Positive Changes Since Your Cancer Diagnosis

Since your cancer diagnosis, what changes have you made and which have you found most helpful?

Our Cancer Experience Registry participants said:

  • I’ve become proactive and take responsibility for my own health. I’ve lost weight, changed to a healthier diet, and exercise every week. I read the Bible, pray, and trust God more than ever. I don’t allow myself to dwell on if the cancer returns; I make myself think about something else more pleasant. I do more things for others like volunteering and I’ve made new friends in doing so. I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life. I finally learned to like myself. I also eliminated half of the stress in my life by just tending to my own business and not other’s. I started having a party once a month just to celebrate life and family. I’m sorry it took cancer to wake me up but I’m glad I responded to it in a positive way.
  • I have always exercised and I have always watched what I eat, but I am even more conscious of this now. Sleep is more important to me too. A lot of rest always makes a person feel more energized. Listen to your body and if you are tired, rest. If you are hungry, eat. Laugher is important in everyone’s lives and it makes you feel good.
  • I am so aware of my mortality, and it is not a depressing thought, but rather an empowering awareness, that has fueled my drive to accomplish and make a difference in my small part of the world
  • Since my stage iv breast cancer diagnosis five years ago, I have challenged my spirituality and I have made changes to the way I think, the food I eat, and exercise. I live more in the moment. I say what I am feeling right then and there. That includes “I love you.” I realize I might only have today and I make today the best today I can (even if I am sick from chemo, tired, or just not a good day). I am more spontaneous. I am mostly vegetarian now. I eat more fruits and vegetables. I drink lots of water everyday! I found exercise to be good for me and my mind. My spirituality has been tested to my outer limits. I have questioned things that I didn’t even think about before, but having asked those questions have given me a peace that is very calming. It soothes the soul, and that was totally unexpected. I have found that taking care of my mind, body, and spirit is important. All three for me are intertwined. Many times making a change in one area causes change in another. I need to continue to take care of me. I firmly believe I am still alive today because I continue to nurture, in many different ways, my mind, body and soul.
  • I give into the need for occasional naps when I am tired, so I don’t overstress myself physically, and I don’t feel guilty about it! I also say “I love you” more now than I ever did to my friends and family.
  • Since my cancer diagnosis, I have made myself more of a priority. I surround myself, as often as within my control, with positive, engaging, enlivening experiences- even when it’s a nap! J I appreciate more than before how people respond with regard to their own fears. I appreciate and acknowledge them, but do my best NOT to get down in the muck with them. As a friend once told me: “Offer people a hand from above, not a shove up from below.”
  • Finding no breast cancer support group in my area, and being diagnosed with a very poor prognosis, I thought how lucky I was to have a husband by my side. This made me wonder how women without a support system got through their cancer journey. I decided I wanted to make a difference to those women and founded Bosom Buddies. This June we celebrated 25 years of service, having served more than 7,000 women without ever charging one penny. This was the greatest gift in my life and the most helpful. It really gave me something to survive for. My Bosom Buddies have become my extended family. They are the most loving, courageous women in the world. Doing something for somebody else can be the most helpful thing you can do for yourself.

