Can you imagine an upside to cancer? I don’t just mean a silver lining. When I was first diagnosed someone close to me said, “one day you will look back and think this was the best thing that ever happened to you.” I kid you not.
Although I’m still waiting for that day, I can say that many good things have transpired that might not have as a result. For one thing, my podcast. My podcast brings information, hope, and inspiration to cancer survivors. There would have been no reason for me to even think about doing a podcast like that if it weren’t for my own experience. I might have done a podcast about something else, but not this one.
As a result of feeling weak, I wanted to become strong. So I started working with a trainer and hiked 14,000+ foot mountains to feel what it means to be strong (for me). I started riding my bike and training for a significant biking event. I think I can say that taking care of myself, changing to a healthier way of eating, minding my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health has been the upside of cancer for me. Before cancer (BC) I did those things sporadically or “when I had time”, but it wasn’t a regular part of my life.
Where your attention goes, your energy flows.
Theresa had been expecting to have breast cancer since she was nine years old. Her grandmother, mother, and aunt all had it, so she was expecting to have it too. For Theresa, it turns out, having information is the thing that brings her clarity and calm. She didn’t know that before cancer. It was through her experience with cancer that she learned that about herself and was able to handle another difficult health situation with strength as a result.
When Theresa was first diagnosed her surgeon asked her to get a second opinion. That is usually unheard of!
Getting a second opinion isn’t about the doctor, it’s about YOU!
As patients, we tend to tread lightly around our oncologists, surgeons, and plastic surgeons trying not to upset or offend them. Sometimes survivors tell me they were unhappy with their care but afraid to go elsewhere or didn’t even know they could. Some tell me they didn’t know anything was wrong until they had a second opinion because of insurance change or some other reason.
Getting a second opinion isn’t about making your doctors feel angry or that you don’t trust their opinion. It’s about getting different viewpoints, getting as much information as possible, and getting all the information you need. Sometimes it can happen if you’re not sure about what your doctor is telling you. Doctors who are certain they are doing a good job won’t feel threatened by your need for more information. You shouldn’t worry about offending or upsetting the doctor. It’s your body and your life!
Knowledge is clarity and power.
You are the CEO of you, of your body, and your life. In situations involving medical care, it is up to you to get all the information you can (and you will never have it all) to make the best decisions you can. Your medical team is on your payroll to be of service to you. To present information and help you make decisions. But ultimately you are your responsibility.
Doctors are humans, just like you and I, and sometimes ego stands in their way. But it’s not about them or their ego. A humble person would know that. And how much better would you feel knowing that your doctor is willing to collaborate with other professionals so you could have the best outcome?
The Upside to Cancer
“There’s no upside to cancer, but rather what you get from the experience.”~ Theresa Drescher
A cancer diagnosis is maybe the scariest thing one will ever go through. I call it an existential crisis. It makes you come face to face with mortality and raises questions about the life you are living, and what’s important to you.
For those of us who’ve been through it, it can be a harrowing experience and we know it. It shreds you of almost every last piece of dignity. But it can also be a teacher.
The experience can be empowering and can teach you how to approach other hard things in life. It can teach you many things about yourself. How to make decisions. What triggers you. What brings you joy. What you will and will not tolerate. What makes you vulnerable and how to protect yourself.
“Cancer strips you down. And takes you bare (cancer does). And you can either stay bare and vulnerable or you can figure out the courage it takes to come out of it. That was my upside.”~ Theresa Drescher
There’s more to every situation than just pain and anger. But no one can do that healing work for you. That is your work. For yourself and your life.
Here are some of my favorite moments from this episode:
- 1:55 Theresa’s breast cancer experience.
- 5:18 Getting a second opinion.
- 14:15 The upside to breast cancer.
- 16:58 Learning courage through vulnerability.
- 22:03 I have don’t have time for this too.
- 23:14 You need a support “group” that speaks breast cancer language.
- 26:43 Finding your intention (word) and feeling content with yourself.
- 30:53 What makes Theresa feel successful.
- 35:16 What makes Theresa feel unsettled.
Links you might find helpful:
- The Upside to Everything, website
A new episode is released every second and fourth Thursday of each month.
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If you’re stressed about what to eat check out episode 34 with Cathy Leman, RD, or episode 35 where I talk about food rules vs. food values. Episode 19 and episode 30 were about balancing components of an anti-cancer lifestyle. Episodes 25, 31, and 32 were about helping you find ways to heal your soul through Reiki and healing touch, writing, and art therapy.