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Seven Thoughts on Accepting Change After Cancer

It's easy to hate change, especially when it barges in frightening and unwanted. Usually, the first instinct is to fight it every step of the way. But if it's serenity you seek, you're only going to get there by accepting the changes you cannot change.

When I'm struggling with change (which happens much more than I like to admit) the following help me see things through different eyes:

1.  "Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." - Frank Herbert - Change wakes us up and makes us re-evaluate our priorities and choices.

2.  "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi - Change isn't only something that happens to us, we can and must be proactive if we want to make change for the better in the world.

3.  "If you don't like something change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou - If you are enduring difficulties, you always have a choice as to how you approach your situation.

4.  "Change your life today. Don't gamble on the future, act now, without delay." - Simone de Beauvoir - So many of us put off making changes out of fear of the unknown. The bottom line is all we have is today. If you want to make a change, do it now.

Read more here.

The very moment cancer comes into your life, it is changed forever. The struggle is how to accept change you have no control over and still somehow move ahead.

Survival > Existence,

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Donna's picture

Hello, thank you for this opportunity to write down my pain. My partner just finished (yesterday) cancer treatments for kidney cancer. He struggles with many things, like the type of cAncer, possible side affects etc. I and his care team (his two daughters) thought that he would be so happy when the treatments ended. The reverse has happened...he asked the oncologist is her would be able to go in the sun...he loves being in th sun as we live in the cold north. The oncologist suggested that he could but to cover the area that was radiated (mid-torso). I felt this was sensible but my partner bcame extremely angry and when we got home he went to bed, pulled the covers over his head and stayed there for 24 hours. When he speaks to me it is very clipped and the anger is palpable! It is also very toxic to me...he reverts to anger quickly,but nirmally keeps it in check. I am so distraught...I have planned a trip away with my family for the next week...more just to get away from the tioxicty here. The sadness I feel is profound because we have always had a very loving, exciting beautiful relationship. Not sure of what to do or how to go forward...

Debbie's picture


Unfortunately, I know many, many cancer survivors (myself included) who struggled at the end of treatment. During treatment you're so involved with the process that you don't have a lot of time to deal with the emotional part of cancer. Then, all of a sudden, treatment is over and everything you've been through comes crashing down. I remember being so upset (and mad) when I couldn't lift my legs up in a Pilates class. I was ticked that it was just one more thing that cancer had taken from me.  I know it's really difficult now, but it gets better with time. Also, what really helped me was talking with other survivors. It takes time and support to process emotions and work through the new normal of cancer. It's very hard on family too, I know. Make sure you take care of you, too. Join a caregiver support group or speak to a counselor at the cancer center. Good luck to both of you.

Survival > Existence,


Sanfra McCathorine Jones's picture

February,2016 I was March 28, first Chemotherapy May 10 - July 12. Then 8 weeks of radiation. I have not seen the doctor since. They gave me a 6 month return appointment. That won't be until May 2017. I don't know what to expect.Is my cancergone ? Is it netastizing in my body? Wh n can I call myself a "Breast Cancer Survivor"?

Debbie's picture


The definition of cancer survivor is any person diagnosed with cancer, from the time of initial diagnosis until her death. So, feel free to call yourself a "Breast Cancer Survivor" right now, you've certainly earned the right. As to your other questions, I know how hard it is to wait for information - getting more and more anxious as time goes by. One thing I learned was that I had the right to reach out when I needed support and answers. Call your doctor's office and talk with a nurse or patient navigator. Go to your cancer center and join a support group or see a social worker. You don't have to wait in silence and worry all by yourself. Reach out and you'll be glad you did.  

I wish you all the best.

Survival > Existence, 




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Help the CARE Survey to Understand the Nutritional Needs of Cancer Survivors

I recently received an email from Dr.Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University asking for my help getting the word out about her research.

Dr. Zhang is a cancer epidemiologist studying the role of nutrition in cancer prevention and control. A recently published study co-written by Dr. Zhang showed that cancer survivors in the United States have poor dietary intake compared to individuals who do not have cancer. Following this study, Dr. Zhang's research team is conducting a survey to understand survivors’ nutritional needs and the challenges they face in making healthy food choices. 

The following is from Dr. Zhang.  Check it out and follow the link to the survey. I took it in less than 10 minutes and it really is painless.

Cancer Survivors are highly motivated to seek information about food choices and dietary changes to improve their health. However, a recent study comparing cancer survivors’ dietary patterns to federal guidelines indicates that they often fall short. People who have survived cancer eat fewer green vegetables and whole grains than do people without a history of cancer. Survivors also weren’t getting enough fiber, vitamin D, vitamin E, potassium or calcium, and were taking in too much sugar, fat and sodium, as defined by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans issued by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services. 

Report by LA Times: After Cancer, Survivors Do Not Choose Healthy Foods: What’s Going On? 

