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Running Through the Gate of Cancer

A survivor talks about leaving the gate open and racing out of it when diagnosed with cancer.
PUBLISHED April 03, 2020
Jane has earned three advanced degrees and had several fulfilling careers as a librarian, rehabilitation counselor and college teacher. Presently she does freelance writing. Her articles include the subjects of hearing loss and deafness, service dogs and struggling with cancer. She has been a cancer survivor since 2010.

She has myelodysplastic syndrome, which is rare, and would love to communicate with others who have MDS.
I recently saw this quote on a magnet beside a picture of a horse running. It said, “Live like someone left the gate open.” I added it to my huge collection of magnets on my refrigerator.

Initially, I thought this is an excellent motto to live by and thought it was “cute.” But as I continued to contemplate, I realized why I was drawn to this simple, little inexpensive magnet.

Cancer was my gate! I had always felt before the diagnosis that I was living life to the fullest. I had several advanced degrees, different professions that I loved, and had done some travel. I had always worked long hours and tried to be of service to others. Most important, I had wonderful friends, neighbors and family.

Then along came the cancer diagnosis – incurable cancer with a time limit.

What did I change? I was forced to give up my jobs. I decided to spend my time and money on travel and take annual cruises when able. I joined a wonderful church that does lots of mission work. I wanted to spend my volunteer time with the church, and also as a member of the Patient Advisory Council at the Cancer Center where I receive my treatments. Writing then became my top priority.

I also had to change my attitude. I often, in my own words, tend to “stew and worry and carry on.”  If someone cut me off in traffic I was angry about it for several minutes afterward. I worried constantly about slights, real or imagined, because I wanted everyone to like me. Then after cancer, I realized I have no more time to stew. Do I really want to pout all day to myself about a slight, when I am alive and thankful for living? And what am I doing always thinking of myself, when so many other people need a card, visit, e-mail, tweet, or phone call to encourage them?

I found myself much happier.  I wish it had not taken cancer to learn this worthwhile lesson.

I am trying not to spend any time worrying, but old habits die hard and I have to work at it constantly. I realize I need to spend every day not worrying, being happy and doing the things I love. Yes – cancer was my gate and it opened me up to a whole new way of life! 
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