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5 Things My Cancer Taught Me

“A woman is like a teabag - you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Things I've learned from my skin cancer

Those five things include:

1. How strong I am

It’s so true that you don’t know how strong you are until you are put to the test. I always had this feeling in the back of my mind that one day I would go through something difficult with my health. I’ve even had many dreams about it in the past, but I never thought it would start when I was 30 years old. I knew I was pretty strong, but I didn’t realize just how resilient I really was. From the very first day of my diagnosis, I have soldiered on and I’m proud of myself. Where some people would have broken, I grew and became even tougher.

2. How much I was asleep at the wheel

When you hear the words ‘stage 4’ cancer and the idea of mortality becomes front of mind, it really puts your whole life in perspective. Cancer taught me I was just going through the paces. It’s not like I wanted to skydive or start partying or even see far off places, it was more about the small things. Am I nurturing my friendships enough? Am I happy with the person that I am on a day-to-day basis? Since my diagnosis I have worked every day to build a life for myself that brings me joy - Marie Kondo would be so proud.

3. To be grateful

I have always been someone who is thankful for things in my life - that’s the religious upbringing in me. But my cancer taught me, even on the really hard days there is always a silver lining and focusing on that makes a big difference. Taking a moment each day to think about all of the little things you are grateful for, can really turn your whole perspective around.

4. Empathy

Telling someone you have cancer isn’t easy and some of the things people say in response are truly baffling and I myself may have been guilty of saying similar things to people when the roles were reversed. But after being on the receiving end of some pretty frustrating comments, my cancer has taught me truly what empathy is and how to support the people in my life better from now on.

5. What my friends are made of

One of the best and worst things about cancer is that it can build or break your relationships. I won’t lie, the way some of my friends supported me during this time has highlighted to me they may not have been the friend I thought they were and that’s not easy to realize, forget, or mend. The opposite was also true, people who I thought were more causal friends, have really stepped up and I’ve even made some new friends that are now some of my strongest relationships.

Obviously, I have learned so many more things about myself and each day is new. What has cancer taught you?

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