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The Road to Grateful, Not Hateful

The Road to Grateful, Not Hateful

Let’s play a game.  We’ll call it “Ever Heard This Cliché?” Okay…first one: “Every cloud has a silver lining.”  Number two: “If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  Number three: “Laughter is the best medicine.”  Let’s end with this oldie but goodie: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

Life after a life-changing diagnosis

I think it’s fair to say, when those of us with lung cancer were initially diagnosed, it felt like a real sucker punch to the stomach.  It took time to process the enormity of what we had thrust upon us.  We may have even begun a journey through what has come to be known as the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.

What I’ve found through conversation with other lung cancer patients is that sometimes people get stuck somewhere along the way, and it is important to note that the first four stages all have negative implications.  Medical studies have shown that stress can actually increase the growth rate of cancer.1

So, what can we do to decrease the consequences stress might produce?  After all, we still have cancer, and it’s still an enemy to be reckoned with.  Let’s start with making a conscious effort each morning to name at least five things we are thankful for that day.  Here are some ideas.

  1. Family members who care about us.
  2. The comforts of our home.
  3. The beauty of our natural surroundings.
  4. The knowledge and skill of our medical team.
  5. Great books or TV shows that let our imagination run free.

Now, let’s get back to the original clichés

What are some ways we can actually make them true in our circumstances, even though we may be scared, tired, unhappy and even angry at times?  We can try to look at life in a different way.  For me, and many whom I’ve spoken with, we found that after the initial shock of our cancer diagnosis wore off, we recognized that a new focus had entered our lives.  We began to think about what is most important to us on a deep level.  When life is in the balance, the little irritants and frustrations can become irrelevant.  Desire to create a positive legacy and sharing time with those we love take precedence over other things in life that once seemed important, but now appear trivial in comparison.  This can be our own silver lining.  Making lemonade, you know.

And laughter…it does indeed have many health benefits.2 While it may not cure cancer, it can help reduce the stress and sadness that often go hand in hand with it, and it has been shown to increase people’s ability to endure pain.  So, is laughter the best medicine?  Well, let’s put it this way.  It’s free, it’s easy and it’s socially acceptable.  Why not try it?

Lung cancer is tough.  In fact, it’s monster tough.  That’s why we, as patients, can’t sit back and let it run roughshod over us.  Even when we feel beaten down, there are always things we can do.  Be tough fellow cancer warriors.  Get going!  Be grateful and not hateful.

Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on June 8, 2019, Karen Loss passed away. Karen was a valued member of the lung cancer community and an incredible advocate and avid writer. She will be deeply missed.

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.

  1. How Chronic Stress Promotes Spread of Cancer, and What You Can Do About It. 3/24/16. Available at:
  2. Stress relief from laughter? It's no joke. Mayo Clinic. Available at:


  • vikkr
    8 months ago


  • hedgiemom
    12 months ago

    You are right about being grateful. I am thankful for my friends that are pulling for me. They visit or call and send cards. I have a husband that loves me and is doing his darndest to help me get through this. I thank the Lord everyday that my eyes are open to the heaven on earth, where I live! I am grateful for my comfy house, especially since it’s been below freezing here for almost a month now.
    I do experience anger because my past Dr’s did nothing about all the warning sign symptoms I was having. I did not know they were warning signs, but as medical professionals and my history, they should of been more proactive! It is hard to trust a dr., now.

  • Karen Loss author
    12 months ago

    I hear you, hedgiemom. Trying to see the good does not mean the bad goes away. It’s still there, and we can’t help but get angry and frustrated sometimes. I just try to keep my eyes on the wider picture since we all know the sun does break through the clouds and rainbows can happen after the storm.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspective. Certainly wishing you well going forward.

  • Dinah77_
    2 years ago

    God is Good!I am so grateful that 77 yrs young, 5 yrs ago had brain surgery,Feb 2018 Lung Cancer Surgery,removed half of my left Lung,I am ALIVE !!!!! Trying to adjust to after effects,restless sleep,,Not enough sleep,easily fatigue,No energy,withdrawn,cant stand noise,crowds.
    I am alive

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    12 months ago

    @dinah77_ Happy your surgery went well. The side effects are a drag but continue to tolerate, as you move forward “Alive and Kicking”- Best!

  • Karen Loss author
    2 years ago

    Thank you for your response to this column. You are right. God is good…and you are alive. Life sometimes does, indeed, present us with hardships and serious challenges, but the way we face them can make a big difference. I’m glad you are choosing to include the good things in your focus, even as you face the difficulties. You have my respect and best wishes.

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