Examples of how to "Live Your Life...Not Your Cancer"

by GregP_WN

At WhatNext, we are fond of the quote "Live Your Life....Not Your Cancer". What does that mean exactly? Very simply, it means to not get bogged down in your "cancer life". Cancer is a major part of your life while you're going through it, but it doesn't have to be all of it. Take every chance you get to do some things that are as far away from cancer as you can get. 

Live Your Life Not Your Cancer Banner

We all deserve to have a mind that is free and clear of all negative thoughts, visions of cancer trying to kill us and not think about all of the side effects that we are left with. If only just for a day, week, or even just a few hours. Here are some examples of how to "Live Your Life....Not Your Cancer".

There's no mistaking that cancer will get you down. You will have days that suck big, you will have days when you can't even get out of bed. There will even be several days in the hospital. But not all days will be like that. There will be days that you feel good, maybe even almost normal, there will be days where you feel OK, not great, but well enough to get out of the house and go for a walk or a drive. Take advantage of every moment that you can and squeeze as much life into them as you can. 

So here are some things you can do on a budget, and a few examples of what other WhatNexters have done to keep this thought.

Living Your Life, Not Your Cancer on a Budget

1) The family is first. There are lots of things you can do with your Family that won't cost a lot. When you've been cooped up in the house recovering from a surgery or getting over the last treatment, having your friends and Family over for a cookout or even just to sit around and talk over drinks and snacks is valuable time, well spent. A popular quote says that "tomorrow is never promised so take advantage of today". I don't want to be laying on my death bed having regrets that I didn't do enough things with my Wife or kids.  

Zigler Don't Know What Tomorrow Will Bring

2) What do you love to do? Hiking, camping, swimming, fishing? Whatever your favorite hobby is, DO IT! Don't wait for the perfect day with perfect weather, get out there and do it! Make memories. Some of those trips when weather and circumstances aren't perfect make some of the best memories. In the picture below "Lira'sgirl33" had hiked to the top of the highest mountain in her area, stood on the top and yelled "I did it!" I spoke to her about this in an interview with her about her cancer journey. She routinely went on short trips, camping, hiking and just doing things that she and her kids loved to do. Her cancer was aggressive and took her a couple years ago. RIP 

Live Your Life Not Your Cancer Lirasgirl33 Mountain Climbing

3) Take a trip to visit relatives or friends that you haven't seen in a while. How many times have you spoken to someone on the phone who lives miles away from you and you both agree that you have got to get together and visit more often? Do it now, take the next weekend and take the drive. A little gas money and some eats along the way and you can spend a weekend away from home, catch up with some old friends or distant relatives and live a little life. 

Vacation

4) What's that one thing that is kind of out there that you have always wanted to do, but have been having to work up the nerve to do it? Ride a motorcycle, take a ride on a screaming rollercoaster, go scuba diving, take a helicopter tour, go skydiving? One of these might cost a few dollars, but you don't have to spend money like your made of it every day of your life to simply "live life". Take a leap, splurge once or twice and go do something that you have always wanted to do. 

In the picture below, WhatNexter MarianneT is obviously taking a "leap of faith". She said she had always wanted to go skydiving, so after treatment was over, she did just that!

Marianne T Skydiving

5) Do you like the water? How about kayaking? Have you had your eye on a shiny new boat but have been holding off? Take the plunge and get that thing and go get wet! Or, on a budget, take your old boat and get out there on the water. Doing what you love is never time wasted. Studies show that spending time doing a hobby that you love is good for your blood pressure and reduces stress, as well as helping you keep a better outlook on life, during a time that needs a better outlook. WhatNexter "ABRUB" is shown below taking her new Kayak out for a spin. She was our featured WhatNexter of the Week in Jan. 2013, take a look at her article covering her cancer journey with two types of cancer. 

Live Your Life Not Your Cancer Abrub

5) Join a cancer survivor retreat. There are a few organizations that will accept applications from cancer survivors to be a part of a retreat. Sometimes there is a cost, other times all expenses are paid. WhatNexter TicklingCancer took part in an excursion with Reel To Recovery Reel Recovery offers free retreats for cancer survivors. The retreat is led by professional psychosocial facilitators and expert fly-fishing instructors. A maximum of twelve men are invited to each retreat to create an environment of close-knit comfort and make it easy for the participants to open up to one another. TC is shown below with one of his MASSIVE catches.  For a complete description of this program read TC's blog post he wrote about it for WhatNext "After Beating Cancer, You Need Reel Recovery"

Live Your Life Not Your Cancer Ticklingcancer

Spend a Little, or Maybe Spend a Lot, it's Worth it for a Once in a Lifetime Event

5) WhatNexter "Living1963" is a Stage IV prostate cancer survivor. In another "WhatNexter of the Week" piece, Todd described his journey in detail, partly saying "My face is on the Provenge website and covers their promotional material. 

