• What has cancer taught you or shown you that you never thought would be a part of it?

    Asked by GregP_WN on Friday, February 28, 2014

    What has cancer taught you or shown you that you never thought would be a part of it?

    40 Answers from the Community

    40 answers
    • MelMom's Avatar

      I never thought I would have to call my Brother and nearly beg him to come help me!

      about 7 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      I never thought I'd be part of an online community like this nor that it would become so important to me.

      about 7 years ago
    • MelMom's Avatar

      Shelby, I will say too that I never thought I would get more help from strangers than my family.

      about 7 years ago
    • UpandUp's Avatar

      I learned that what you do as a teenager can sneak up and try to kill you later in life.

      about 7 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      how kind, helpful and understanding most people can be. I also that I would learn so much about how to navigate the medical system (insurance, hospital, etc), I also agree with MelMom and BuckeyeShelby about this community,

      about 7 years ago
    • Cole's Avatar

      Cancer has taught me to have more grace and to be more understanding of people. I have found that forgiving someone for their lack of understanding is so much easier than being angry. It's really given me a different perspective on the people in my life. Which some might be angry about people jumping ship after being diagnosed, I have actually found it liberating...filtering out the bad and really being able to see how amazing some of the people in my life truly are, especially the unexpected ones.

      about 7 years ago
    • Joeyb's Avatar

      Cancer has taught me to be more understanding, patience, not to sweat the small stuff. How many people actually care and love me. Has increased my FAITH!!!

      about 7 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      I found out that cancer is not as terrible as I imagined I sort of regret the sixty years of fear preceeding my cancer diagnosis.

      about 7 years ago
    • Sweetmarie1's Avatar

      It taught me that true friends and family rise to the top..I love my best friend the day I told her I was having surgery and it was probably cancer...haven't seen her since September ...on the other hand I have three friends that are all awesome and are here for me no matter what! Family has done the same...in a family of 15 I have seen two sisters and my mother...it is really sad but I have learned to appreciate those who send a good word..encourage me on this site and on FB.. I look at the beauty of life...not those that are not there but LOVE. With all my heart those that have rushed in while others have rushed out!

      about 7 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      Sweetmarie - hugs, so true about finding out who your true friends are. My family is awesome and so are my true friends, I no longer spend any emotional time fretting about those who didn't stick around. I've made new true friends here, other online sites, and in the world at large.

      about 7 years ago
    • amontoya's Avatar

      Cancer has taught me to be more compassionate and forgiving. It's taught me life is fragile and tomorrow is not a guarantee. It's brought me closer to my mother in law. It's distanced me from my own mother. It's taught me who I can count on and who I cannot count on. It's made me a better communicator. I've had many lessons throughout this journey and I am not the one with cancer.

      about 7 years ago
    • Sweetmarie1's Avatar

      SueRae~you are so right???I just needed to put it out there. At first I was bitter about it...but now it's a huge relief!

      about 7 years ago
    • myronbob's Avatar

      not that wanted to or recommend it , but my medical knowledge in not just cancer but many areas has risen considerably ,been fascinated with many aspects of the body and treatment . getting ready to puy out my shingle outside .

      about 7 years ago
    • Leo4life's Avatar

      Your body is a temple. Worship it and treat it well.

      about 7 years ago
    • glam's Avatar

      I would never think I was going to be so dependent on other people helps as I started being when I was diagnosed with cancer.....I had worked throughout life every since I was 16 to be independent in the future......imagine so.....no one in my family is more dependent than I was last year......recovering independency this year but acknowledging the importance of everybody that surrounds me in my life.....so thankful that life gave me the opportunity to recognize and let them know hoe important they are to me and how much I love them....God continue blessing all of us

      about 7 years ago
    • cam32505's Avatar

      I think I treat people better, with more understanding than I did before cancer.

      about 7 years ago
    • LindaKR's Avatar

      Cancer has made me realize how much I took time, years, for granted. I used to put away Christmas decorations and wistfully wondered if I would be here, in this same home. This first Christmas since the cancer diagnosis, I wistfully looked at the decorations as I put them away and wondered if I would see them next year at Xmas. I used to assume the future would just come, worrying how I was going to fill the years once all my kids are gone. I think if I had a miraculous cure, I could never unring this bell and take time for granted.

      about 7 years ago
    • shescountry32's Avatar

      It INCREASED my faith in the LORD .....I never knew how it would make my so called friends only show they care when I was in hospital in beginning. Then , when I got home they think I am ok and dont need the support. Which we all know is when we need the support the most.....

      about 7 years ago
    • Rthompson's Avatar

      What have I learned that I did not expect to? That is an excellent question and one I had to ponder over, I admit. I actually learned a few things which I did not expect. When one gets diagnosed with a disease, even if it is not cancer, one expects to receive help, encouragement and love from friends and family.
      What I learned is that this is not always the case. Sometimes it s those you thought you could count on who let you down and others who you never expected to go the distance who are the first ones there and the last to leave. Not at all expected.

