Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Six Things Cancer Patients Have Taught Me

posted by Beyond Blue

As a graduate student pursuing a degree in theology twelve years ago, I took a course called Systematic Theology–by far my toughest class–by a brilliant professor who was dying of bone marrow cancer. No one knew she was dying. She kept her diagnosis to herself and, as best as she could, covering up her chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

One afternoon she gave us this assignment: If you had only one day left of your life, how would you live it? What would you change about your life now?”

“I would drop this course,” I immediately thought to myself.

The responses were fascinating. Some people would totally rearrange their lives. A woman who worked in the admissions department said she would quit her job and start writing. Others wouldn’t adjust a thing. I was somewhere in the middle: I felt like I was generally going in the right direction, but I could certainly do without researching the Holy Trinity, because it was a mystery after all.

I can’t help but think of that assignment as I read about all the cancer stories in the news these days: Elizabeth Edwards’ cancer has returned, and is incurable, and White House press secretary Tony Snow, after beating colon cancer two years ago, is now battling the same cancer that has spread to his liver.

As a depressive, I learn a great deal from persons suffering from terminal illnesses, because, like them, I’m never totally separated from my disease. The persistent sucker stalks me more than the lady who wants my parking space at Whole Foods, waiting for an opportunity to poke out its unsightly head. When I’ve reached a good place with my depression, I consider it merely a remission. And like cancer patients, I believe that my breakdown has changed me forever, that there is no returning to the blithe and idealistic girl I once was.

The tools that those diagnosed with cancer use to live meaningful lives even as cancer cells metastasize and replace normal tissue in their body are the same rules that help depressives forget about what’s going on in their brains and make the best of their days. After lots of conversations with folks battling various cancers at different stages, I’ve identified these six valuable maxims that they abide by. They are good reminders for me too.

1) One day at a time. Or an hour at a time. Those living by an hourglass can’t afford to get tangled up in the “what ifs” of the future and the “if onlys” of the past. The sick person knows better than anyone that all he has is the moment before him. As Babatunde Olatunji once said, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call if the present.”

2) Feel the fear and do it anyway, as psychologist Susan Jeffers says. Or, as Dr. Abraham Low, founder of Recovery, Inc. would say, “Be self-led, not symptom-led.” Cancer experts have found that patients who approach their diagnosis like an athlete at a major competition fare better than those who give up and stop playing bridge on Tuesday afternoons because they are dying. For me, this means “faking it til you make it,” and forcing myself to go to the preschool social hour and pretend I am genuinely interested in hearing how Timmy’s mom potty trained the precocious boy with the M&M and sticker method when I desperately want to curl up on the couch and concentrate on how miserable I am feeling.

3) Build a strong network of support. Family, friends, online buddies, books, therapy, support groups, church pals…all of it. Support not only makes a sickness more endurable, it can increase a person’s chances of recovery and survival.

4) Do what you love. An older friend of mine with as many health problems as I have issues told me that the only way he has survived it all is to keep on doing the things that give him pleasure: writing and talking to retreat groups about Jesus. When people have a mission–when they feel a part of some greater purpose–their recovery rates are better. If a guy loves to fish, he ought to keep on throwing the worms out even on his bad days. And he is empowered by serving soup to the homeless on Saturday mornings or putting out a newsletter about social justice, then he shouldn’t back away from those activities even if he limps with exhaustion.

5) Think positive. I’ve explained in several posts the brain’s “neuroplasticity,” or our ability to change the brain’s structure and neuronal connections with our thoughts. So it doesn’t surprise me that several studies have shown that positive thinking can contribute to stronger immunity, less stress and fewer toxic side effects from treatment. Kevin Stein at the American Cancer Society teaches cancer patients a three-step method to positive thinking: Stop, Think, Focus. When a patient begins to panic with thoughts like “I can’t do this,” he needs to make a conscious effort to say to himself, “Stop!” (At one point I would wear a rubber band around my wrist and snap it every time I panicked.) In the next step, he must pull out any positive aspect about his illness, such as “I’m going to be okay,” or “I have wonderful support,” or “I am a strong person,” and, finally, he must focus on those thoughts.

