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Has Cancer Been ALL Bad For You?

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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This post was started on the Colon Cancer section of the site by me. As of Saturday, Feb 27, at 11:40 pm there were 77 responses. I'm curious what kind of comments I get on this section of the site:

We all either face the effects of cancer or are caregivers to those who do. I think it's safe to say that cancer is not one the the best things that has happened to us.

Have you found something positive that has come out of your cancer diagnosis that you may not have realized if you were not diagnosed with cancer? If so, would you care to share?

I have found that cancer has given me an even greater appreciation for the simpler things in life. The bird chirping, the sunrise/sunset, the way light highlights my wife's face...

RE's picture
RE
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I have put off answering this question as I thought it through. Cancer has been an in my face part of my life since I was 17 and my mom was dx with breast cancer. We battled it with her for 27 years, then my sister got it, then I got it. I lost my mom, sister,an aunt, sister in-law, two brother in-laws, and one very good friend all to cancer. It has done little to bring joy into my life, however there has been good that has come from my cancer battles.

1) My father found religion and has a strong faith that God is out there.
2) My husband found God which surprised the dickens out of me, but gave me much joy.
3) Cancer has given me the special people I have met here.
4) Insight into what is truly important and what is not worth arguing over.
5) Has given myself, my husband and my children the reality that we do not live forever and we should value each other and everyday.
6) Cancer is an illness it is not ME, I am more than cancer and I choose to be happy in spite of all that cancer has done to my family and myself.
7) It has given me a greater awareness of my surroundings like the clouds, animals, beauty of the waves, mountains, birds singing and such.
8) I do believe it has given my husband and I a greater appreciation for one another.

I am sure there are other things I could come up with but for now this is my list. My best to each of you.

RE

dixiegirl's picture
dixiegirl
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I couldn't say it better!

mariam_11_09's picture
mariam_11_09
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In many ways it is a truly a gift from God, an opportunity to do some deep and profound spiritual work. Not I am not always smiling and there are moments when I feel sad or afraid or tired and worn out. In addition there many moments where I feel a deep gratitude for what is here right now.

CanadaSue's picture
CanadaSue
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The past 4 years have been a rollercoaster ride for sure....

It has turned our world upside down. Some days I wish for our normal life, only to realize we now have to deal with a new normal. Would I wish this journey on anyone - no way...

The things we used to take for granted, we no longer do. All the trips we one day planned to take, have been taken.

So, not everything has been bad - it has been an eye opener, one that I wish more people could live by without having to go thru this hell called cancer.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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I think most people can see there is SOME good thing or things that may have happened if not for cancer opening our eyes to some extend. I know we all have different experiences but even if it's finding comfort on this site, then it's something good IMO.
Believe me, life is no bowl of cherries (or bowels of cherries either!)
Thanks for your and everyone's responses so far.
-phil

RE's picture
RE
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You know Sue we chatted before as I recall. I have battled cancer 3 times so far, the last time my husband nearly quit his job to hang out with me....he would have regretted that LOL! We have decided that if it returns before he actually retires that will be it for his work on the road we go to see and do as much of the things we want too as is possible. It is nice to hear you managed to see what your hearts desired.

Hugs,

RE

CanadaSue's picture
CanadaSue
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Hi RE,

Yes we have talked.

I wish I had the option to stay home, but I don't have that choice right now.

The year after Bill was dx'ed his boss sent us on a cruise to Alaska, that was a trip we had talked about doing for atleast 10 years. Last year we travelled to Seattle to See a major league baseball game, we are hoping to travel to the east coast this year.

The company I work for have been so good to us. I can have time off whenever I need it, I don't abuse it but I do go to appointments with Bill. We had to travel 200 miles twice now for surgeries and my company has a condo there, which we were able to use at no cost to us, and it was only 10 minutes from the hospital. And to think I was starting to look for a job closer to home when all this started....

We have been blessed with so many people fighting right along side of us thru this journey!

And I am not sure where I would be mentally if not for this board, I came here scared, depressed, not knowing what to think. I was soon put at ease, and learned that stage 4 colon cancer was not an automatic death sentence. We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we will deal with it when it arrives.

I give thanks, for everyday we do have together!

Have a great weekend RE and Phil

RE's picture
RE
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doubled posted darn it.

