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And Then, My World Turned Black…

I’ve been rocking along lately as happy as a lark. I have so many good things in my life right now that yesterday I came up with a whole list of what having lung cancer has meant to me: new friends, new adventures, retirement and the time to enjoy life, the opportunities to serve on meaningful advisory boards and to, hopefully, make a difference for cancer patients one day.

The good and bad days

I celebrate living, every single day. I get up and face days so full that I can’t possibly fit everything in. And, nearly every day, I happily think, “life is good.”

And then something happens that smashes a great big black hole right into the middle my bright, beautiful, utopian world. Usually, it is a Facebook post, though I have eschewed Facebook recently due to its political meanness. Today, the bomb came in an email.

Here’s some history …

Starting my blog: Hope and Survive

One of the first things I did after I was diagnosed was to start a blogger site. I thought it would be the perfect vehicle to keep family and friends informed of how I was doing and I hoped it might give other lung cancer patients some hope. I unoriginally named it, “Facing Lung Cancer.”

My initial intention was to document every single day of my life with posts and pictures on the blog. That didn’t happen. Life got in the way of my plans. I would forget or, often, I’d be too tired to post.

But, from time to time, new and hopeful entries would be made. After a friend told me that he could never leave comments on my posts, I moved the blog to my own server and renamed it Hope and Survive.

A new friend in need of hope

Soon after I started the new blog site, I got a post from a young woman who desperately needed hope. She said she couldn’t believe she was writing to me because she is a very private person. However, something in the blogs she read resonated with her and she felt compelled to write. She said she was so scared. She has two young children and a husband she loves very much. And, her cancer diagnosis was leaving her trembling, even though she was doing quite well at the time.

I have tried over the months to share my sunny outlook on life with her. Unfortunately, I have never been able to convince her to look past her cancer and to remember that as long as she is breathing, she still has a life to live and memories to make. Mostly, I’ve tried to get her to leave her worry aside because it is making her miserable and, in my opinion, is unproductive. I haven’t been very successful.

A loss for words

Today, I got a very short email from her. It started, “I just got my scan results back. It shows my tumors are growing and I’m dying.”

And my big beautiful world turned black…

What do I say to this young mom who has so many reasons to live? How do I justify my own existence when she’s looking at the end of hers? What hope do you send to someone in this situation, especially when they are not a person of faith? The answers elude me.

Helping how I can

I wrote her back and told her the truth. I simply don’t know what to say or do to make it any better. I’ll be here to listen, to offer a shoulder, to pray (because even if she doesn’t believe, I do), but past that … I just don’t know what I can do.

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.


  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    7 months ago

    Donna, I’m so happy you started that blog; as it’s cathartic for you, and comforting for someone else.
    As for “Lost for Words” I’m sure that was very hard to grasp reading reader’s fate. It’s hard to understand why some may not have the best turn out than yourself. There are things that are not explainable and you shouldn’t have to. At this stage, all you can do is listen, and sometimes that is good enough. The shoulder is a better tool than coming up with reasons. Best!

  • edydede
    7 months ago

    Every one will die of one thing or another. Some time this awful disease will get you earlier than later.
    I have/had lung cancer for the past 2 years. It’s been quite a ride. Surgery, Chemo and radiation. The only thing that saved my life was that it was caught early.
    I’m very sorry this is happening to you. We all have families that worry about you. For their sake try some of the new advances that have come along to extend your life.
    There is nothing for me to try because I have Small cell cancer. There is no research that has been done after all these years. I live everyday one day at a time.
    I hope there is something out there that can help you. I pray there is. All my best to you.

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