6) Appreciation. You never fully appreciate what you have until it’s gone. But cancer (and depression) gives you as good of an opportunity as any to try.



  • http://www.sandyslaga.com Sandy Slaga

    As the Black Hole once again rears its ugly head, I am copying down these tools and putting them in my tool box. And I’m digging into my tool box and pulling one or two out right now.

  • http://HASH(0xce47f58) balance

    I repeatedly swirl around the rim of the a black hole, but adamantly refuse to let it destructively suck me in…sometimes by letting myself go straight through, something akin to Jack Sparrow with the Beasty, and sometimes by so steadfastly gripping the good and beautiful in the world that even if I can’t feel the sun or warmth, I know I will again. Sometimes it’s enough to know a few people surpass all beauty, whether you are in touch with them or not. Sometimes it’s just a ride on a soggy straw raft half submerged but floating none the less in some fashion which has been months. One must keep at what ever one can keep at until a good moment, a kind geeture, a warm memory surfaces…they will, they always will. We must persist in knowing we are here in this life and there is good, and we will find it again and again, no matter how many times we lose it and no matter how many times we lose faith. I know loving what I can always helps me to open the light a little brighter, reducing that tremendous tug of vast blackness, or is it a pinpoint of blackness. Peace will come.

  • http://HASH(0xce49780) Sherrie

    I really appreciated this article. I have so much respect for those who fight cancer and do not mean this thought to trivialize their experiences at all, but at the deepest points of depression and the exhaustion that accompanies it, I have actually caught myself wishing I had been diagnosed with cancer or some terminal illness, just to give myself permission to purge everything from my life that wasn’t important or enjoyable to me and to focus on only the things I cherish. I think one of the great lessons cancer patients teach us is to not wait around for an illness to give us that permission. We must give it to ourselves now, so that not another precious moment of life is wasted on priorities that are not our own. They are fighting for their lives because they have to – but maybe we should fight for our lives every day.

  • http://HASH(0xce497a4) Gloria

    What a great article. I am a cancer survivor and I agree 110% with the six points in the article. Number 1 for me is having a positive attitude. I would have never made it through my treatment and recovery without it. Thanks for writing and sharing this article with others.

  • http://www.cancerclinic.co.in Dr. Sharmin Yaqin

    Dear Ms. Therese, Your article is very inspirational. I truly appreciate the important points you have mentioned to be kept in mind, for they are helpful not only in fighting dreadful diseases like cancer but also to survive other difficulties in life. Cancer is considered synonymous with death. Since my husband and I are into cancer therapeutics (Cancer immunetherapeutics) for the last three years, in India, I can very deeply understand the kind of trauma people face- emotional, physical, social, and yes financial as well. We are also into publishing of a monthly news bulletin, called “Cancer Focus”. The basic purpose is to spread awareness among the general population. Cancer is a highly prevalent disease in India, too, and we always stress upon our patients the fact that will power, positive approach, belief, and courage help in fighting the disease.

  • http://HASH(0xce4c320) Cecilia Davidson

    I am so very grateful and blessed to have survived two different cancers, both Breast and Ovarian. Every thing positive has gotten me through this ordeal. My faith,family,friends,and of course prayers. My everyday mantra would be to say as many times as I could that I am blessed, I am strong, and I am healed. So these six points are also very good. Speak these and of course believe in you healing and God will do the rest.