Hugs,

RE

Hondo's picture
Hondo
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I guess I can’t say it was all that bad; it made me thankful for the people in my life that I have somehow overlooked; It made my Wife, children and I grow closer together and to be thankful for every new day we live. The pain has been hard but somehow every time I help someone through there fight with cancer I find that it was worth all the pain and suffering. Being a Christian may be I understand a little how Jesus felt when he died for all like me.

Good tread Phil

Hondo's picture
Hondo
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Very well said, I enjoyed reading your post.

Take care

Shayenne's picture
Shayenne
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Very well said, I totally agree.

meena1's picture
meena1
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YES

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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neither is cancer...
:-)

Have you read Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom Cancerite? It's very good (IMO) and is a quick read with an interesting relevant story behind it. It could give you a different outlook.
-p

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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I didn't find it depressing at all.
Not budging one bit are you?

Maybe read something very maudlin, then you might find it to be uplifting???
Just a thought.
Enjoy your weekend
-p

SueRelays
Posts: 489
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Ok, I'm actually starting to find you amusing~

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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"If it weren't for cancer, I'd say I have the perfect life. If it weren't for cancer, would I even realize this?"
~me

I thought this a lot in the beginning. I still think of it at times but not like I first did. I imagine it's been said before but I like the thought and it rang true for me.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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I did appreciate my life and thought it was great pre-cancer.
It's just many times greater than it was before. I guess either you feel it or you don't. No right or wrong or anything, it's just how I am and how you are.
Cancer has done a lot for me.
-p
PS: also, maybe I didn't totally realize what I had. That certainly is possible. I've always been grateful what I have and felt I did not take too much for granted. I know one thing that was a big change for me was prioritizing my time. There were times B.C. (before cancer) where if my kids wanted me to see something or do something I might have put them off. Now I will stop what I'm doing and enjoy the moment with them. Work can most always wait, sometimes you don't get that extra time with your kids and I don't only mean dying from cancer. I mean that any one of us can leave our homes on any given day and not make it back there. I know it's given me a better understanding of my own mortality. That's very important to me.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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I think it's one of those inexplicable things. Maybe it's like having faith in God. I am agnostic on a good day and atheist the rest of the time. I do not understand how someone can really believe in God like how most religions want us to believe it yet millions and millions of people believe in something they can not see or fully understand. You either got it, or you don't.

I do not think that fighting it and looking for cures have anything to do with this. We are all going to die so looking at things how you just stated you can just think "why bother being born if you're just going to die"? I think we can find out a lot about ourselves in times like this. Generally I am an optimistic person, maybe that has something to do with how I approach this. I also know that I have basically 2 options. Accept it, live with it and make the most of it or feel like life is screwing me and wait for things to get worse and die and not enjoy the time I have left.

Life's not fair, cancer is a big reminder of that. I certainly feel there are people who are more "deserving" of getting cancer than I was. There are some real nasty SOB's out there who are in good health, why don't they get cancer? Like I said, life's not fair but that's life.

OK, World Cup soccer final match is on.
Gotta go

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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I FINALLY just got around to watching the movie Avatar. Very powerful. It reminded me a lot of Native American and their spirituality. That makes sense to me, the other stuff does not. But to each their own.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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They do believe in The Great Spirit. It is described much differently than what I've read about the Christian God. The early white settlers certainly did not see any similarity with their God and the Indian's Great Spirit. The idea of a unifying life force is an idea that makes sense to me. I believe there is a common life force in all of us. Maybe I find their way more appealing because it talks about being in harmony with nature more than he majority of religious texts I've seen.
One page I referenced said this:
"The Native American is a spiritual being with a deep rooted faith in a "higher power" who is the creator of all things. Called the Great Spirit, Grandfather, and tribal names such as Wakan Tanka by the Sioux, the Indian has always honored the ultimate power of their supreme being.

They believed in an order to things and taught their children from birth to follow the beliefs of their ancestors. When the white race overtook the land they also attempted to convert the Native Americans to their own religious views. This was met with great resistance from the People and they held tightly to their faith in the Great Spirit. Ceremonies were banned, religious artifacts were burned and the People were forbidden to worship in the ways of their ancestors but still they cried out to the only god they'd ever known.