What influences cancer survivors’ eating patterns?  The research team at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University is conducting a survey to understand cancer survivors’ nutritional needs and the challenges they face in making healthy food choices.

They Need Your Help! Visit to take a short survey (10 minutes) and contribute to this important research! Your support will help advance research to meet the nutritional needs of the growing population of cancer survivors.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Tufts research team at, or through Twitter @CARE_study and Facebook (Cancer Survivors Heathy Eating – CARE Study).  Principal Investigator: Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, Tufts University

It's Debbie again: Every little bit we do to move research along makes a big difference. Thanks for taking the time to be part of the solution.

Survival > Existence,

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The Never-Ending Cancer Guilt Trip

As my gynecologist’s nurse struggled to explain why my mammogram was suspicious without once using the word 'cancer,' it slowly dawned on me that she was carefully measuring her every word to fend off panic.

People expect fear to ignite when cancer enters the picture. Of course I was afraid, but it wasn't fear that motivated me to do what I did next. I hung up the phone resolved to handle this alone.

Rather than immediately calling my husband, my plan was to return to the breast center for additional testing in secret. I absolutely needed his support, but I couldn't bear the thought of causing my spouse of 21 years the worry that phone call caused me. Like it or not, I was going to stay mum until I knew more.

Best case scenario, I would go to the breast center, get good news and tell him after the fact. Worst case scenario — well, I didn't actually have a plan for that.

A few days later while my husband was at work and our children were at school, I snuck back to the breast center. I was lying by omission and didn’t feel good about it, but being both the bearer of bad news and its cause riddled me with tremendous guilt.

It didn’t go well . . . Read more here.

Survival > Existence, 

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What I Learned in Therapy

"Think of your head as an unsafe neighborhood; don't go there alone." – Augusten Burroughs 

The room was barely big enough for two chairs, a desk and a box of tissues.

Every Tuesday at 10 a.m., I found myself there. Usually, I showed up with a specific issue I needed to talk about. Sometimes, I was just there to be there. Every time, except one, I left feeling better than when I walked in the door.

I’ve been very open about spending an entire year in therapy after my mastectomy. Without a doubt, it was the single best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I don’t know how I could have navigated cancer without it and cannot overstate this . . .

Click here to continue reading and learn how therapy saved me.

Have you been in therapy or are you considering it? Let's talk about it.

Survival > Existence,

Image courtesy Martin Heigan 

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Are You Rushing Your Body to Heal?

We were a small support group of women sitting around a table when she came into the room.

She didn’t even make it to a chair before she shared her distress with her doctor, who had "finally" cleared her for physical activity after her mastectomy.

As an exercise instructor, she had been crazed by weeks of inactivity and weight gain. As soon as she was able to exercise, she threw herself back into it with a vengeance. Now she was in a lot of pain, angry with her doctor and afraid she would never be able to return to exercising.

We’d never met before, but it seemed obvious she had the drive to return to her passion.

What she wasn’t able to do was give her body the time it needed to heal.

It turned out that we had the same problem. When I couldn’t stand upright after my mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, it was easy to sit still. But, as time went on, I also tended to push my body harder than was prudent.

Read more here.

Do you find it hard to give your body the time it needs to recover after cancer treatments? Let’s talk about it.   

Survival > Existence,

Image courtesy ^CiViLoN^

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Monday Morning Motivation

Happy Memorial Day to all who observe this day set aside to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

Copyright 123RF Photos

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New Study for People with Stage 4 Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

There is a new clinical study looking for patients with Stage IV non-small cell lung cancer who have already been treated with chemotherapy. The purpose of this study is to compare the new investigational medicine versus the standard-of-care treatment with respect to life expectancy outcomes.

More about the study:

The study drug (LY2835219) is administered by Tablets, Pills, or Capsules.

At least 193 people have already taken this drug in clinical trials.
There will be 550 participants in this trial, at 20 sites around the world.
If you are interested, please find the full study details and eligibility criteria listed here.

Eligibility Criteria:

Participants must:

  • be at least 18 years old
  • have a diagnosis of stage IV non-small cell lung cancer (Stage IV means the cancer has spread to distant tissues or organs)
  • have tumors with KRAS mutations, if known
  • have already had chemotherapy for this tumor

Participants must not:

  • be pregnant or lactating
  • have HIV, Hepatitis B or C, or a history of cardiac arrest

Please complete the online questionnaire to check if you’re eligible for the trial.

If you’re not familiar with clinical trials, here are some FAQs:

What are clinical trials?
Clinical trials are research studies to determine whether investigational drugs or treatments are safe and effective for humans. All new investigational medications and devices must undergo several clinical trials, often involving thousands of people.

Why participate in a clinical trial?
You will have access to new investigational treatments that would be available to the general public only upon approval. You will also receive study-related medical care and attention from clinical trial staff at research facilities. Clinical trials offer hope for many people and an opportunity to help researchers find better treatments for others in the future.

Learn why I’m talking about Clinical Trials

Survival > Existence,

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