  • http://HASH(0xce4c608) Sue

    Having lived with depression most of my adult life, I agree! It’s definitely something you must keep in tow and deal with everyday. Though medication like antidepressants do help tremendously, I still have my “good” days and my “bad” days. Your analogy of living with a chronic condition or terminal diagnosis like cancer is right on. In my better times, I just feel like I’m in some sort of temporary remission, waiting for the full-blown ugliness to rear it’s head at any moment. Unless you have had to live day to day with depression, you do not really understand the chronic nature of the beast, literally fighting it on a daily basis. No one ever chooses depression just like no one ever wishes to get cancer. It’s your own private “hell” everyday. And interestingly enough, I have heard many motivational speakers who have battled depression and “won”, and often wondered why I can’t be free of this demon. I find comfort in knowing that there is someone else out there, just like me, that functions perfectly well most days, but understands the true meaning of living with a chronic disease. I will have to take anti-depressants until the day I die, so truly this is a “life-long” terminal illness one might liken to cancer. And yes, the pain can be both emotional and physical! Thank-you for making me feel so “not alone” in my struggles and helping others to understand that it can be just as devastating as the diagnosis of cancer.

  • http://HASH(0xce4cbe4) Victoria

    Thank God for healing in every aspect of life. I am a survivor and with each radiation & chemo treatment, I would recite Isaiah 53:5 and I would let HIM know what HE promised me. Verse reads, But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chatisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stipes we are healed. Thank you for your ariticles. I just want everyone to know that the joy is in the journey, if you keep a positive attitude, there is absolutely nothing that you cannot conquer with that and GOD. Our almighty healer, deliverer, conquerer, our strong tower,our shelter from the storm, our peace, our joy, our everything. Bless His name and God bless you.

  • Barbara Clarke

    I have just found these comments I have just been diagnous with cancer and had my operation I had what we thought a cold sore on my lip but they found out it was cancer and I had 3 cancers in my throat they have taken half of my lip away and cut me from ear to ear but it all looks very neat but quite 8nconfortable I am having my mask made tomorrow and a c.t. scan on tuesday anf the radioaugraphy treatment starts 12 July for 5days a week for 6 weeks so I welcome any advice you can give me.
    Thank you Barbara Clarke

  • Larry Parker

    One thing 99.9% of people simply don’t accept — some due to stigma, others due to squeamishness — is that, just like cancer, depression can often be a fatal disease.
    The risk of suicide compared to the general population is — what? 15 times higher? 25 times higher? And actually, I’m surprised it’s that LOW.

  • Margaret

    After going through the suicide of one of my son’s dear friends–at the ripe old age of thirteen!–with my son and a year or so later that of his ex-Little League coach who was also the father of another friend, I’ve come to see that suicide is an extremely SRLFISH act! Not only does one end his own life, s/he also steals a portion of the life of everyone who loved him/her who’s left behind. Even though there are still many days when I ask God for death because of my depression, I know now that I could NEVER do that to those I love. It does become difficult fighting for some kind of equilibrium on a daily basis, but until the Lord decides it’s my once appointed time, I’ll muddle through. I agree with Larry that it’s surprising that even more of us don’t take that way out of our misery, but I urge any one out there who’s seriously considering ending his/her own life to reconsider! If you’d be leaving only ONE person behind who loved you, that one individual will go through Hell! Ask yourself if the price is worth it, and I think you’ll agree that it isn’t truly an option. It is truly a ‘permanent solution to a temporary problem even though it may be a recurring one. Do you REALLY want those who will mourn your loss to torture themselves wondering why they didn’t see it coming and try to stop it? I know my son fought that with his friend, especially since the friend had confessed his intentions and my son’s naivitee (thirteen, remember) allowed him to think he’d talked his friend out of it.
    If there are any survivors reading this, know that there is NOTHING you could have done if in fact you’d had foreknowledge of someone else’s intentions.Short of locking a person in a room where there are no possible methodsavailable, a person bent on suicide will eventually succeed. It does help to learn the signs which have been identified as markers so that you can be vigilant and encourage the potential victim to seek professional help, but there’s no way anyone else has the power to actually prevent another’s suicide. Most of us know the depths that produce suicidal thoughts intimately, and the only life we can truly save is our own by getting the help we need to climb a rung or two higher out of the abyss.