      While I expected to learn a little about my personal disease and the causes, signs and symptoms and treatments, I had not expected this knowledge to expand to the depths to which it has. So much so that I have sought an opportunity to start up my own local chapter and spread the word to local girls and women about the dangers of cervical cancer and the means to which they can go to prevent ever having it. I admit...I never expected that.

      Nor did I expect that I would learn so much more about other health issues. I have been through so much with other ailments brought on by my cancer that I have almost learned the entire workings of the human body. Nurses have joked with me that they can get a quicker diagnosis coming to me that to the dr. I know about the functioning of kidney and its impact on other functions such as BP. I know why BUN and Creatnine are important. :) I know what MRSA stands for and the limited ways to treat it and steps to take to prevent it. My house is now probably more sterile that the bubble in the Boy in the plastic bubble. lol

      I expected to learn a lot about myself, but how much I had not anticipated. I learned that I had more courage and strength than I had ever given myself credit for. This is something I think we all share in common. I look at some of the mundane issues people face in day to day lives and chuckle at how important they think them to be. All the time knowing that I know people who would do anything to have that be the focus of their thoughts and worries.

      Most importantly I did not expect to truly rely on the kindness of strangers. I had always been a person who took time to make new acquaintances and had limited number of friends. I had quality over quantity. This changed drastically as I went further and further along with this disease. I found that after a time, I was sharing the most intimate parts of my battle with people I had never met and most likely would never actually meet. They knew things about me that I could not dare tell my closest friends. Because I knew they would understand like no one else could.

      about 7 years ago
    • dhall's Avatar


      about 7 years ago
    • Juddmaster's Avatar

      I learned many things from Cancer. For one, how many different types of Cancer exist and the many different approaches to treatments for it. I learned the nurses and medical oncology teams are comprised of incredibly dedicated people. But most of all, I have taken a spiritual journey involving my own mortality that I am ever so grateful to the Cancer for. A year ago, I was one of the patients upon diagnosis of the problem they told the six months to........they don't know. That I walked through the valley of death, I will fear no evil. I so truly understand that what it means now. My faith was tested in my darkest hours.. I do and will love life and no longer fear death.

      about 7 years ago
    • cris' Avatar

      Cancer has made me realize to live each day to the fullest, I don't worry like I use to. I any more understanding & have more patience. I don't take things for granted anymore!!! Just loving life....

      about 7 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar

      @Juddmaster I totally agree with you about that spiritual renewal. I too was given only 4 months to live in 2010. The irony of it was that when I was diagnosed, I was weeks away from taking my own life (I had planned it to look like an accident) After the diagnosis I figured that I would go with cancer. But my brother happened to be visiting when I went to the Dr to plan pallitive and hospice care, he suggested a second opinion (my nephew is a primary care doctor). One of my nephews patients was an oncological surgeon who was doing new robotic surgery on my type of cancer. Somehow cancer made me want to live. It sort of ripped me out of depression and brought me back to God.

      about 7 years ago
    • Carool's Avatar

      My experience with one very close friend was the opposite of what some others here had with their friends: My friend was great during my treatments but wasn't there once I felt better and wanted her to celebrate important, non-illness-related events in my life. I guess she got comfort through the role of "the healthy one" as compared with me, "the designated cancer patient." Finally, I told her, "It's been real, but so long, farewell. Find another cancer-patient friend to dote on." She did!

      about 7 years ago
    • created's Avatar

      I learned how truly precious I am. I learned I have strength like I would never have believed possible. I learned God is not some far away being that created everything. He has tender eyes, gentle hands, big shoulders and a great love for me. When I felt like I was walking in knee-deep mud on that long hall to radiation, He would get down on one knee, gently hold me on His chest and carry me until I was strong enough to walk and smile again. It brought me the realization that He holds my next breath in the palm of His hand and it is His choice when He opens that hand and let's me go free. With that knowledge, has come perfect peace and no worry. Because of Cancer, I know that whatever comes my way, we can handle it. Kinda sounds like I got more out of that hateful cancer than it was able to take.

