband and I got closer. I still wish I had never had the diagnosis but God will meet us even in it.
Meybe for many years I have had Thyroid Ca,looking at the test where between normal limits but dicreasing,during several yearsI see the doctor every year a everything was "ok" starting the end of last year I began having right ear disconfot I insisted and this year I have a ultrasound and a negative biopsy, but I decided to have surgery and I did have it a day before my 62 years old, the results I did no expected
right and two out of three nodules positive for cancer beside neck muscle.The surgeon is positive of my prognosis,I have not seen the oncologist,he did the biopsy,I do not know if I should trust him, after the tx, I am planning on having a second opinion, I was happily retired,without economical problems and enjoying life until this, I do not know what to do i am investigating about the dx, my brother,my mom are the only one knowing about the dx.I do not want to tell anybody friend or relatives, I am keeping myself busy ,I am planning on going to support groups I am in shock I did not expected to have cancer, but I have to accept .
I had brain cancer surgery three years ago, followed by intence radiation and chemotherapy. I was left with many deficits and have had personality change, fatigue, and loss of bladder control. I was told I will probably need a walker the rest of my life. As a result, I am severely depressed and even came close to committing suicide. I just hate my new self, and want it all to be over! Can you give suggestions for dealing with traumatic brain injury and the side effects that follow?
I have met many interesting, wonderful people I wouldn't have otherwise. I started an e-newsletter to others with the same cancer I have. My "watch & wait" period has given me time to provide information and encouragement to others; also to evaluate, and focus on, what is really important in my life. It's been a worthwhile learning curve.
I truely believe that when cancer revealed itself it wasn't happening to me. I never missed a beat of work, family and life. I flew through it like it was happening to someone else. Sure enough I came to a crash. A hard one!! So through it all I found out that I am so lucky. I was blessed to have a time out! I have made the greatest friends and extended family from other cancer survivors. Who would have thought? A very bad thing turned into such appreciation and gratefulness.
I've had epilepsy over 73 years of my life and when I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, my neurologist said "I think you'll do just fine as far as being able to adapt to it and its changes."
Looking back on my life, having sought to learn about each changing stage of epilepsy that I went through---I sought to do the same with the cancer. Searching, reading, researching it, its treatments and chemo through every stage.
Understanding that way "enabled me to understand, but not worry about the next steps, rather I kept my anxiety down and live one day at a time as best I can within the realm of my conditions."
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