  • Kathleen Whipple

    Hi God Bless I’m not a cancer survivor but I have aserious lung disease COPD on continuese oxygen, so I can relate. What is they say only the strong survive. I think I’m mostly in good spirits or try to be it makes me feel better. I get very depressed but that’s normal and I think ok once in a while. Then I think I am still breathing so to speak, but alive and thinking there is someone out there worst off than I am. I have God, my family and friends. It gets real hard at times but hang in there, with me thank you. hope this finds everyone in good spirits.

  • mary fox

    I just found out a couple of days a go. One of my friends father is dying of cancer.Right now the only thing I can do is to be there for him.Sometimes it doesn’t seem like enough.

  • Sue

    Having lost mom to a fast cancer last year, I very much agree with this article. Just a month before she was diagnosed, she went on her trip she had always wanted to take to Ireland where her ancestors were from. I did not know till recently that she had tried to get several family members to go with her, but the timing was not right for them, so she just went anyway. I figure this must have disappointed her a lot, but I am glad she went on her own even so. It makes the point of “one day left” even if you didn’t know you did.

  • Anonymous

    I am now in my 23thrd year of my battle. My frist was 1985 thyroid cancer, my docter told me I would have to take a pill the rest of my life, I have yet to take the frist thyroid pill. My second was 1994 5id overan cancer, in1989 they told me I had a sisk the size of a orange, I was told this up untill 1994 by that time it had got up to the size of a grapefruit they said. Two days after being told this 1994 I went into emergance sergary, it was a 5pound cancer. I was in RALIEGH NC away from home so the DR that did my sergary was not my DR. He told me when iI came through recovery that if he were my regaler DR he would be telling me I had a complete histaractamy and would be going on kimo. He said I was eat uup with cervical cancer, but he could not touch it by not knowing and I had only signed forms to remove what they said was a sisk the size of a grapefruit. I then went untill 1999 before my last cancer you got it cervical cancer. Complete hisatarecctmy and kimo, carbaplatnum/tacksel. I think I spelled that right. Its the strongest kimo there is.IF you had it you know what I mean. It takes 45mins to run tagament and 5 hours yo run the carbaplatnum.. I was to have 3 treatments, had only 1 untill this day 8 years later I have not been back to any DRS. I DONT TAKE MEDS NOT EVEN A ASPRINE. ITS BEEN 23 YEARS OF FIGHTING AND STILL STRONG AS THE DAY I WAS TOLD OF MY FRIST. YOU SEE EVERY THING IS A MIND OVER MATER. YOUR MIND CAN HEAL ANYTHING IF YOU LET. I AM NOW WRIGHTING A BOOK HOPE YOU WILL GET TO READ WHEN I AM THREW, I HOPE YOU WILL SEE IT THE SAME WAY.I AM LIVING PROOF THAT YOU DONT HAVE TO TAKE THAT THYROID PILL AT ALL. I HAVE TILL THIS DAY YET TO TAKE THE FRIST ONE.

  • ROSA

    i forgot to post my name /email rosalbrooks@yahoo.com ROSA L BROOKS MIND OVER MATER sep 16 2007

  • Rick Siegert

    You are giving excellent advice. I have been battling Moderately Severe depression all of my life. And I have just beat, I fully believe, Prostate Cancer which was caught very early on.
    Even though this is not the direction of your articles, I would like to make one point about finding out that you or a loved one has Cancer. Research, Research, Research! The internet has a lot of research information, just be aware of the credibility and dates of the studies or articles. Some articles and studies that were excellent resources for 10 years ago are completely useless now, due to advances made in treatment since then. One hospital gave me a pamphlet of choices that was written by a patient in 1996. The general philosophy was good, but the details were hopelessly out of date. Nothing given to me in the packet indicated it.
    Secondly. research the treatments and physicians. You want the most experienced one that you can find and afford, as well as the one versed in the most different treatments for your type of cancer, as well as the hospital. I have a nationally known educational hospital 8 miles from where I live. The Head of the Urology department is known as a national expert in his specialty of treatment. Unfortunately, he knows only the one treatment and the hospital is very far behind in the other treatments. His treatment is good for the right patients, but I believe it is a disservice to the majority.
    I wound up at a hospital 900 miles from where I live because they had the best treatments for me. I was fortunate in my insurance, but I could have had similar care at a state university the next state over which was 3 1/2 hours away, and they have an arrangement for discounted housing.
    In other words, there is always a way to make things work!
    And never, Give up hope! There are always miracle remissions and treatment effects.
    Thanks,
    Rocl

