Tag Archive | positive attitude cancer

Perk # 95: Cancer Made Me The Preferred Sister Wife

Bob with his siter wives: Florence, Juana and Sherry

I am very fortunate to have two of my sisters, Sherry and Juana, living so close by.  They were a tremendous help to me during my cancer treatments.  Myself and Juana are both single, and for a long time,  Sherry’s better half, Bob, was the only man on the scene.  So Bob shared his time equally between our three houses, in terms of doing general repairs and maintenance, putting up Christmas lights, digging snow, and other manly chores.   We fondly came to refer to ourselves as Bob’s sister-wives (I should point out that Sherry is the ONLY sister with conjugal rights.)  Since my diagnosis of cancer, I am happy to say that I get more than my share of sister-wife time with Bob.  As soon as anything needs fixing, a message is dispatched: Code red: Florence’s fridge is leaking . Send Bob STAT…….and the repair is done.

When playing sister wives, we fight over who gets to be Robyn

Tip:  It is ok to use your cancer to get stuff fixed around your house.

Perk # 83: Cancer Gave Me A Cause

It’s not like I didn’t have plenty of “causes” to choose from before getting cancer.  Between grappling with anxiety for much of my life, being a single parent, and having a child with autism, I have enough causes to write my own “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book.  I am not the type to take things lying down, and each challenge in life has kicked me into action.  For example, to help me be a better autism mom, I have become a self-made expert in the area of autism (really, ask me anything). I have also read hundreds of self help books to help me cope with my anxiety.  However cancer is the one thing that has motivated me to action to help other people, and therefore I consider it  my cause.  Before you block me from Facebook, or change your phone number, I assure you I will not come to you looking for money to support my cause (well, hardly ever).  You see, my cause is not to raise money, or to help find a cure for cancer, but rather to help others living with this disease to adopt a more positive attitude.  I have therefore decided that when I feel strong and healthy enough, I am going to enroll into a program of study to become a Certified Cancer Coach.

In the past year, I have endured countless tests and procedures, three surgeries resulting in the loss of left breast and associated lymph nodes, six rounds of chemo therapy and 25 radiation treatments.  In that same year, I met my soul mate and fell in love, I started blogging, I accepted an offer to be guest speaker at a breast cancer event, and I was published in a popular national magazine .  The moral of the story is this: just because you have cancer, does not mean that you have to lie down and die.  Best selling author Jon Kabat-Zinn says: “…as long as you are breathing there is more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel.”   Even if the cancer has advanced to stage 4, life goes on.  Take my new friend, Dana Blackwood Cox, for example.   Despite having recently discovered that her breast cancer has metastasized, she is recording her first album and her song, “No Time For You” will help to raise money for breast cancer.  Now that is what I call living life to its fullest!

Dana, singing "No Time For You"


Tip:  Don’t let cancer put your dreams on hold.  Live every day to its fullest.

Perk # 73: Cancer Gave Me Something To Hope For

By modern day definition, hope means to wish for something, without the certainty that it will be fulfilled.  It is an unsure optimism. The bible however, gives a different meaning to the word hope.  In biblical terms, hope is an indication of certainty; a strong and confident expectation.  It is not just wishful thinking, it is a sure belief that what you hope for will come to pass.

I throw around the word “hope” on a daily basis, in the modern sense of the word:  I hope it doesn’t rain; I hope the stain comes out of my new dress; I hope I get a refund on my taxes.  All of these are things which I desire to happen, but I have no confident expectation that they will happen.  If these wishes do not come true, it’s really no big deal.  Hoping for life on that other hand, well that’s a different matter.  It is here that I employ the biblical definition of the word hope.

Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  (Matthew 11:24)  In this quote, Jesus assures us that when we have faith, and truly believe that we will receive, our prayers are certain to be answered.  The power of prayer then, lies not in the asking, but in the belief that what you ask for will be granted.  That is hope.  In that sense, cancer gave me something to really hope for.  I do not “wish” for a full recovery, I “hope”, with certainty that my prayers will be answered.

Tip:  “Refusal to hope is nothing more than a decision to die.” (Bernie Siegel, M.D.)




Perk # 70: Cancer Gave Me A New Way Of Marking Time

On March 15, 2011, I sat in my living room with a few friends, celebrating my friend Sherry’s 44th birthday.  Eventually the conversation came around to Michelle, an acquaintance of ours who was dying from a very aggressive form of breast cancer.  I said, “Look around you ladies.  With the stats as they are, there is a good chance that one of us could get breast cancer.”   Hey, I didn’t mean ME!  I meant Sherry, Jackie or Madonna.  Surely I wasn’t going to get breast cancer.  I was young, healthy, fit, and had no family history.  As if some creepy premonition were unfolding, I found it the very next day: a lump in my left breast.   Life would never be the same.  I do not remember the exact day that I received my diagnosis, or when I had my biopsy or lumpectomy, but I will always mark March 16th as the day cancer came into my life (completely uninvited, I might add).

