Reclaim My Life After Lung Cancer
Last updated: February 2022
Before I was diagnosed with lung cancer 6.5 years ago, I was a professor, a mother, and a wife. Life was busy but rewarding and fulfilling. After I had lung cancer, besides fighting for my life, I was constantly worried about staying idle and not feeling fulfilled in my life. I was, on purpose, filling up my timetable because I dread not having anything to do.
I desperately wanted to reclaim my life after the lung cancer, but is there life after lung cancer? I wasn't sure.
I'm not going to repeat my life
After three years of struggling with lung cancer and treatment side effects, my cancer was finally under control. I decided that I wouldn't go back to being a professor anymore. My decision surprised many people around me because I was such a "go-go" person devoting to my career. I thought God gave me a second chance to live; how boring it is to repeat life. I would live in a new way.
In the beginning, I tried to pick up the hobbies that I always wanted to do, but I didn't have time to do. For example, I enjoy classical music, painting, and cooking, but I didn't have time to enjoy it before I got sick. So I get all the opportunities to go to museums and concerts online and in-person worldwide. Also, I love different ethnic cuisines, but I don't have the talent to cook them, but I can still enjoy ethnic food.
I was soon bored and wasn't satisfied with my life although it was pressure-free.
I become a cancer advocate!
I couldn't stay idle and unsatisfied or unfulfilled about my life, and I didn't want to go back to become a professor. So then I got involved with lung cancer advocacy.
As I had never been an advocate before, I tried everything to find the most impactful and suitable advocacy. For example, I talked to newly diagnosed lung cancer patients and organized my city’s support group. Later, I have also attended conferences and various meetings online or in-person related to cancer and being interviewed by different pharms and cancer organizations. I also regularly wrote articles for LungCancer.net about my cancer life, organized fundraising, and participated in political advocacy for cancer patients. Recently, I started to review grant applications for various cancer organizations.
I found my place
After three years of trial-and-error, I found my place to review the grant applications for cancer research and regularly write articles for LungCancer.net.
From September 2021, I started to review research grants for three Canadian cancer organizations, and I also served as a reviewer for ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation for three years. I have to be trained for the ASCO Conquer Cancer Foundation for six months for reviewing the grants. Because I used to review the grants when I was a professor in Canada, it's not too foreign to review the grant applications, except now it's about cancer research. However, the grants for cancer research mean much more to me. Such applications represent the future most potential advances and most urgent and most impactful cancer research directions.
Looking back for three-plus years, I was lucky that I tried different advocacy. So not only do I know what suits me the most, but I also got familiar with the landscape of cancer advocacy. But more importantly, I got to know so many cancer advocates, which I didn't anticipate.
My life after lung cancer is more fulfilling than before
To my surprise, I have lived a more balanced and fulfilling life after I got lung cancer. I had satisfied my thirst to be an engineering professor to make our life more modernized (in a small way), but now I'm going to explore the world of cancer advocacy. I won't allow cancer to define me. I reclaimed my life, and there is a life after cancer.
What healthy habits do you use to improve the quality of your life?