  • Joan Sisto

    I am brand new to cancer-happening to me-as I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 26, 2007. The tumor was only 1 centimeter, but it still required surgery. I had a mastectomy this past Wednesday, came home the next day, and am having a fairly easy recovery. I am so fortunate that I had a mammogram and it was discovered so early. There is no metastisis. I am undergoing reconstruction immediately, and it really isn’t so bad. In fact, I feel great, my attitude is positive, and I feel very blessed to have the friends and family offering so very much support.
    The most disconcerting part of this was that I received the news that I had breast cancer on my answering machine on a Friday evening. Needless to say, it was quite a long weekend. Secondly, I had a CT scan in May for another situation and then a repeat CT scan in July. I received a call from the nurse working with my Oncologist. She stated that my CT scans had been compared and I had new lesions on my liver from the July scan which meant I had liver cancer and would need Chemotherapy. She reiterated this with my daughter, who is a nurse. We were stunned but couldn’t see how this could happen so rapidly and found she had made a serious mistake, which has never been admitted, and I do not have liver cancer. I changed oncologists immediately and had three other doctors check these tests. They all concurred that I am fine, but I can’t help but wonder how many people just take what is told them without question. My story could have had quite a different ending if we hadn’t caught the error and done something about it.
    I want to encourage others facing any health challenge to be in charge of your health, use the internet to become educated about your situation, ask questions until you understand the answer, ask about alternatives, get 2nd and 3rd opinions, and listen to your intuition when choosing your health care providers. Put together the team that will do the best for you and that you trust and feel comfortable with.
    Remember that God never gives us more than we can handle and He is there for you every step of the way.

  • Susie Rubin

    I was diagnoised in May and had mastectomy with immediate reconstruction in June. I have been a nurse for 31 years, but nothing prepared me for the feelings of helplessness and depression I felt. My tumor was 5 cm., 5 out of 18 positive nodes. How did I miss it? Then I realized God was giving me yet another test. I found out that when I didn’t feel I could do all this I prayed and asked everybody I talked to that day to do the same, I woke the next morning and felt a burden lifted. Now as I sit in a chair awaiting my second chemo I look around and see a room full of people all positive and laughing, that I’m not alone and people do survive in spite of the hardships they endure.
    So I send this message that this to shall pass. I will survive! Life will go on it will just be more of a challenge.

  • Joe Del

    I am a volunteer and I can simply say. Thanks be to GOD for an other day, everybody.
    May GOD bless you ALL.

  • Luann Driscoll

    My mother-in-law is in her almost last stages of cancer, she had breast cancer about 5 yrs ago then May of this year 2007 she was diagnoised with cancer in her hip, lmyph nodes,liver and kidneys, she lived everyday to her fullest the best she could. she remained going out on the first Wednesay of the month with her lady friends they called it “Ladies Night Out” the even rented a limo for one of the nights about a month ago, she had a wonderful time. she has taught me that no matter how bad it gets keep your spirit up and try not to let yourself give up thou there were days she would say she is tired of being sick she still tried her best to remain focused on the good part of life. her kids would take time to go stay an week or two with her, well now that the cancer has spread to her brain she is forgetful alot . Now comes my time to go stay with her and i too will try and keep her spirits up and not let her see a sad side of me. she has been a wonderful mother-in-law to me so i feel i should give her some of my time , i thank you for giving me this opportunity to write this just so everyone else can feel better about feeling sad for their loved one but on top also to feel grateful that soon they will be all out of the pain and trouble they are enduring thru these last moments of their lifes. God has a purpose and a call for each of us and i feel this is my call since i was a nurses aide when i was younger which i am 48 right now which my health is’nt the greatest but i feel god will give me strength to handle this time of my life i feel it is a purpose .