      about 7 years ago
    • Debbie's Avatar

      I found out how lucky (and fortunate) I am... My husband, sisters and Dad were by me during everything. My "best" friends disappeared but new ones showed up every week for 5 months. My employer went above and beyond in their support. I'm so very grateful and truly blessed.

      about 7 years ago
    • Catitude1's Avatar

      Cancer has made me a much more positive and grateful person. Also, like many others have said, I, too have been surprised by the people who have been there for me and the ones who have disappeared. I have received so much support from people I never would have expected it from, which has really renewed my faith in the kindness and generosity of human beings.

      about 7 years ago
    • ibcarolek's Avatar

      That there are things that can't be fixed. Despite it being the 21st century.
      That doctors don't know everything; xrays and catscans can't see everything.
      That 'morphine' can be used in a sentence like 'aspirin'.
      That I'd know the meaning of 'pallative' (or even that the word existed) despite scoring high on SATs and GMATs.
      That there could be so much fear and deep sadness. and for so long.

      about 7 years ago
    • peachpoppy's Avatar

      I never expected to feel - as I had heard others say - that getting cancer can be a gift.

      I used to think people said that to try to convince themselves that things weren't so bad. Now I say it, and I see the looks I get. And I understand their doubt. But my job isn't to convince them of anything, it's to enjoy the gift.

      about 7 years ago
    • Joyex's Avatar

      Neither my mother, my father or one of my brothers has contacted me at all - although they know my husband has recurrent cancer. Obviously we don't have good relationships, but still I thought they might send a mail saying "sorry to hear......." nevertheless. Also a good friend who has contacted me ONCE since this, said she felt upset as I was leaving her out of my life. Of course there have been others - some not very close friends - who have been so good and kind and supportive too.

      about 7 years ago
    • chloeblake's Avatar

      What a thought-provoking question! As the primary caregiver for a family member with cancer, I have learned to research, research, research! Through a process of ongoing self-education, I have become better equipped to advocate on behalf of my father and his best interest. In addition, I have learned that your doctor's bedside manner is extremely important. Do not settle until you find one with whom you connect, and do not hesitate to seek out a different one even at a different facility if your needs are not being met. You have the power to positively influence the course of treatment.

      about 7 years ago
    • Jenvivace's Avatar

      I have had to learn to accept that I can't do everything and be in control of everything. I had to learn to accept help even when it wasn't how I would do things, particularly in the care of my children. I am blessed to have my mother and mother-in-law nearby to help my husband while I had my treatments, but it was hard for me to miss all the things i wanted so badly to be part of. I lived in Houston and went to MD Anderson for my care and missed many months of my family's life while I was getting better as my husband had to keep working in Oregon as he has the health insurance (I am self-employed).

      I already knew on an intellectual level how fragile life could be when my father had a sudden heart attack a few years ago, and my brother had a disabling accident in his mid-20's, but it really truly didn't sink in until I had to face my own mortality. I don't feel like I can ever take for granted life, the love of family and friends, all the mundane everyday things.... Whether I live to be an old grandmother or cancer comes back in a few years I want to live life with no regrets. I am a musician who had put aside my pursuit of music to be a mother, but now I am determined to do both whole heartedly.

      about 7 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      Very interesting and eye opening responses, thanks to everyone for posting. I look forward to seeing more. I can relate to all of these.

      about 7 years ago
    • gdytko's Avatar

      It has taught and amazed me at how resilient the human body is. Before my Esophagectomy I didn't think I would be able to get out and do most of the things I used to. I can't do the same type of work I used to do, but I enjoy every day I do have and I make sure I go out and meet and visit with people each day. Cancer has totally changed my way of thinking and strengthened my faith.

      about 7 years ago
    • MMarie's Avatar

      ...well after yesterday's medical appointments, I have been affirmed it has taught me NOT to let the medical folks put words in my mouth or to "just accept" and/or tolerate what they say. It has also taught me to separate the wheat from the chaff with my relationships.