People mark time by major life altering events, such as when you get married, have children, or move to a new city.  Cancer has become my new way of marking time.  It is as if a line was drawn through my life, and everything has become referenced to the cancer.  When did I buy my Kia?  2011 B.C. (before cancer).   When did Shawn and I take our first holiday together?  2012 A.D. (after diagnosis).

My Grandmother's 90th birthday, Dec. 2010, B.C. (Me, my daughter, my mother and my grandmother)

Ben's 6th birthday, May, 2011, A.D.

You may be thinking that life A.D. cannot possibly be as fulfilling as life B.C.  But that is not necessarily the case.  I believe that happiness and a positive attitude are choices that people make every day.  After I had gone through the grieving process, which took about six months, I was faced with a choice.   I could choose to focus on the pain, suffering and utter devastation that is cancer.  There is no denying that few things in life can rival a cancer diagnosis for the award of “worst thing that could ever happen to you.”  Cancer brings with it the terror of facing an untimely death; uncomfortable and painful treatments and procedures; loss of identity; coming to grips with a new body image; strained relationships; and financial setbacks or ruin.  That is the reality of cancer.

But for some “fortunate” cancer patients, the diagnosis brings with it another reality.   When faced with their mortality, some people come to realize what is really important in life, and then to go on make life altering changes.   I am one of those fortunate people.   What gifts has cancer given me?   Perk # 13: Cancer boosted my self esteem.  Perk # 21: Cancer helped me to find my soul mate.  Perk # 25: Cancer connected me to a powerful prayer network.  Perk # 28:  Having cancer revealed to me a whole new side of my autistic son.  Perk # 34:  Cancer made me realize my own strength.   Having cancer forced me to evaluate my life and make some major changes.   I ended some relationships which were not serving me well, and put more of my energy into those which were.   I identified work environments which were toxic to my spirit and embraced a change in my career.  I started to feed my body nutritious foods, and made exercise and meditation an important part of my day.  As ironic as it may sound, this past year with cancer has been one of the happiest of my life.

Would I give up my cancer?  Absolutely, in a heartbeat!   However, I would not part with the changes that cancer has forced me to make in my life.  Some say that a positive attitude alone cannot cure cancer.  I agree.   However, a positive attitude combined with positive action will give me the best chances of surviving this disease.   If I live another forty years, it will be wonderful thing if I can look back on this year and say that I lived it with happiness, joy and grace.  If I live only one year, then it is even more important that I be able to say I lived it that way.   For that reason, I choose to fight cancer with attitude-a positive attitude.

Perk # 68: Quality Time With My Girl

As a single parent, it is a rare luxury to find quality time to spend one-on-one with my three children.   Today, I am doing just that: spending the whole day with my daughter, Kaitlyn.   Kailtyn was kind enough to take a day off school to come visit me and escort me to one of my radiation appointments.   We are making the most of our time together in the city.  Last night we got dressed up, met some friends at a nice restaurant, and enjoyed a delicious seafood crepe with spinach salad.   We started today with a walk through Bowring Park, where we stopped to feed the ducks, and engage in a lively discussion on whether ducks actually have teeth. (Kaitlyn’s friend, Haley, insists that one smiled at her and she saw a distinct tooth!)

(Hmmmmm, it appears Haley was right)

Next it was off to Cora’s for a healthy brunch, followed by a mini shopping spree.   But alas, all good things must come to an end and by 5:00 I was abandoned for a “friend” who is a boy, but apparently not a “boyfriend”.

Tip:  When you are fighting the Big C, it is even more important than ever to make the most of your time with your loved ones.

Perk # 43: Bank Account Recovery

I just hate that feeling of standing at the banking ATM waiting for my passbook to up-date.   The more “ch-ch-ching-ching’s”  I hear from the machine, the more nervous I get,  knowing  full well that those transactions are stacking up under “withdrawal” column.  Then there is that moment of anticipation, as I hold my breath and scan the bottom line hoping not to see the dreaded “-“ sign.

Luckily, since my chemo started, I have experienced a phenomenon called “Bank Account Recovery”.    Each chemo knocks me down for at least a week to ten days, days that I am rendered unable to shop.  I have been pleasantly surprised at the reduction in my banking transactions, and the resulting bottom line.  Folks, I’m not kidding you, since getting cancer, I have literally HUNDREDS of dollars in the bank!  Now that chemo has ended, I think it may be time to treat myself to a little shopping spree.

Tip:  On those days that you are not well enough to shop, consider it money in the bank.

Perk # 11: Speaking My Mind

I certainly did not consider myself to be at high risk for breast cancer.  There is no family history, I am healthy, I exercise, I don’t smoke, and I generally take good care of my body.  The only risk factor for me has been  stress, largely brought on by years of  holding back my thoughts and feelings, and swallowing anxiety.  I now know that to be kind to my body, I have to honor my feelings by speaking my truth.  No more “sucking it up” for this cancer warrior, from now on I will speak my mind when I feel that my rights are being violated!

Tip:  Be kind to your body, mind, and spirit by standing up for yourself, and speaking your truth in a respectful way.