  • Sandy

    What I would like to say is that you can get through cancer diagnosis and treatment. You need to get information and second opinions if you feel it is needed. I think the main thing is to be positive and keep a smile on your face. Don’t start feeling sorry for yourself, things happen and we can find the best in ourselves if we reach down far enough. I made up my mind after the shock of being told that you have breast cancer wore off that I was not going to let it make me sick, that I would go to my job everyday and do my job. That worked for me, I was doing my normal thing and I did not let the cancer change my life. I think that is the secret to getting through the treatments and saying your prayers.

  • Terry Smith

    I am a cancer survior as well. Over 20 years I was diagnois through a DNC that I had inoperable cancer, that I needed kemo and radiation and probably would die anyhow. Well I shut down and refused to do anything I was just 28 and just had my 4th child and husband had left me for another woman. My family came in and told me if I didn’t get a 2nd opion that they would have me committed . This scared me worse than the cancer, my sister went with me to see if I heard the doctor right and he was so cold and uncaring that my sister said that will be the last time you will see him. He told her are you a nurse or doctor what makes you think you will understand anymore than she does. My sister was so mad she took me to her doctor who did say he understood how doctor 1 could think that it was inaoperable but thought he could fix it with a hysecetomy. Well 23 years later I have out lived all my siblings and
    still wonder why I have survived and what my purpose is here

  • Chad

    My brother is 47 yrs old and in the latest stages of Squamous cell Carcinoma cancer. Also known as asphugus cancer, It is very difficult to diagnois and even more difficult to treat. He just found out he had cancer in the begining of September 2007 because a loss of voice. We found out that it has spread to his spine, neck, throat, and lmyph nodes. My family prays for him everyday and we realize that there is a larger picture here. He remains strong willed and brings great joy to me when he smiles. The important thing is he remains positive and has a good attitude. There is only one place he could find that kind of strenght and I can only hope to be half as strong as he is. Even on his rough days when I ask how are you doing today? He says “good”. I have six children and feel he is an inspiration to all of us and there is a larger plan in store for all of us..

  • Lorna

    My friend Marie has cancer. She is an inspiration to me in so many ways. Her first bout was with ovarian cancer… not good news as far as cancer goes! She had a full hysterectomy and a round of chemo that made her very sick. She lost weight, along with other very unpleasant symptoms. Despite it all, she kept up her good humour and positive spirit. She is such a fighter and has demonstrated this fighting spirit throughout her life, despite years of torturous depression. The doctors told her that 5 years clear was the benchmark (but rare). She did everything possible to ensure her health… exercise, eating right, positive spirit etc. Unfortunately, the cancer returned just short of the 5 years, in the form of a large tumour which also infiltrated the bowel. After surgery, there were further complications, in that she couldn’t move her leg… some nerve damage! She then had to endure another bout of chemo. Yet her unwaivering belief and tireless effort has resulted in her being able to now run 5 km… a great feat for the healthiest among us!! She is a fabulous cook and finds time and energy to bake cakes for the local coffee shop. She makes an awesome Lemon Meringue Pie!! I love that she is doing things she loves.
    She has recently had another scare… I hope that all will be well. She has helped me so much in my own recovery from illness with her positive spirit.
    I pray that God protects this wonderful human being.

  • Anonymous

    God bless you all and you are a wonderful inspiration to others and remember God is always there for you and thats the most important thing of all. He will never leave you just abide in Him !!!

