How to Live a Rich Life in 2015 (Even with Cancer)

by Brittany McNabb

When you are fighting cancer, life can be centered around surviving. But to live a rich life when you have cancer may mean thriving while surviving. With the new year comes new resolutions and possibly the idea of a "new you." All new goals are admirable, but one of the simplest wishes this year is to live a rich life despite cancer. 

Live Your Life, Not Your Cancer 2015

[WhatNexter Mikilog (left) atop Cadilac Mountain during their one year trip after chemotherapy.]

Here are seven ways that WhatNexters have learned how to truly live their life, not their cancer.

1. Take Control of Every Day

Even if it feels like cancer is taking over your body, you will always have the power of to choose. Even if the choice is small, for example, worrying less or getting out of bed with a positive attitude, if you take control of your day then you might feel better as your journey goes on.

"I push myself to do things, even when I'm tired and don't feel good. I never know when I'll have a good day, so I don't wait." - cam32505

2. Recognize the Difference Between Being Alive and Living

A common theme for WhatNexters is "Living your life, not your cancer." One WhatNexter, LiveWith Cancer, explains her opinion of the difference between being alive and really living.

"There is a big difference between being alive and living. Living is doing the things that you enjoy. For me, living means spending time with my family and my two dogs, getting together with friends, running. My calendar is so full of activities that sometimes I think I should schedule a day off. I guess not knowing when the cancer will kill me has given me huge incentive to fill the hours with enjoyable activities." - LiveWithCancer

Live With Cancer New Year

[WhatNexter LiveWithCancer and her dog Cotton.]

3. Dedicate Yourself to Something You Care About

Dedicating yourself to a certain hobby or endeavor can give you joy. For WhatNexter myyear2013, that hobby is music. It can be different for everyone, but the discipline and joy that comes from dedicating yourself to something you really care about can be abundant.

"I've branched into music. Always wanted to sing but too afraid to step out of the chorus. I now am a lead singer in a classic rock band, I'm working on a small music project with a dear friend, I've written three songs (so far) and have fallen in love. How's that for living? None of this would have happened if I didn't go through my cancer diagnosis and treatment. Live on and rock on!" - myyear2013

4. Explore New Opportunities

It is scientifically proven that trying new things can contribute to happiness. Many psychologists have studied and found that people who consistently try new things in their everyday life experience more positive emotions and fewer negative ones.

"I have found joy through learning! The day we stop learning...we may as well hang it up! I'm learning to paint, learning about my disease, learning about others experiences, learning about history. All of this holds a new fascination for me." - Beeps

5. Give Back to Others that Just Started the Fight

Giving back to others begets gratitude. You can give back to others who have cancer by simply saying "I know what you're going through," reaching out to others in your community, answer questions on WhatNext, and even get matched with a cancer patient that has the same type of cancer as you to be a mentor to them. Something as simple as writing them a card could make a big difference.

6. Include Loved Ones in Your Life

A lot of time spent in 2014 was centered around the interaction between patients and loved ones. Although it can be hard to accept help or include loved ones on what you are going through, when you do, it may add to your quality of life. No one wants to go through cancer alone and your loved ones don't want you to. Allow them to do nice things for you, let them hug you when you are sad, and spend quality time together when you can.

New Year Sunneegal

[WhatNexter Sunneegal with her granddaughter.]

7. Remember to Enjoy the Ride

Sometimes getting caught up in everything cancer can chip away at your quality of living. WhatNexter GregP said it best when he said, no matter the wear and tear, we have to remember to enjoy life.

"Living with cancer reminds me of a quote that I have sort of taken to heart lately: "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave in a well preserved body, but to skid in sideways totally worn out shouting, 'Wow, what a ride!'" - GregP_WN

What is important to you as you enter this new year? How do you plan on trying to live your life, not your cancer? Feel free to post below and share pictures of your New Year's celebration on the Pinboard.

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