  • My job was terminated when I ran out of family leave while going through my cancer treatment and I was devastated. After 31 years, how could they do this? Especially since I was still in treatment! That turned out to be a blessing in disguise! I can now enjoy life more since I realize everyday is a gift. I see people differently and try not to judge their actions since I have no clue what they are going through. I guess you can say I “woke up and am smelling the roses.”
  • I have gotten rid of my Teflon pans. I drink more water. Doing my art is higher on my list of priorities. I exercise a lot more. I sleep more including naps. My life as a whole has shifted priorities. My pace is less hectic and more relaxed. I try to eliminate or reduce stress in any area of my life that I can. The most important is realizing that I have to take care of me so I can be there for my family.
  • Since my cancer diagnosis I have re-evaluated my life and what is important to me. I decided that I am important to me; therefore I will make sure that I am happy. I don’t mean being selfish, but I do mean making myself my priority. My happiness is the forefront. I have found that sharing my cancer experience, reaching out to others to help and asking for help, has been most helpful to me.
  • I’m a breast cancer survivor; the long course of chemo was really rough, with an unusual number of side effects. I’m not sure these would be classified as changes, but there were several things that really helped to pull me through. I hung onto the Serenity Prayer for deal life: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” Take it a day at a time, hour at a time, sometimes even a minute at a time. I wore a pink bracelet that was inscribed. “Fight like a girl!” that really made me smile; I pictured kicking, screaming, hair pulling and making catty remarks at my cancer. I got the iconic “Rosie the Riveter” poster showering the strong and very determined World War II woman, with the caption “We Can Do it.” I also got both a poster and a mug that said “Keep Calm and Carry On”—that was the King of England’s advice to the British people while they were being shelled by the Nazis almost every night at the beginning of World War II. And my son posted handwritten sign on my refrigerator that said, in a big magic marker letters, “This too shall pass.” When I finally completed treatment, I crossed out “shall” and wrote “did”. This sign stayed on the fridge for more than a year. Now I make a conscious effort to appreciate every day; even the “bad days” are better than a “good” day with cancer.
  • I was always too careful about taking time off or spending money on non-essentials, so the best change I have made is to live in the present. I made this change unconsciously. Soon after my treatments ended, I told my friend that I would love to get a face-lift and she said that in five years I would need another one anyway. I answered, “I don’t think that way anymore. I don’t worry about what is going to happen in five years.” This is very liberating for me to be able to live in the moment and not put off the things that are gratuitous. I can be good to me now with no guilt. (p.s. I didn’t get the face lift. I may be more liberal but my bank account isn’t.)
  • The changes that I have had to make were to slow way down to a crawl. I suppose the most helpful was to smell the roses and be thankful that I am still here.
  • Better diet, make time to de-stress daily, enjoy life. Be happy always!
  • I do not worry about the little things anymore. I enjoy my life and my grandchildren every day and am so glad to be alive.
  • Basically it comes down to enjoying everyday for the special day that it is. I try hard not to get too stressed; it’s bad for your health! I listen more to the people around me. I feel I’m more compassionate, understanding and kind. Cancer was a wake-up call to change my life. It has also brought wonderful people into my life; like doctors, nurses, support group members and friends and family who have rallied around me when I needed them.
  • Since I have stage 4 Breast Cancer, for which there is no cure, I have decided to do things that give me the most pleasure. In my case, it is making and listening to music. I also have learned to pace myself, and say “No”, if it is something that I feel will tire me too much.
  • I have stave iv metastatic cancer and I live every moment of my life as if there will not be another. I pay only enough attention to my health so that I can get up and live each day to the fullest and I try never to talk about it…the disease and its maintenance takes enough of my life, I don’t want to spend any more time on it than I have to. I’ve learned to rest when my body calls for rest and to respond to pain so that it doesn’t get too severe.
  • I realize I needed to improve my overall health and well-being. Since my diagnosis 6 years ago, I have lost over 100 pounds and have kept it off. I have incorporated regular exercises into my week. I never felt like I was treating just cancer; I have been treating my whole self!
  • I have increased my physical activity and I am now walking for several miles every morning. I have found that I am more able to say what I want to say because I am aware that life is fragile. If need to say or do something; now is the best time. I value every day a lot more noticing the minute of my garden growing, the birds, the weather, time with family and friends, and making sure that I am building memories for my children and grandchildren.
  • I eat healthier, exercise as much as I can, and I take one day at a time. The eating healthier is the best change I’ve made.
  • Since my diagnosis I have tried to reduce my stress levels in every way possible. I think keeping a positive outlook is the best medicine.
  • I was diagnosed with stage 2b breast cancer in 2007. I completed active treatment in the spring of 2008. I began working out with a trainer twice a week, which I continue to do religiously, and I eat much healthier. Prior to my diagnosis, I had never been sick and took my good health for granted. I now feel better and am told that I look better than I ever have before.
  • I feel that the greatest change in my life is that I am learning to experience every day to the fullest, as if it may be my last one. I take each new day as a bonus and try to LIVE it. I have worked at accomplishing all the things that I “wanted” to do “one day” and have done most of them.
  • Since my diagnosis of Breast cancer, I have attempted to steer clear of the people, places and things that have a negative affect on my emotional health. Life is good.
  • I have made my life busier than before, so I do not have time to get worried or depressed. That does not mean I don’t follow a healthy diet, get good quality nights sleep, or take time to do things that relax me and my mind. I remind myself how lucky I am to have been diagnosed in time, had corrective surgery, and at age 86 can not only keep up but appear to be physically fitter than most of my contemporaries.
  • I am more in tune with my body; I eat healthier and exercise more. Most importantly I love my life to the fullest every single day! Oh…and I laugh a whole lot more!
  • I started yoga and meditative walks in nature. I had always been physically active with long distance bike riding, hiking, surfing, roller blading, swimming, jogging, etc. But the slower and easier sports bored me. With cancer, I found I needed the mediation time through the slow movements of yoga and I needed to be in nature much more, with meditative and slow walks. I also changed my friends and family in the sense that I do not see those who are no longer pleasant to be around and choose to see only those people who are uplifting and pleasant.
  • I have lived in upstate New York for the past 6 ½ years. Since my diagnosis I’ve been trying to figure out a way to move back to Washington State where my daughter lives. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life (however long it is) with just visits. My husband and I have figured out a way to make it happen. As of August 25th  we will be living back in the Everett WA area with my husband and family!
  • Eating organic foods as much as possible; more vegetables. Exercising more and getting my weight down. Making more of my own decisions about treatment based on my responses to preventative drugs (because of serious side effects).
  • Exercise! Changing it up makes it less boring. I walk, jog, and do strength training. Nothing crazy; I don’t need to look like a body builder just want to maintain a healthy weight and help keep my cancer from returning. Great for your psychological outlook too. Get out in the sunshine and walk!
  • I make exercise and good nutrition priorities. When hungry for a snack I think, “Fruit or Vegetable?”.  I feel more physically fit and like I’m doing what is possible. Meditation time and prayer are the foundation of my day. Making time for artwork (play) takes my mind on vacation.
  • Don’t let my mind limit my energy. Live life as if every day is the last. Be present in the moment and find joy in everyone and everything. Exercise until you cant but also listen to your body. Exercise releases the endorphins that reduce the pain. It really works. I have metastatic breast cancer.
  • I have become more nutrition conscious. I do believe it plays an important role in allowing your body to do what it was designed to do in regards to destroying “foreign invaders”.
  • I practice body and mind awareness. I am more aware of what I eat. I changed to a vegetarian diet, but am aware that is not for every cancer survivor; however mindful eating is something everyone can do. I incorporated a fitness routine, morning and afternoon stretches, when time and energy permits walk and dance. To deal with stress I do breathing exercises and meditation.

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