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Last year, we had a blog discussion on "How cancer changes you" and so many of you wrote in to share your experiences. With this post, I want to delve deeper into the positive side. I realize it might be asking a lot to do this; however, while having cancer is a generally negative occurrence, some positive things may come from it.
I'll share a story of a woman I met who was diagnosed with breast cancer. After her initial treatment, she decided to reduce her work schedule and pursue her love for painting. She traveled to places she loved and created incredible watercolor paintings reflecting on the beauty of each place.
She stayed active in her work life, but was able to balance it with her dream of painting again. She told me she wouldn't have done this if it hadn't been for her cancer diagnosis. Previous to her diagnosis, she was extremely focused on her career and had put her love for painting on hold.
I'm sure this story isn't unique. Many of you have made positive changes in your life because of your cancer diagnosis. I've heard so many stories of love, courage and strength. At times, it's hard to be positive, as having cancer isn't exactly easy and the physical feelings of the body usually have a strong influence on the mind and outlook.
I would love to hear about your personal experiences. How did you transform the negative to positive? How did this experience change your life?
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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I have been recuperating from chemo and surgeries I had during 2011. I have wept so much and have been so afraid and dealt with pain but the cancer was removed in August 2011. I realized I want to be alive for many years and have the chance to make this come true. I have faith it will happen and have also become a person who laughs a lot more and hugs people and doesn't take it all so seriously any longer. I made peace with people I thought had offended me and started looking at the good points in people and situations and it does make me happy to think this way. I am still tired so I rest and slow down and accept the limitations for now but can feel joy building as I get stronger. So many changes in the past year since I was diagnosed and most are positive: I eat better, I exercise and, most important to me, I laugh and love more freely.
As scary as this may sound I am somewhat thankful of my BC because I was able to discover the type of life that was for me. Don't get me wrong I was satisfied with the life I had before my diagonsis, but the life that I am living now is great(leaving the BC on the back burner). At age 19 lost my driver's license due to the lost of perphial vision because of my brain surgery. which then fourced me to ride a bicycle at age 21 and have not looked back since (Think that was harder to digest than the BC). Although I have battled through depressoin, I love how I am more of an envoirmentalist, adult, paicent, understanding. Being sustanilbe, having my own garden, reccyling, or pedaling myself 32 miles to the next town over are things I would have never thought about before having BC. Determination is the strongest tool in life and never give up because nothing is set in stone!
Cycling Can Cure,
I was diagnosed with Stage IIIC Inflammatory Breast Cancer in 2007, and I decided to focus on healing my entire life if that was even possible! I had the extreme treatments my oncologist recommended, and I also used complementary therapies. I blogged my way through it, and today am NED and an activist. I am much happier than I was before my diagnosis, although the treatments were hard on me. I have recreated my work life so that everything I do makes me happy. I also enjoy my family more. I wouldn't wish IBC on anybody, but my life was transformed completely. I was convinced that I had to do that to get well. My blog is called the Liberation of Persephone, because I feel that I ventured down into the dark and came out stronger.
I was diagnosed with ovarion cancer in 2007,stage 3c. Had a total hyserectomy and 6mo's of chemo. In 2009 was my 2nd recurrance again surgery & chemo..After that I felt I had to take some type of control. I purchased a book Beating Cancer with Nutrition by Patrick Quillin phd,rd,cns..I read of different alternative treatments and found a Wellness Institute that provided Vitamin C intravenously,which I decided to try. I was advised by this Dr. they had some good results with this treatment for ovarion cancer. He put me on a non dairy,no meat,low low sugar. lots of veggies& low fruit plan. He did a complete blood workup & provided different types of vitamins.. I have been going once a month for treatments for a yr & half now and feeling great & still in remission... I am happy I took control to help myself have a better quality of life for as many years as I can.
I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH COLORECTAL CANCER 4 YRS AGO AND WAS TREATED WITH CHEMO AND RADIATION TREATMENTS AT THE SAME TIME WITH SUCCESS AND REMISSION WITH MANY FOLLOWUP PET SCANS, MRI ETC AND RECENTLY HAD A FOLLOW-UP SCAN WITH A THORACIC LESION IN THE T-6 AREA--I HAD TWO MRI -A BONE SCAN AND A BONE SURVEY- WITH NO ONE MAKING A DECISION AS TO WHAT THE LESION IS--IT HAD NOT SHOWN UP IN ANY TESTS UNTIL RECENTLY-I AM CURRENTLY WAITING ON A DECISION--WITH NO DEFINITIVE WORD ON WHAT THIS LESION IS FRUSTRATING--WHEN EVERYONE SAYS THERE IS A LESION AND THEY CANNOT MAKE A DEFINITE DIAGNOSIS --CAN ANYONE GIVE ME AN OPINION THANKS
What wonderful stories of courage and strength. Giving and receiving support along the way is so important. Ashton, I am sure that you will receive so much back from your child as you open back up to her. Children can be such wonderful sources of emotional comfort and strength. Start with little things...doing your favorite activities together (a movie date, ice cream together, stories before bed, special hugs and kisses).