Todd's Phone Pics 346

We have traveled to all 4 corners of the country and to Hawaii and the Caribbean. My life is amazing and wonderful. I am a grandfather now 6 times over. I will dance at my granddaughter's weddings. I live with the love of my life. Cancer has not slowed me down. Summers are spent on the water, boating, and skiing and towing my granddaughters on the tube. Winters are spent in the mountains, skiing, and riding snowmobiles. We camp, bike, hike, and kayak. In the fall I hunt and fish. Mostly we laugh. Sometimes we laugh until we cry. Life is wonderful but only when it is lived.

Live Your Life Not Your Cancer Living1963

Cancer may shorten my life but when it is over I want to come sliding through heavens gates skidding to a stop and proclaim at the top of my lungs, "Wow...that was a helluva ride!" Read Todd's complete story here, "Overcoming Fears and Living a Life Dedicated to Beating Cancer"

6) GregP_WN, WhatNext Community Mgr. I try to live this mantra, you can too. Take a ride, car trip, bicycle ride, horse ride of a lifetime that you have always wanted to do. I have ridden motorcycles since I was 12 years old. After my third diagnosis in 2008, I wanted to take a long distance ride, something that I had never done before. My chance came when my brother-in-law invited me to ride along with him and some friends out to Colorado. We were gone for 8 days and covered 3800 miles. It was my best bike ride ever, to this date. We left Tennessee at 7 AM after I had been up all night long at a Relay For Life event. After meeting up with our fellow bikers, we headed West. That first day was a rough one, but I slept well that night. The rest of the trip was an awesome time. We rode through 10 States and covered 3800 miles. 

We saw some great sights, rode from the hot 95-degree weather in Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, to riding over snow-covered mountains in Colorado. We stopped along the way and took pictures at each State Welcome sign for posterity, this one was obviously, in Kansas. 

Bike Ride

7) After beating a Stage III-B rectal cancer, Michael Holtz decided that life was too precious to sit around and feel sorry for himself. He started training to run a marathon, something he had never done before. Not only did he make that race, and compete in it, but he finished it. Since that first race, he has run in several more. 

W Ner Of The Week Michael Holtz

When he isn't training for a marathon, Michael spends time working hard for cancer patients rights and benefits by volunteering with the American Cancer Society's ACS-CAN organization. They organize group events to travel to Capitol Hill and advocate for issues that affect all cancer patients. Recently he has spent hours working to keep health care available to those with pre-existing conditions. 

Michael shared his cancer journey with us in another "WhatNexter of the Week" article. Take a look at it here-"Finding Your Tribe and Thriving in the Face of Cancer"

8) And finally, there's James Bond, no....seriously...stay with me. WhatNexter Jim Bond. Patient #007, has been diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, then after beating that had a run with Leukemia. Despite these aggressive cancers, Jim and his Wife Kathleen spend a lot of time volunteering for the American Cancer Society and organizing their benefit bike ride, the Pan-Ohio Hope Ride. After spending time in the Hope Lodges in Ohio, Kathleen decided to start a bike ride for charity. It would be a 328-mile course between the Hope Lodges in Cleveland and Columbus, all proceeds going for all ACS Hope Lodges throughout the nation.

James Bond At Pan Ohio Ride                                                              Jim (center) after completing the Pan-Ohio Ride in 2008

James Bond Pan Ohio Hope Ride                                                          Jim caught in a shot riding with the pack

The first ride was in 2007 and has taken place every year since then. Jim and Kathleen prefer to Live Their Life, by giving back, instead of Living Their Cancer. 

Read more about Jim's Pan-Ohio Rides in these two articles:

James Bond, Multiple Myeloma, and a Few Bikes

Are You a Guardian Angel?

Whether you spend your time making plans for and participating in wonderful trips, going to family reunions, class reunions, taking a trip or just having a picnic in the backyard, or if you work tirelessly giving back,  everyone can do something to Live Your Life...Not Your Cancer.

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Do you have an inspiring story of how you Live Your Life...Not Your Cancer? We would love to help you share it with the World. Just register at www.WhatNext.com and then email us for more information. We look forward to hearing from you!

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