Jane is a ten-year survivor of a very rare form of cancer Myelodysplastic Syndrome. She has enjoyed several exciting careers including a librarian, counselor, teacher, and writer. She loves to write about surviving cancer, overcoming hearing loss, and her hearing ear service dog, Sita.
The attitude we have makes a huge difference in our lives and with cancer, a positive attitude can help us to live longer!
I bought a 2019 daily doggy calendar online featuring all different breeds of dogs. There is a wise saying for each day pictured with an adorable dog. I am truly a dog lover and enjoy motivational quotes, so this was a perfect gift to me. By the way, I also gave a calendar to three of my “doggy” friends for Christmas, so I do share!
One day a yellow lab which looked exactly like my hearing ear dog, Sita, popped up with a famous quote by Winston Churchill: “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
Ten little words that ring ever so powerful. I learned a long time ago that the happiest people are not necessarily the richest, for example. I went to a very diverse high school with both rich and poor students and I observed them from afar. I remember going home and saying to my Mother that the rich kids were not the happiest. As I grew and matured from facing my own demons of depression, I realized that it was not what happened to me that determined my happiness, but how I reacted. Several years of counseling helped me with this.
But honestly — it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with cancer that I realized how much my attitude influenced me. I started to blog and mingle with other cancer survivors. What really made an impression on me was how positive people can be who had been suffering from cancer, assaulted with side effects and undergone horrible treatments such as chemo and immunotherapy for years. I knew one of the reasons they were living so long (besides getting wonderful medical help) was that they had a positive attitude to face each new day without fear.
I also observed my oncologist, who is one in a million. She quietly told me one time that her patients seem to live longer than most. I responded with, “Of course they do. I am not surprised. Your spirituality and healing shines through.” Also, she spends hours every evening researching and trying to find new treatments for every single patient.
Every type of cancer starts with malformed cells — sometimes just one. But what happens after that is dependent on many factors.
I do not mean to imply that attitude is the only factor, because I have lost too many relatives and friends who fought so hard and lost the battle. Some cancers are just too far gone and the treatments are not working.
However, if we are diagnosed with a cancer and have a chance, I believe attitude can be a huge factor.
I have a dear friend who I have known for over 35 years. She is such a role model for me. She was born profoundly deaf and had a difficult time with hearing family members who didn’t always understand her. She went on to get her master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling and spent a lifetime helping deaf and hard of hearing people to get jobs. Two years before retirement, she collapsed in an unbelievable episode where her spinal discs gave way and she was permanently paralyzed from the waist on down. Her response was “Well, it isn’t my hands so I can still sign.”
Despite many years of occupation therapy, physical therapy and other treatments, she has remained paralyzed for over a decade. Now she is often bedfast because of horrible wounds from sitting in her wheelchair too long. I walked into her bedroom one day and she was making blankets for her church. “This is something I can do from bed,” she said.
Every time I feel the least bit sorry for myself because of my chemo, I think of her being bedridden. She was one of the most active people I ever knew. She was forced to quit her job and is unable to go to the church she loves. Additionally, she lost one of her dearest friends from a sudden heart attack. Yet her tremendous faith, determination and positive attitude keep her going. She always greets me with a smile and a heartfelt, “How are you?”
My service dog is almost 14 and has a limp, arthritis and problems getting up and down. But when it is time to leave the house and go in the morning, she jumps up and down in anticipation and excitement.
Attitude doesn’t always help us to live longer, but it certainly can help us to live better. It makes every day a gift we can enjoy for the next 24 hours. It is amazing what I have learned from my doctor, my dog and my best friend!