I've had a rough few years.... my husband of 6 years left me during my fifth month of pregnancy and then during our divorce he passed away. A few months before his death I felt run down and was having some very strange pain. I thought it was just the situation but the day after his burial I found myself in the ER facing the realization that I had cancer. I've gone through chemo and raditation and have had some set backs and I can't seem to find my footing again. I have a small child and I can't seem to find the strength to be a good parent which is what she desperatly needs. Who am I kidding I need it too. I just can't feel better emotionally if I can't shake all this off and look ahead....
On July 29 I was told I have stage two breast cancer. I have not received any papers to read about it, except what I had the foresight to go get right after my biopsy. I needed something to read while I waited, on vacation, for the test and results. I have not told anyone as of yet, even my husband. I am afraid to do so. Yes he is a very supportive husband. It is just very scary to say and thinking of all the money, we do not have, that will have to go now to try a survive this. I live in California and am going to UCDavis in Sacramento. Should I ask for another reading on the biopsy and where do I ask for it even read by? I do know that I have a long way to go on even knowing the real stages of BC. I so want to be informed and make the right choices for myself and husband. The choices I am going to have to make will come up very fast. I know that I also have a Auto Amuni liver decease called PBC, primary biliary cirrhosis. Been dealing with that for 10 years now. So far I have been in some kind of remission. Is there a more specific to BC support group to go to? I know that it is important to be supported by others that are dealing with grief. Thankyou for any hints.
I have had a lump in my breast for 5 years - in dec 10 I noticed it starting to grow. By the time I had my surgery - double masectomy - the "lump" was 6 cm and stage III and there was a second lump found under it and the other breast had atypical cells. I still feel blessed! Most of my live is pretty good and I have always had an upbeat, positive outlook. But as I am going through 5 months of chemo I have realized that my higher power has always seen to take care of me and I am, was, too much of a workaholic and worked at jobs that I didn't necessarily like. So I started looking and there are two fabulous jobs opening up next this next year and I am going to just go for them! I am a single mom with a 14 year old son that I am so proud of - I have learned that he really does listen and he has been such a blessing. Life is to short to dwell on the negative, as my grandma used to say - no matter what life hands you - get up, get out of bed and show up for it! Love you Grandma!
I don't know how I would change my life. There really is nothing I have a burning desire to do. I never have liked to travel--it's very hard on me physically. I have a very supportive husband who would do anything for me, but no close friends. I have had to give up singing; what voice I had is gone. Neuropathy is in all my extremities and balance is tentative, and I have tremors. I still work part-time but my typing skills are shot. I'm in a pretty negative state. Oh yes, I have epithelioid GBM; it took 2.5 years to get that dx.
P.S.: I was 45, married, and the father of a six-year-old at the time. I had too much to do not to fight this dreaded disease. After those two stem-cell transplants, I am in complete remission and plan to live to watch my son grow into a man.
I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2008. After attending weekly support groups for a few months at the hospital, I realized that I could run a support group. I started a cancer support group at my church, and it continues today.
I took a sabbatical and returned to graduate school so that I could multiply what I do by teaching others.
I have a greater appreciation for each day and for the people in my life.
I AM TRYING TO FIND THE POSITIVE IN MY JOURNEY NOW. MY 2ND TIME W/BREAST CANCER BUT IT HAS MESTASTISIED (SP) IN MY LEFT HIP BONE. ALL I DO NOW IS GO TO WORK AND HIDE IN MY HOUSE. I READ A LOT. I KNOW THERE ARE THINGS I "SHOULD" BE DOING SO I WOULD FEEL BETTER BUT AM SOMETIMES JUST PARALYZED TO DO ANYTHING. i DON';T WORRY ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS ANYMORE NOT LIKE I USED TO. I HAVE A SIGN IN MY HOUSE THAT SAYS "DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY THAT WILL TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY" AT TIMES I FEEL ALMOST FREER THAN I'VE EVER FELT BEFORE IN MY LIFE. I AM 59 YO AND THE DOC SAYS MAYBE I HAVE 5 YRS LEFT. I MIGHT HAVE LONGER THAN THAT BUT I FEEL LIKE I'M WASTING THE TIME I DO HAVE LEFT. I HUG PEOPLE MORE AND TELL THEM THAT I LOVE THEM. I FEEL THAT I AM ALMOST THERE - TO START THE CHANGES SO I CAN ENJOY ALL MY LIFE.
I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma stage IVb last April. I seriously thought my life as I knew it was over. But it wasn't. My husband and son took me to every chemo session (every two weeks) & while they waited a several hours for me to be done, their bond became much closer than before and their relationship strengthened and has never been better. In order to cope with the stress of the cancer diagnosis, I began to road cycle (just like Lance!) & with my husband, son, his fiancee, my daughter & son-in-law (sometimes) we cycled everyday. When I reached the milestone of a 30 mile ride, I was so elated. I never had a sick day during chemo & actually got in the best shape physically of my life. I finished chemo on Oct. 6th, 10 and I feel so lucky to be a survivor. I continue to cycle at least 3-4 times per week & I still love it! My family became much closer than ever before. My son is now in Israel finishing his Ph.D and we skype with him everyday. My husband & I now live in the day & we don't waste one beautiful day on any negative thoughts.
