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The power of living beyond cancer

It’s crazy to realize that it’s been five years since I finished treatment to clear breast cancer. My third cancer. As I reflect on the past five years, and 27 years as a cancer survivor, I also am embracing the power of living beyond cancer. What does living beyond cancer mean? Keep reading for insight into one of my favorite mottos.

Acknowledging the experiences that shaped me

Ready to fly into a new chapter!

June is a big month in my life cycles. Ironically, I completed treatment for bone cancer and breast cancer in June. And while not every cancer survivor acknowledges cancer anniversaries, I do. Acknowledging these milestones is a reminder of what I’ve overcome and how far I’ve come, and also to throw my arms open to opportunities that await me. Cancer anniversaries mean something different to each person, but my milestones are when I finished treatment and put an end to that chapter. Most years I like to do something active, like a long hike or bike ride, to feel the strength of my healthy body. Some years, I invite family or friends to join me. But I often like the alone time to reflect.

There are always many emotions accompanying a cancer anniversary. Truth is, I hate the disease and all that comes with it. I hate that my body had to suffer through treatment and side effects; hate the fear, anger, anxiety, sadness and other heavy emotions that come with it; hate that it heavily impacted so many areas of my life, including relationships, motherhood and more. I hate that it sticks in the back of my mind and is often the one thing I think about every day.

But I also refuse to spend time on hate. It becomes an empty, heavy emotion. And I’d rather focus on the positive, light, joy and ease that I can find in so much else in my life. I’ve learned a lot since my first diagnosis at 21 years old, and learned and experienced even more in the past five years.

Truth is is that cancer doesn’t go away from your mind (and sometimes your body) when ‘treatment’ ends. And the reality of a disease like breast cancer is that while chemo and radiation may end, you still continue to manage other treatments. I started an estrogen inhibitor shortly before radiation ended and will be on it for another three to five years. It’s brought an array of not fun side effects, plus the downside of surgical menopause. But I’ll still take the opportunity to celebrate a completion – and in ‘medical terms,’ I am five years beyond treatment.

I look at it like a new unwritten chapter awaits. And I do love opportunities awaiting a new blank, fresh chapter! While I’ve faced physical side effects and mental health struggles since treatment ended, I CHOOSE every day to celebrate living and throw my arms open to possibilities.

“You can’t always control what happens to you, but you can choose how you react and respond.”

~Heather Hall

The power of living beyond cancer

I’ve been thinking about the idea of living beyond cancer a lot. I came up with the phrase after hearing ‘you have cancer’ at 21 years old. It means a lot to me – embracing life every day, no matter what you’re going through. Even during treatment and side effects, I tried to focus on enjoying something in the day not related to cancer. Instead related to LIVING.

Cancer doesn’t define me. It doesn’t control my life. Yes, it has influenced decisions and commitments at times. But I am more than a cancer survivor. I am me. Many pieces create me. Just like many pieces create YOU (cancer survivor or not).

(What a difference 5 years makes in these pictures – last day of treatment in 2019 (after cold capping to save my hair!) and in Santorini, Greece two weeks ago. Throwing my arms open to ALL the amazing possibilities in this beautiful life!)

And now I’m at a point in my life that I am truly ready to embrace the power of living of beyond cancer. On my own terms.

I sometimes feel like a butterfly coming out of the dark cocoon, ready to fly into the exciting, new experiences.

There are many goals and plans for my life. I am focused on manifesting much joy, ease, love and abundance in my life. From my career to finding love in a relationship to new friendships to more travel and adventures to….so much more.

But I also want to simply be present in the moment of NOW. To appreciate the simple things in each day, the people in my life, the breaths I am blessed to take.

I am committed to being a positive change in this world. I promised my 21-year-old self that when I cleared bone cancer, I would help others and use my voice to help make the world a better place for ALL. And while I am still figuring out what that totally means, I am ready to surrender those ideas to the universe to see where it takes me. I do know that I’m ready to really embrace living beyond cancer – it’s time to focus less on what I’ve gone through with cancer and more on who I am and what I want to create in this world.

Moving beyond cancer

I will always support and advocate for cancer survivors and families, and fight for positive change in policy and society. So you will definitely continue seeing cancer resources and tips here – I am a cancer survivor, this is my life too.

But, after years of interaction with others at workshops, retreats and engaging with this blog, I also believe that I can be a positive good for many people. So I’m also excited to announce the expansion of Heather’s Hangout!

As I’ve grown as a human being, so too have my interests and skills. My experiences as a cancer survivor, woman and more have helped me develop skills and cultivate resources. And I want to offer more to my community, like you reading this. This website will continue to house my blog (and lots of good topics in the pipeline here!), but also share upcoming workshops, speaking gigs, coaching, resources and more. I’m super excited and optimistic about what’s to come – and so very grateful that you are here with me.

Let’s stay connected

There is lots of new stuff coming your way soon! Want to hang out with me and stay in the loop? Subscribe today and you’ll be among the first to receive new posts and my monthly newsletter with updates, special announcements, freebies and more.

I’m really excited and hopeful to see where this next phase takes. I’m also admittedly nervous. The unknown can be a little scary, can’t it? But I guess that’s life in a nutshell – the unknown is always just that, until we experience it and it becomes what we know. Today I’m going to choose to focus on and embrace how far I’ve come the past few years. I love my life. And am so grateful and blessed to be alive, healthy and have so much joy in the days. Today (and every day) I’m celebrating the power of living beyond cancer!

How about YOU? What are you choosing to celebrate today? I’d LOVE for you to share in the comments.

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