  • Susan

    Thank you so much for writing this. It was wonderful. Though I don’t suffer from cancer at this time I do tend towrard the depressive. I never thought about treating myself like a cancer patient in order to go on with my life. I appreciate the 6 things learned by people who cope with much more physically than I do. I hope you feel well today!
    Susan

  • Deborah Rice

    I was originally diagnosed with Stage I cancer in 1989. I went through a Clinical Trial with six months chemotherapy and five years of Tamoxifen.
    In 2004 I fulfilled a dream of moving to the beach in North Carolina. Nine months later I was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer with bone metastases. Away from the medical community I was familiar with (I worked at a hospital in Ohio) I was very anxious about the care I would be able to get in this little town on the coast.
    It is now nearly three years later and I just returned from a trip to Paris with my daughter where we purchased her wedding gown for her April wedding here on the coast.
    I have been through many trials and challenges in this three years but can say that I am living the life I choose now. I retired early. I have traveled when possible and am an advocate in my community for others living with cancer. I run the breast cancer support group at my local hospital. I am Co-Chair for the 2008 Relay for Life. I am finishing a book to be published in the Spring about living a quality life with cancer.
    Getting cancer again has reminded me of many of the things I forgot over that 16 year interlude. I give thanks for every day as a present. I am grateful for all that I have. I smile even when no one is watching and I pass on my attitude to all those I can reach.
    I am living a life I love and could not imagine being any place else at this point. It may not be the the hand I wish I had been dealt but it is how I am playing that hand that matters most.

  • Beverly

    In September of 2002 I was engaged to be married for the first time at the age of 41 years old. Six weeks before my wedding I was diagnoised with metastatic breast cancer that had gone to bones in my back. My local oncologist said it was incurable and was going to put me on the medicine tamoxifen. No chemo, no radition, just that pill.
    Unhappy with my prognosis and the “treatment plan”, I got a second opinion, started extensive chemotherapy, had a total of 72 radiation treatments, and had a stem cell transplant in 2003 at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX.
    While lying in that hospital bed in Houston with my blood counts almost non-existent I realized that no matter how many family members or friends you have around you, in the end it’s just you and God.
    When my body was so weak that I felt I could no longer hold onto Gods hand I prayed that He would hold on to mine – and He did.
    It is now 3 years since my transplant. My local oncologist says I’m a miracle. And I know that it’s true.
    Am I ever afraid that the cancer might come back? Of course I am. But on those days when I’m afraid I think back to a card a friend gave me years ago. It said: “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in God even when I don’t feel Him.”

  • Doe

    July 2007 – I was recently diagnosed with stage 1 cancer. After the biopsy they needed to go back in for the cluster. Well pathology showed that the margins were too close for comfort so the Dr. suggested a third intrusion to my body, only to find that it is in a diffused pre invasive state in my body and they need to do yet another major surgery. I have great peace within me and my higher power that I am not fearful of the steps I take each day. The greatest downfall I see is that it (the pain afterwards) slows me down from doing things I normally do and like to do. I have been blessed with a daughter and a son and my concern is them…I don’t want them to internalize this journey we travel today. My baby girl will have to be more alert to the possibilities of this afflicting her in the future. My Son my little warrior is another little product of love that hurts deeply and will not let go easily. How I handle this will ultimately affect my little wonders. I hug my children regularly and they hug me. Being a single parent puts me in a position to handle most situations in our little home singlehandedly. We do well together and we all suffer when we are apart even if it is not said between us we do feel the impact of when we have spent too much time apart. I have 3 sisters that are here for me in their own way. My challenge at this time is telling them everything I go through to give them an understanding of this particle that wants to make a home in my body. I have made up my mind that this particle will not get more wind from me, I choose not to give this power over me and my life. I believe that I am making the most sound decisions I can make for my life without letting any one else feel the burden of making decisions for me. There are alot of unknowns out there because everyones’ journey is unlike the next persons. We tend to depend on the experts guidance of what to do next, only to realize in our quiet times that we as patience are just as unknown to the experts as the unknowns are to us. So I find myself in positive self talk often and share that with my little ones, for it is in hearing that self talk in a positive manner that it re-enforces my inner strength that is sometimes weak.
    I have taken the initiative to help my kiddos through this by signing us up at a Family Health and Wellness Gym open to the public. What they can not put into words will be worked out of their systems each work out session. It is the healthiest way I know to help them physically handle this. I take care of the food, spiritual and social guidance for them outwardly and they are in charge of their physical. My family is a wonderful support system, only this has truly caught us all off guard which has left us with many many thoughts going through our minds so fast we don’t know what to say first, last or in between. I am taking up writing to them and to my extended families to be able to send complete messages, to encourage freer communication. I have loved life and lived it well that I have no regrets and look forward to more memories to be made. Thank you for this site. Mama Doe

