Cancer Tips Life

Cancer taught me these 25 lessons

June is an impactful month for me. Two cancer anniversaries for me. Days to pause in the hustle of life and reflect on the challenges I’ve overcome and the opportunities I’ve embraced. Today is one of those special days. Twenty-five years ago I finished bone cancer treatment. I was 22. I learned a lot about myself in that time. I’ve learned a lot more since then. But for today, keep reading to learn how cancer taught me these 25 lessons.

A young woman’s hope

Clearing osteosarcoma meant an aggressive, 13-month (in patient hospital) treatment with four horrible chemo drugs and a surgery that replaced part of my femur and tibia with titanium. I was bald, on crutches for 7 months, learned to walk again after surgery, endured multiple blood transfusions, and often felt like life was passing me by while I laid sick in a hospital bed.

When treatment finally ended 25 years ago, I left the hospital feeling nervous, anxious, uncertain. My ‘safety net’ of treatment and regular doctor appointments was being yanked. But, even back then, I was an optimistic, hopeful young woman. So my heart was also courageous, strong and ready to throw my arms open to the next chapter. And I’ve tried to channel that young woman’s hope every day since. [Read “A Young Woman’s Promise”]

It’s tough to think of learning lessons when in the weeds of a challenge like cancer. But valuable insight can come when you’re open and ready to see it.

I could write a book about all that I’ve learned as a cancer survivor (stay tuned!). But for today, I’ll share this list below with the hope that at least one resonates with you and inspires you to face the day with a heart full of love and courage, and arms open to possibilities.

Cancer taught me these 25 lessons:

  1. Appreciate the simple moments.
  2. Every plot twist, whether good or bad, is an opportunity to write a new narrative. Use that pen wisely!
  3. When you’re thinking a compliment about someone, share it with them.
  4. Get your body moving – physical activity benefits overall health. [Read “Easy tips to stay active”]
  5. Explore beyond your community when possible. Learning about other cultures helps you grow too.
  6. Overcoming fear, making progress, and reaching your goals happen when you take the first step. Take a deep breath, trust in yourself and take that step!
  7. Stand up for others and educate yourself on issues outside of those that impact you (you might be surprised by how connected we all are!). The world is big enough for all of us to succeed, and be happy and healthy. Helping others positively impacts you too!
  8. Being your genuine self can make a positive impact on others. You be you!
  9. Share a smile with a stranger. You never know what others are going through.
  10. Don’t settle in relationships, whether intimate or friendships. You deserve to be respected, supported, cared for and happy (and provide it back).
  11. Learn to listen well (we have two ears and one mouth for a reason).
  12. Take care of your body, but don’t restrict yourself so much that you don’t enjoy life!
  13. Let others know you care – don’t wait to say thank you, give gratitude, share your feelings.
  14. Remember that you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can choose how you react and respond.
  15. Get out of your comfort zone – try a new activity, food, trip, whatever. Being uncomfortable for a few minutes can sometimes lead to the best outcome!
  16. Help others when you can. Show your support, stand up to bullies.
  17. Have a great relationship with your health care team – trust, open communication and listening to your concerns are essential to being proactive with your health and help minimize anxiety, fear and overthinking. [Read “5 tips for choosing a new doctor”]
  18. Stay in the present moments – don’t ‘future trip.’ Learn to stay grounded by focusing on your breath and practice acknowledging gratitude.
  19. Take a break from technology to enjoy the present moments of ‘real-life.’ Get outdoors, talk to people in person, close your eyes and appreciate your breath, pay attention to the world around you!
  20. You’re always enough. Only you can let someone tell you otherwise.
  21. You decide your definition of success, not someone else/society.
  22. Time is the most precious gift and form of currency. Use it wisely.
  23. Don’t live your life in comparison of others or always wanting what others have. Create your life. And then live it.
  24. You’re allowed to change your opinion when you learn something new; in fact, being open-minded is super cool.
  25. Always choose joy.

Always learning

The reality is that I’ve learned an awful lot more than these lessons. But, as I started writing this post, these are the thoughts that popped into my head so decided to share with you!

Do any of these resonate with you? Have you learned other lessons from clearing cancer or being a caregiver/supporting cancer survivors? I’d love for you to share in the comments to help inspire others!

I’d also love for us to hang out more often.

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