I was diagnosed with stage IIA breast cancer at age 26 in Jan. 2010. I decided after my mastectomy in March 2010 that I would look into nursing school. It had always been in the back of my mind but I did not pursue it when I had the opportunity to in college. I was miserable in the job that I held at that time and knew I would need to be making a change soon anyway. I never felt down or depressed during this time of my life either. I had finally discovered how happy I was just to be alive and how lucky I was to have found the lump on my own. I made sure that I kept finding things to laugh at during this time and I was usually focusing on how I could make others laugh so my diagnosis and treatment was more manageable for them. I finished chemo on my 27th birthday in June 2010 and by that time I had made up my mind that I wanted to pursue an associates degree in nursing since I already had a BA and an MA under my belt. I started my science pre-reqs in Jan. of this year and will by applying to a nursing program in Jan. 2012. I hope to be finished with my nursing program in Dec. 2013 if all goes well. I would like to work in oncology and one day be a breast cancer nurse navigator so I can give to my patients what I was given from my medical team: plenty of hope.
I was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer a year ago at 51. I realized how miserable I was in my marriage, and that I couldn't think about being cured if I had to live one day longer with my husband. So, a week before my surgery, I moved out. My mom found me an executive apartment to live in, near the hospitals. I had to get rid of all of the cancer and that included my husband. It was the best thing I could have done for my health. I continued to work through my treatments and am still trying to get rid of my husband. I haven't considered myself married to him for years.
Cancer made me wake up. I consider myself cured: suppressing and denying my emotions is what got me sick. Feeling and experiencing and expressing those emotions and feeling alive are what has made me well.
I am struggling with what to do next. I have a cozy little apartment, a little flower garden out back and have just bought a community garden plot to plant some cutting flowers. I need to learn about the town I've lived in for 12 years that is still strange to me, I need to start meeting people since I've lived in isolation for so long. I am in a strong, loving relationship with a man who helped save me from the ordeal of going through all of this with a broken heart.
So, to answer the question: I just decided to start living.
After being diagnosed with my BC, I decided to take early retirement and to travel across our country, which I had always wanted to do. I had had cancer on my ovaries in 1978, low grade lymphoma in my colon in 2001, bc in 2002, beta cell cancer on my forhead in January this year, and a melanoma on my back two months ago.
I am awaiting the results of my pet/ct now, and know I will keep fighting. I want to see my grandchildren and great grandchildren grown.
Sometimes the sadness is overwhelming, but once I push it away, I say "I am here, and I will keep fighting". Living with cancer is not easy, but it is doable.
After being diagnosed with a rare cancer and being given a 30% change of a fatal recurrence at the age of 38, I decided that the things I was putting off until after my kids were grown might not be able to wait. Even though I was a total beginner, I started fiddling with a group, and the music and friendships there have provided a richness my life was lacking. I had been afraid of "offending" someone with my bad music, but was able to tell myself that if my time is limited, surely a few people wouldn't mind putting up with it if it meant that much to me. And if my time is not limited, well, by then I'll be a better player. So, two years later, I still don't know if my time is limited, but I have something amazing I wouldn't have had if not "freed" by cancer to take that leap.
During my chemo treatments I could not sleep very well, I'd wake up for hours in the night.I refused to let those negative thoughts fill my mind so I decided to plan something during those sleepless nights. I had always dreamed of hosting a 'Murder Mystery' party. So during those sleepless nights I planned a Murder Mystery plot and party. I planned it would be at the Plummer House in the era of 1930s in the setting of a Speakeasy. After nearly a year of planning every detail of the Murder Mystery I decided if the Plummer House was available on the Oct date I'd planned I'd actually go ahead with the party. It was available! The party was a huge success with 100 guests dressed in 1930 costumes, a concert pianist from New York flew in to entertain there, actors had a murder scene, my entire family got involved. It was a spectacular event. I called it a "Celebration of Life". I don't think I would have ever made that happen if I had not had cancer. People still rave about the best party ever....now 11 years later.
I was diagnsed with primary hypatoma.Surgeon removed the cancerous part and Since feb 2010 I have feeling fine.Last cat scan in feb 2011 did not show antthing .
I am a positive thinker.
But the people arround me think i am dying.
This disappopints me but I gnore it.I am going to be 75 in dec.
After I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer it took a while to get over the shock and feeling sorry for myself but I pulled myself together and started a "Bucket List" for all of the things I would like to do in my life. I think it is important to have goals and appreciate every moment you have on this earth and enjoy your loved ones, you will never get it back or a second chance.
Please look at this website, in particular
"Never Leave Your Wingman". It is the incredible story of a Stage IV cancer survivor.
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