Cancer Gives and Takes Away

December 29, 2017
Doris Cardwell
Doris Cardwell

Doris Cardwell received a life-changing diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer in 2007. While undergoing treatment, she co-founded a mentor program for the cancer center treating her. She also created community events to educate, encourage and empower people regarding cancer. Doris was the first Survivorship Community Outreach Liaison for her local cancer center. She is an advocate, educator and encourager on issues facing cancer survivors. Doris is a wife, mother, empty nester, survivor of life and lover of all things coffee. An avid speaker and blogger, she is available at

Throughout our cancer journey there will be many losses. There will also be some gifts. Focusing on the gifts in times of sadness may help us process pain.

Today another person I had grown to know and love through my cancer journey entered a hospice home. I could barely hold back the tears.

I knew him through our local cancer center. As I thought about the many cancers and cancer-related issues I watched him face, my deep sadness lifted for a moment. I recalled having him speak at a community cancer education event, encouraging other men to visit their doctors. I could hear his daughter's voice as she shared how cancer had returned her father to her. A relationship mended, strengthened and new bonds being formed.

I recall seeing him volunteer to help others many, many times. In the nine years that I have known him, countless lives have been touched and changed. I could recount story after story. As I ponder these facts, I am still sad. I feel sad for family who will experience deep grief. I feel sadness for friends who will no longer see his bright light. I feel sad for patients who adjust to him not being around the cancer center as a volunteer. Yet amidst all this deep sadness and loss with the passing of another "cancer friend," I also feel deep joy. Joy that he had nine unexpected, miraculous years. Joy that in this cancer journey filled with pain, suffering and loss, I am a better person for having known him.

Cancer gives and takes. When faced with the taking side, it can help to ponder the gifts. Whether they are many or few and far between, gratitude for the gifts may help us process loss.

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