      about 7 years ago
    • Lillian's Avatar

      I have learned to let it go and continue enjoying my life with my family and my closest friends. And I also explore arts, mediation, and spirit. Anger and depression didn't help me at all and it affected my family. I have hope!

      almost 7 years ago
    • contrail's Avatar

      I've dealt with two totally different cancers since 2008. I was diagnosed with HR positive breast cancer in 2008, and then this last spring I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Small Intestinal Carcinoid Cancer, which is totally unrelated to the breast cancer. I was really thrown a loop with this second cancer and at first I was definitely in a depression with a lot of anxiety. I thought for sure
      my life was at an end, but then I took ahold of myself and remembered who I was, and now, I'm living each day as it comes and I know I can do whatever I need to do to live a happy, productive life.

      I've educated myself through the internet and other people about this latest cancer that I am battling, I've found specialists that are working with me, and above all else, I have found strength in my family and friends, especially the new ones that I have met during this journey. Above all else, I have come to know that I AM a Child of God, and He is there for me whenever I seek Him out. This gives me much peace and hope.

      I've learned there are things that I can change in this battle (as with anything in life) and there are those things that I cannot change. So, I concentrate on the things I can change. I love life, and I love my family. I love to laugh and be around those people who keep me happy. I have 5 beautiful grandchildren that I want to spend as much time with as possible. Thank goodness they live close by. I have wonderful neighbors, friends and family that are there for me if and when I need them. I Am Blessed!

      One of my favorite sayings is: "The decision to look forward, stay positive, and remain hopeful is a key that unlocks the door to possibilities, and, when shared, returns to renew the spirit". So, I will move forward, and I will stay positive and hopeful, and I will endeavor to forget myself and help those around me who need my help, because in helping others, I am helping myself.

      Life is as good as we make it.

      almost 7 years ago
    • Garzatg's Avatar

      Cancer is a funny word. It makes you face death but acknowledge life. It makes you realize how much you want to live.

      But the truth is we are all dying, every day we get one day closer to our death. None of us know for sure if we will have a tomorrow. This is not morbid or depressing, it's actually quite inspiring and beautiful, if only we could live like this was our last day, every day.

      If you knew that today was your last day would you have that petty fight with your loved one because you need to be right? Would you worry whether you had a significant other in your life? Would you lay in bed being lazy? Would you hold a grudge? Would you worry about what you looked like or what you were wearing? Would you snap at the lady behind the counter at Walgreens, just because she is slow and you are having a bad day? Would you have a bad day, if it was your last one? Would you want the last memory that people had of you to be a negative one?
      I think I would write to everyone I loved telling them what they meant to me and how much I appreciated them, then I would deliver it to them and tell them in person. Then I would contact anyone that had hurt me and I would tell them I forgive them. Then I would go volunteer and help someone. Finally, I would walk around in awe, looking for one last time at all the beauty and blessings God has sent us. I would really look and see all that is beautiful and I would let the ugliness fall away. I would make a lasting impression in my mind, to last me an eternity.
      Then I would fall asleep ,rejoicing in all my blessings and thanking God for such a glorious last day.
      Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all live like we were dying?

      almost 7 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar

      Many years ago, my dad died at age 49 of lung cancer. He lived only 6 months after his diagnosis. During that six months, he underwent radiation and chemo and spent much of his time very, very sick. I made the comment that I would never have chemo if I was diagnosed with cancer. It just didn't seem worth it; the quality of life was just not there for my dad.

      When I received my own Stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis, I was informed that my options were quite limited. The only treatment available was chemotherapy. Despite my earlier resolve, there was never a question but that I would go through the chemotherapy treatment. I learned that sometimes what we THINK we will do is not what we WILL do.

      Like so many others have said, I learned who really is a friend and who isn't. It has been a little depressing but realistically it is a good thing to know. So many have come through who I never would have guessed would be there for me. So grateful.

      Learning that I have stage 4 lung cancer has made me live every single day to the fullest. At the same time, it has made hesitant to make long-term plans or purchases. But, like my husband and I have discussed, none of us is promised even our next breath.

      I have to say, that as weird as it may sound, I have been happier and more liberated since I learned I have cancer than ever before. Now, rarely a day goes by that I don't live it to the absolute fullest. I wasn't doing that prior to learning I was sick. Go figure!

      almost 7 years ago
    • marycamp's Avatar

      How strong I was and how many people loved & cared about me!

      almost 7 years ago

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