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Lessons learned from breast cancer


Cancer has taught me a lot of things. I have learned that we are not our bodies. This simple truth is one that took me a long time to learn. My body is sick, not me. I am still here, inside my malfunctioning shell. It is easy to lose sight of it, but our bodies are only containers for our real selves. I now see cancer as a gift rather than an affliction. It destroyed my former life, took everything that I once had from me but it has given me other things. I now have time to read, to study, to write, to find my spirituality. It made me a better human being, gave me back my family and enabled me to gain great satisfaction from helping others. The following are some things I have learned from my journey with breast cancer:Quiet Heals. Healing takes place in peace and quiet. Getting yourself to such a place, internally and externally, is essential to healing. Still the noise, and you will begin to heal. Treat yourself to some quiet time even after your recovery. Everyone needs some time just for you when you take a break and just relax. Use this time to shut out all your troubles, giving yourself a much needed rest. Take this time to do something that will bring you enjoyment. Bend Instead of Breaking. Acknowledge the weight of the burden, then flow with it instead of resisting it. Have Patience. Healing takes time, which in itself is a healing thing. There are no quick fixes and the only way out is through. Impatience, anger and frustration only retard healing. Wait for your cure. Wait for healing. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative. You must be absolutely ruthless in cutting negative people, habits and situations out of your life. Your very survival may depend on this. Anyone who really cares about you will understand that you need a positive attitude and environment in order to get well. Take Control. Be in charge. It's your body, your life, your disease, not the doctors'. You cannot simply hand it to them and expect them to deal with it for you. Be their partner, not their patient. Knowledge is power, so empower yourself by learning all you can. Create Healing Circles. In a support setting, these groups are healing circles unto themselves. Participation in the group is cathartic--for when we share ourselves we receive many gifts. It is healthy to share your story with others for it helps them realize they are not alone, that others have gone through this and survived. For you, it is another step forward to wellness. You realize things about yourself that surprise you. You find you are a lot stronger than you ever thought you were. You have new priorities. You appreciate life and now stop to enjoy it. You notice all the little things you never noticed before. You have a greater depth of compassion, patience and love. You are grateful to be alive. Others notice these things about you and learn from you.Take One Day at a Time. I have learned that the best thing I can do is live just for today. The past is over and done with ... you can't change it, so let it go. The future isn't here yet, so why worry about it? All you have is today, with all its promise. Live each day the best you can and you will do well. Life is a Gift. Surviving a life-threatening illness has given you a second chance. Learn from your past mistakes. Marie Canfield is a cancer advocate who focuses on political policies to advance patient rights. She mentors patients through the process of diagnosis, treatment and recovery. She is currently in treatment for her third recurrence of metastatic breast cancer. "I have seen many advances in cancer treatment and they have all been for the better. I tell everyone--attitude is everything. Learn to go with the flow and don't sweat the small stuff. Never lose hope for it is always there even in the smallest of things. Life truly is a gift, and for me...wow, what a ride."

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