Does Cancer Become Who We Are?

October 29, 2018
Jane Biehl Ph.D.
Jane Biehl Ph.D.

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.

Cancer can affect all areas of life, in both good and bad ways.

Several of us bloggers have written about how cancer has impacted us. We fight to tell people, “I am more than my cancer.” CURE recently launched a campaign, which I love, called “more than a patient.”

I certainly agree and there are many other aspects of my life. I am a sister, aunt, friend, church member, sports fan, writer, reader, animal lover, speaker and on and on.

However, I must admit that since my diagnosis, the cancer has permeated into every area of my life, both in a positive and negative way.

I can no longer take long walks because of aching muscles. I can’t attend sports events which involve too many stairs. I am unable to ride in the car for long periods of time. Because of the chemo and cancer, I am constantly fatigued. I am profoundly deaf from the chemo I was on. None of this will ever change. That is just some of the negatives.

However, I have changed in positive ways, too. I used to be extremely driven and work-oriented. Now I drop work to spend more time with my friends and family. I no longer worry about every little thing. When one is given a time limit to live, this “small stuff” doesn’t seem important anymore. I am full of gratitude and thankful for each and every day I am alive. I cherish the time left with my 14-year-old service dog. I love it when my cat curls up in my lap and purrs, because he is getting older, too.

I recently celebrated a birthday and am proud of being elderly! I try not to worry as much about money matters, and what will happen in the future. I realize that every single moment I worry wastes any time I have left on this earth.

I could say a lot more, but you get the point. Cancer has done positive things for me too.

Cancer is not who I am, but much more. I am more than my cancer. I am more than a patient. I have been able to combine cancer with who I have become. I know all of us cancer survivors have done this and that is a wonderful achievement!

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