  • billie jean shy

    November 3, 2007 my brother wayne shy died of a massive heart attack.
    We buried him on November 9, 2007. Afterwards on November 26, 2007 my only sister was diagnosed with ovarian stomach and liver cancer. I was sad at first but now I pray for her to have courage strenghth love and last trust that God makes no mistakes and it’s how we respond when faced with challenges that let’s God know you are growing spritually in the word of God the bible. Any one can smile we everything is going good in their lives health wealth and relationships.Though you have friends and family and church support at the end of the day it’s just you and the Lord so be avised to get a personal relationship with him. May God Bless whom ever reads this in both light and dark issues in their lives. billie jean

  • Aida

    I like the personal touch you gave to those who are depressed because of cancer. I shared this to my friend who is a cancer patient herself (she has a breast cancer). I haven’t heard from her yet but I am sure she will be inspired by this article.
    Thanks for inspiring people even if they are not cancer patients or afflicted with this disease being feared by everyone.
    God bless.

  • Arvilla Samples

    I have CLL and have been treated for four years.The treatment I was on stoped working so now I,m on a new treatment of I,vs.After alittle time we have found the right mix that works for me. Thank you for the encouraging article.I have been very possotive about this ,but my husband has not.Theres a very big misstrust of Dr.in his past,so he is not doing as well as I am.Prayers are very needed ,Thank you all and God Bless you all. Arvilla Samples

  • Teeny

    I am a seven year survivor of breast cancer. It was God that pulled me through, He and Family and friends. I had my cancer five years before my family found out in 2000.In 1999 my daughter and her children became victims of crime. One of the intruders kicked me in my breast where the cancer was, so that brought everything into the open.
    On Nov.1st 2000 my mother passed away and on Dec. 2nd 2000 I had my right breast removed. From Jan.11th 2000 until July 17, 2000, I had to take Chemo.
    I pray for everyone who has any illness. May God keep us in his Grace
    Sister Kelly

Previous Posts

Seven Ways to Get Over an Infatuation
“Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered am I” wrote US songwriter Lorenz Hart about the feeling of infatuation. It’s blissful and euphoric, as we all know. But it’s also addicting, messy and blinding. Without careful monitoring, its wild wind can rage through your life leaving you much like the

posted 12:46:43pm Feb. 19, 2014 | read full post »

When Faith Turns Neurotic
When does reciting scripture become a symptom of neurosis? Or praying the rosary an unhealthy compulsion? Not until I had the Book of Psalms practically memorized as a young girl did I learn that words and acts of faith can morph into desperate measures to control a mood disorder, that faithfulness

posted 10:37:13am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

How to Handle Negative People
One of my mom’s best pieces of advice: “Hang with the winners.” This holds true in support groups (stick with the people who have the most sobriety), in college (find the peeps with good study habits), and in your workplace (stay away from the drama queen at the water cooler). Why? Because we

posted 10:32:10am Jan. 14, 2014 | read full post »

8 Coping Strategies for the Holidays
For people prone to depression and anxiety – i.e. human beings – the holidays invite countless possibility to get sucked into negative and catastrophic thinking. You take the basic stressed-out individual and you increase her to-do list by a third, stuff her full of refined sugar and processed f

posted 9:30:12am Nov. 21, 2013 | read full post »

Can I Say I’m a Son or Daughter of Christ and Suffer From Depression?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, we read: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” What if we aren’t glad, we aren’t capable of rejoicing, and even prayer is difficult? What if, instead, everything looks dark,

posted 10:56:04am Oct. 29, 2013 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.