A woman holds a light in her hands

Here For a Reason

I never used to believe that we are put in certain places at a specific time “FOR A REASON”. I truly believed there was not a Great Design. For me, cancer changed all of that. For reasons not yet known by modern medicine, I have lived 8 years beyond any guesstimate my doctors gave.

Cancer can influence new ways of thinking

Nine years of survival seemed almost surreal when I passed that mark recently. Stage IV lung cancer patients who make it this far are few and far between. My sister once described me as a unicorn -- a mythical beast, a description I embrace.

While I am not a particularly religious person I am quite spiritual and I do believe in a Higher Power. That Power gifted me with life beyond the limits most lung cancer patients experience and expects me to find and create new meaning with the extra time I have been granted. Helping other cancer patients come to terms with their disease and finding services to help them get past the physical and emotional devastation caused by cancer has become a bit of an obsession.

We are more alike than different

In my effort to help myself and others I made a point of learning everything I can about my cancer. Participation in a Living With Cancer support group at my local cancer support community taught me that I have more in common with people who have other cancers than differences. Many issues dealing with treatment side effects are pan-cancer. The strategies I’ve learned to deal with treatment side effects, long term side effects and the psychological and social effects of cancer can be shared with all cancer patients. To that end, I volunteer in the oncology program at my hospital.

Power of our shared stories

But what does that have to do with my opening statement, right? I never know when or where the opportunity to engage with another patient will occur. This morning sitting waiting for a flight to Philadelphia to meet with a host of other health bloggers I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me. As it turned out the daughter who would walk with her to the gate was recently diagnosed with blood cancer. The daughter and I developed a deep connection in a very short period of time. She is the reason I selected the flight I waited for. I am blessed to be able to reach out and share with her the amazing possibilities of life with cancer.

As I shared my experiences and accomplishments as a survivor she broke into tears. She didn’t know that she could live let alone regain any degree of strength and stamina. No one had shared the myriad of resources available in our community to help her achieve her best possible life. She was without hope and I was blessed to help her find it.

Hope is everything

It’s my belief that this is why my higher power has spared me. Not every cancer has the abysmal survival statistics and outcomes that lung cancer has, but every cancer is devastating in its own way. My purpose is to share hope and make certain that others understand they can live their best life -- whether that life is 2 months or 20 years. You have to know and believe that hope is possible before you can embrace it. Hope is all. Hope is everything.

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