Keep On Swimming

by Jane Ashley

Cancer is one of those maladies that takes a long time in treatment and a long time afterward in surveillance. Cancer can be likened to a marathon — we must pace ourselves to reach the finish line — we must be patient, and we can’t give up. No matter how tired we are, we must dig a little deeper to find the strength and the will to persevere.

Keep On Swimming

Have you felt like you couldn’t continue? Have you just wanted to give up? You are not alone. Almost all of us get overwhelmed from time to time.

How do we motivate ourselves to stay in the “passing” lane when negative thoughts and feelings threaten to derail us? When we realize that others have faced these feelings, we regain our commitment to “stay the course.” For me, motivational quotes , poems and blog posts help me refocus. Perhaps some of these inspirations will help you.

Keep On Swimming

Some of you may have read a poem or two by Tyler Knott Gregson . He’s an author and photographer who lives in Helena, Montana. The poem below is a favorite of many people.

When you think you can’t,
you positively can,
and when you think it’s over,
it may be a new beginning.
There is always something left in you
even when you swear on your soul
you’ve been emptied out.

So promise me you will not spend
so much time treading water
and trying to keep
your head above the waves
that you forget, truly forget,
how much you have always
loved to swim.

His words speak to us … as if he understands our fears, the unrelenting fatigue and that we sometimes believe that we can’t face another day. It would be so easy to rest for a while, but when we have cancer, we know that cancer doesn’t take breaks, and neither can we. We’ve all been there, but in the end, we remember that if we dig deep within us, we’ll find the will to continue.

We believe that we’re too tired to have our next chemo. We got bad news on our scan. Our chemo got delayed because of low blood counts. I remember wanting to quit when my chemo kept being delayed because I became neutropenic. But I told myself, “I don’t want to be on death bed and keep thinking that I wish I had finished my last two rounds of chemo.” So I stayed the course and completed my mop-up chemo.

We have to keep on swimming.

The Tide Will Turn

When faced with metastatic cancer, the statistics are daunting and could persuade us to give up before beginning treatment. One of my favorite quotes is one from Harriet Beecher Stowe . She expressed what we may feel.

“Never give up for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

Never Give Up

Statistics are just that — the science of collecting and analyzing numerical data in large quantities. Five-year survival statistics are extracted from data that is five years old. That’s how they calculated how many people in treatment in 2014 are still alive in 2019. So the statistics don’t include the new treatments approved in the last five years.

Statistics mean that among 1,000 or 5,000 Stage IV lung cancer patients that a certain number of them will still be alive 5 years later. But statistics won’t tell which patients will survive. We aren’t statistics — we are individual patients and respond to treatment differently. If we have other health conditions, we may not be able to have surgery. If we are allergic to one of the treatments, our doctors will have find another treatment. There are so many variables in patients that we shouldn’t allow statistics to scare us into accepting defeat before we even begin treatment.

All Stage IV diagnoses are not the same. One patient with Stage IV colon cancer may have two small tumors in their liver while another patient may have many tumors in both lobes of their lungs — in this situation, the first patient has a much better prognosis than the second patient so the 5-year statistics are not relevant to either patient.

In the last five years since Keytruda (the first immunotherapy drug) was approved on September 4, 2014, the treatment of metastatic cancer has dramatically changed. Our current five-year statistics don’t reflect the results of all of these new drugs. As Harriet Beecher Stowe reminded us “the tide will turn ,” and for many cancer patients, immune checkpoint inhibitors and other immune-oncology drugs have turned the tide.

The Tide Will Turn

More Quotes to Inspire You – Never Give Up

Each new day brings new challenges when we are in cancer treatment and afterward as oncologists and radiologists sort through lab and scan results. Learning to cope with uncertainty is a useful skill to acquire. Here are some favorite quotes to help you today and for all of the tomorrows of your life. Do you have a favorite quote to share?

“Don’t give up before the miracle happens.” ~ Fannie Flagg

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” ~ Albert Einstein

“How long should you try? Until.” ~ Jim Rohn

“When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’” ~ Unknown

“Don’t be discouraged. It’s often the last key in the bunch that opens the lock.” ~ Unknown

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” ~ Confucius

“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.” ~ H. Jackson Brown

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Tough Times Never Last, Tough People Do" -Robert H. Schuler

Tough Times Never Last

We all get tired and become discouraged. Cancer is the disease that we fear the most. Don’t allow fear to overtake you — keep on swimming.

Please share on your social media sites to spread some positive vibes around, we can all use them!

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