From Devastating Setback in Treatment to Blessing


“And… ok, that’s enough!” That was my brain’s reaction after the oncologist broke the news.

cartoon drawing of cancer survivor and blogger, Steve Rubin

My family and I had been peppering him with questions after scans showed yet another recurrence; frantically in search of some understanding on how my situation could possibly improve at this point. That’s when the oncologist explained the 5 year survival rate for my metastatic osteosarcoma was less than 10%.

I shot up from my seat in pure panic and burst out the door. Pacing around the hallway, my mind tried to erase what it just heard… No, no, no. Not happening. Didn’t just hear that.

Little did I know, this devastating setback may have actually been the turning point that led to saving my life. 

When I returned to the room, we discussed a clinical trial. But it was unproven and after chemo and multiple surgeries, I wasn’t feeling confident that this would be the thing that saved my life. I ultimately held off.

My conventional treatment options were now limited, which nudged me to explore alternative and more natural approaches. I spent the next few years researching and tearing through books on healing. An all-out crash course on health and wellness.

I also expanded my team, bringing on new doctors and specialists and consulting all their opinions. This helped me develop a balanced perspective and consider multiple opinions before making big decisions.

The pressure of not having an answer in sight kept me hyper disciplined in my commitment to a wellness-focused lifestyle. One day at a time. I pushed myself to keep learning and experimenting with different therapies, supplements and regimens that might move the needle (always under the guidance and oversight of doctors).

My situation improved over time. Scan results got better and better, and then eventually I received my first clear scans.

As terrifying as learning about my survival rate had been, this moment of triumph epitomized the opposite side of the coin— typhoon sized waves of bliss, joy, pride and relief all rushed through me. There were also tears, but the good kind this time.

Looking back, receiving such a devastating prognosis may have scared me straight— it crippled me with paralyzing stress; days went by where it was hard to breathe, hard to manage the pounding tension of there not being a solution in sight.

And yet the sheer terror of it all also acted as my launchpad. Fear fueled me to push myself harder than ever, take new chances and learn about my true potential in life.

It taught me that you can’t always see the bigger picture along your path. But to trust the process anyway and keep moving forward. And that occasionally, even the most intimidating setbacks can actually be a puzzle with a blessing lodged inside... even if you can’t make it out at first. 

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.

Related Videos
Brandi Benson, sarcoma survivor and military veteran, in an interview with CURE
Related Content