Living with cancer blog

What gives you strength as a cancer survivor?

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. March 16, 2010

This week, I'd like to talk about sources of strength. As a cancer survivor, your life has been changed significantly. You've adapted to a major change in your health status and how you view being healthy. You may have completely changed your routine at home and at work. What you may have considered "normal" lifestyle and habits probably are much different now than prior to your diagnosis.

In a recent survey of cancer survivors, we asked people to identify their primary sources of strength. The three most prevalent answers were, in order:

  • Family
  • Spirituality (or faith)
  • Friends

It's not usually just one thing, but a combination of things that give people strength. I'm always so touched when I reflect on what it means to be a survivor for each individual. Everyone has their own unique way of dealing with the impact that cancer has had on their life.

At Mayo Clinic in Rochester, a journal is kept out in the Cancer Education Center as well as the treatment center floor for anyone to write down their thoughts. I would like to feature a couple of journal entries that really get to the heart of what gave them strength.

"I've come to the realization that life is about experiences and events. It is not measured in days or years. So experience life — don't measure it."

"Cancer changed me, but I found strength in my faith, support from family and friends, excellent medical care and my positive attitude."

Feel free to share your perspective. I'd love to hear more about your experience as a cancer survivor. What gives you strength?


Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

51 Comments Posted

Mar. 16, 2010