Cancer Taught Me an Unexpected Lesson

Despite my mother and grandmother’s history with the disease, I never thought I would one day receive a colon cancer diagnosis.

As a young girl, I lived life to the fullest, never second guessing my health, strength or longevity. I loved fitness, tennis, gardening, raising my athletic kids and enjoying my life with my husband who was a multi-sport college athlete. Never have I been sick longer than a day or two, and I always bounced back quickly.

Yet as I turned the corner of a new year in my early 60s, I received the news no one ever thinks will apply to them. Even with a hereditary link of my mother and grandmother having colon cancer, I didn’t think it would be me.

Immediately after my stage 4 colon cancer diagnosis, I began to understand others in my past, present and future life, who have had to travel this journey. So many of us hear that others were diagnosed with cancer or that a neighbor lost their spouse from this awful disease, or worse, watch as family member struggles with the treatments that come with the battle. But until it happens to you, you have no idea what cancer does to your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

As I was recuperating from surgery and starting chemotherapy, I received a call that two of my sisters-in-law received breast cancer diagnoses. They had different treatment paths, but I had a first-row seat in understanding what it meant and what was to come.

From the beginning of my ordeal, I was convinced that I was not doing enough, not understanding enough and not knowing how to talk with someone who is in the throes of a battle.

No one was in a better position to council another about the fight, resolve and faith it requires to take on such a foe, than one who has been or is going through it. I had several of those “angels” who understood because of their own cancer story. I’m so grateful for them and their ability to reach out.

Both sisters-in-law are finished with their treatments, and I am continuing immunotherapy after 10 rounds of chemotherapy to reach the goal of being cancer free. Now, my empathy remains and hopefully drives me to never forget and always be of service to others who need counsel.

I don’t have all the answers, but what I know for sure is that it could happen to anyone regardless of age, health and status. Kind words or understanding conversation, offering to drop off medication or a meal, even picking up a child, might be the best medicine they could have that day.

None of us chose to join this club but using what you have learned to be helpful is the least we could pass on to the next unassuming member who never thought they would be here. 

This article was written and submitted by Lori Guthrie, a colon cancer survivor.

This article reflects the views of Lori Guthrie and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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