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I Have Cancer, But It Doesn’t Have Me

When I try to describe my relationship with cancer, I often find it difficult to put it into words. But, I’m going to give it one more try here today.

Here it is, as simply as I know how to put it. I have cancer. But cancer does not have me. No way. No how.

Yes, I have lung cancer

I cannot deny that I have a deadly disease residing in my body. Right now, it is stable. But, I am not such a Pollyanna that I am not fully aware that the time will come one of these days when it outsmarts the immunotherapy that has held it at bay for the last five-plus years. Perhaps there will be another treatment for us to try that will extend my life a bit, perhaps there won’t be. Only time will tell.

So, yes, I have lung cancer. It is a devastating diagnosis, there is no argument. It is the most deadly cancer in the world. It is the most underfunded cancer in the world, too. What that means is that the likelihood of new cures or treatments is diminished compared to cancers that have better financial support. Sadly, most people who get a lung cancer diagnosis, especially a late-stage diagnosis like so many of us get, don’t have a great prognosis.

But, you know what? Cancer can steal my energy, my strength, my stamina, and ultimately my life, but it cannot take my faith, my spirit, my determination, or my peace. I won’t let it.

Where am I putting my energy?

Here’s how I look at it. I can allow my diagnosis to make me a bitter person. I can focus on what it has taken away from me. Because of my diagnosis, I had to quit my job. I pared back and ultimately quit participating in my favorite sport of all time, agility with my dogs. Some friends disappeared. My mind is like a sieve. Holding onto a memory or a thought can be a true challenge.

When I was diagnosed right after I turned 59 years of age, things were going my way. The future looked bright.

I can allow myself to mourn what is lost. Or, I can choose to focus on what is positive in my life, despite my cancer. The way I look at it, if I choose to allow the negatives of the disease drag me down while I am still alive, well, the disease wins. It takes control of my life while I am still living.

Yeah. No. That’s not going to happen. You see, the disease may be present in my life, but it is not my life. I will not allow it to occupy every thought. I will not allow it to steal my joy. I will not allow it to take my peace or compassion or zest for living.

The silver lining of my diagnosis

Here are some things that have come my way as a result of my diagnosis:

  • I have more time to pursue things that make me happy.
  • I have discovered new hobbies.
  • I have made some of the best friends in the world that I would have never had the privilege of getting to know if we didn’t share a common diagnosis.
  • I have had exciting opportunities like being on the national news, speaking to Congress, making videos, and traveling the U.S. that I would have never, ever had if not for lung cancer.
  • I have found a new appreciation for each and every day.
  • I have learned that I can face nearly anything without allowing it to make me hard or bitter.

So, lung cancer may, and probably will someday take my life. I may not live as many years as I would have if I had not developed lung cancer (of course, no one knows if that is true or not). But, I hope that when I draw my last breath, people will be able to say with the greatest confidence, “She didn’t let cancer steal her zest for life, her humor, or her faith. She may have had cancer, but it certainly did not have her.”

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • mrsfjel70
    1 month ago

    Oh, my sentiments exactly. Thanks for expressing in such a simple and direct way!

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