The Best Part About Having Cancer

Looking for the silver lining during cancer isn't always easy, but it is possible.

When I was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer at the age of 45, I was so sad, so angry and so incredibly depressed that I vowed I would never find anything good to say about cancer.

Of course, platitudes were offered to me immediately.

“Everything happens for a reason.” It does not.

“You look great!” I didn’t.

Then there is my personal least favorite, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” Really, what is trying to kill you just keeps on trying.

I had the crappy attitude down pat and it would only go away when someone pried it from my cold, dead hands.

Fortunately, I have a short attention span and being mad all the time got old fast. When it became clear that surgery and chemotherapy had done little to deter my cancer, I got my dander up in a different way. Surviving was going to be a hell of a fight, but I was game.

Cancer and I have been at it for 11 years now, and you’d think we’d just call it a draw. Unfortunately, that is not an option, so I had to figure out how to live with my disease. I still detest this unwelcome houseguest, but now acknowledge that cancer has given me a very special gift.

Yes, I did say gift. The very best part about having cancer (and there are a couple of other teensy weensy things that fall under the character development category) is the people. Because I have cancer, I have met, interacted with and fallen head over heals for an extraordinary number of people. My medical team, support staff, amazing social worker, fellow advocates, friends at the Koch Institute and Camp Kesem and so many others who have also been smacked upside the head by cancer. They are beautiful people whom I have loved, respected and sometimes lost. They are individuals who have made my life richer than I ever thought it could be.

So there you go, cancer. Where you would have laid waste, I found, instead, utopia. I think you should just fold now.