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What I've Learned About Cancer

Last updated: March 2020

Cancer is a horrible and scary disease. No one wants to ever hear the words, "You've got cancer.” However, I believe that we can think of it as a positive if we try.

Cancer's impact on me and my family

My mom died from lung cancer. When this happened, it was devastating for me. I hated that she was gone and I missed her terribly. I still do. My mom loved life and I decided I would try to enjoy at least something every day. Then, I found out I had cancer. It was another big blow. When I found out it had metastasized to my lungs, I started to search for anything that would help me stop the progression of my cancer. But I still saw the importance of enjoying each day. Then my daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma at age 25 and all of my focus went to helping her get better. Luckily, she is doing well and is back to enjoying her life. This has freed me up to go back to trying to find a little enjoyment in each day.

Lovin’ life

I have spent so many years raising my family and worrying about paying bills. I’ve tried to save for the future and consider myself a hard worker. Many times, I put off something I would enjoy so I could work or go to school. Those days are over now, and I’ve decided to do the things I’ve always wanted to do. For example, I’ve wanted a pontoon boat for some time. This past summer, I bought one! My husband and I invested in a camper and will be traveling in it when we retire.

As far as retirement goes, I am going to retire earlier than I planned. I won’t make the money I would have if I waited, but life is short. I can’t get those years back and none of us know how many years we have. I want to enjoy my life while I’m still in decent health. I know one day my cancer may spread more, but while I’m in watch and wait mode, I want to enjoy everything I can. Crystal, my daughter, feels the same. She is starting to make a lot of changes in her life as well. She has been on a few adventures all by herself and has enjoyed them so much. She's thinking about a new career path and is hoping for a serious relationship in the near future. I don't remember the exact quote, but Steve Jobs once said something about if you're unhappy for too many days in a row, it's time to change something. That's what Crystal and I both decided to do.

Lessons learned from cancer

What I’ve learned is that you can’t go back and take away the words, "You have cancer," but you can enjoy your life as much as possible in spite of the disease. Every morning, I think of something I’m grateful for, I take a couple of deep breaths, and I say a prayer or two before I start the day. I’ve learned a lot about trying to be healthy and I feel better than I’ve felt in a long time. Before cancer, I ate really badly and did very little exercise. After cancer, this has changed. I felt awful. So many things have changed in my life, but I only want to focus on the good things. I want to enjoy my family, my boat, and my camper. Think about what’s important and try to enjoy yourself in spite of cancer. We have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

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