I often wonder what will happen when we stand before our creator and discover that the "God" of the whites and "The Great Spirit" are one and the same. Who will explain what was done to His red children in His name?

From Wakan Tanka, The Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things---the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals---and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred, and were brought together by the same Great Mystery.

Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky, and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them. And so close did some of the Lakotas come to their feathered and furred friends that in true brotherhood they spoke a common tongue."

There seems to be more respect for all life in the Native American way of thinking to me.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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If you are not familiar with Joseph Campbell, you might find him interesting. He did a series with Bill Moyers on PBS that is out on DVD and in paperback book called "The Power of Myth" that discusses many of the parallels between faiths. It's a good read IMO.

I've known for a long time that the Indians were not all peace loving people. I believe that it is human nature to kill needlessly and to want what is not theirs. That's just who we are. Maybe there is a parallel with most of the regular people who just believe in live and let live and the regular people of other races and cultures who feel the same way. It's the ones who get into power that mostly seem to want what others have. The idea of sharing only goes so far. Mankind has been doing this since day one. OK, maybe day two. Your fire goes out so you steal the next guys. It's so easy a cave man can do it!

That's a great undertaking you are doing with reading the bible. I have never read it all. I'm waiting for the 3D movie to come out
;-)
-phil

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
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I've known that all tribes weren't peaceful. I have a book written by an ancestor who recorded an attack on our family (not famous, just wanted to record things before the person it happened to died). I've read other stories about a tribe that was feared by other tribes because they were cannibals.

What causes tribes to be so different? Is it the genes they inherit or was it learned?

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
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Our book didn't have a name as novels do. It is mostly who married who and if known what they died of and their children. In the beginning is a few stories of the family of interest. It takes that line back to where we came from in the 'old' country. I believe at the time of the attack they were living in Pennsylvania. It's been a long time since I've read it.

It is only one line of many that makes us who we are.

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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I suppose that the Indians were very different physically just as African/Americans are, Europeans are, Asians are and so on....

One thing that is common with EVERYONE is the desire to have what other people have. Also, I think there are differences with what one tribe believes and what another one believes so that causes friction. It's really the same with all peoples. There are conflicts that seem to arise either from a difference in beliefs or that one group has something that another group wants and they just use force to take it.

Things have not changed much over time have they...

Marcia527's picture
Marcia527
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I found this joke online and, hee hee, am sharing.

A vulture boards a plane, carrying two dead possums. The attendant looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger."

I can't help myself!!!!

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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Corny but I liked it!

Balentine's picture
Balentine
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I believe God can work through anything...good or bad....to bring about His purpose. Cancer has made me more humble, empathetic, compassionate. It stopped me in my tracks...my tracks of just going about my own life loving it and enjoying myself and never giving any thought to those around me that are in need. Sure I helped out people I ran into, but the empathy...of actually feeling their pain and living in their shoes was absent. God is working in us a greater purpose and end result...to get us to where He wants us to be and live out His purpose in our lives.
Lorrie

Edward W
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I think it is phenominal that Native Americans knew of a "Great Spirit" even before the first Europeans got here

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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I'm certainly no theologian but from what I do know so many cultures dating back thousands of years (pre-Christianity) believed in a "Great Spirit" or some "Higher Power". It's been a theme throughout mankind, I think it's something we need. People like to have reasons for why we are here and things like that.
Maybe (just maybe) they are all talking about the same thing. I think the Native American's Great Spirit was a more forgiving Spirit with fewer rules than the European's version.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
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I get your point, I guess, but you are missing a lot. To begin with, even the Chrisian tradition I think you refer to with your "European' mention is actually not European at all. Christianity and its precedents begin in the deserts of the Middle East. We are talking about Arabs and Jews and those who preceded them. While white people, especially, in America, think it is their religion, Christianity was actually born in the Middle East among people of different colors and languages, whether we like it or not. We may not like them on our airplanes, but they established our religion :).

It is simplistic to compare Native American religion to European, if your intent is to slam Christianity (and you know, Phil, where I stand on this one).

Of more glaring omission is the absence of Oriental religioun, which is as old as just about anything you can think of and probably influenced all others, especially given the notion that it was migration of Orientals to North America that established viable populations in this land.

In addition, while Native Americans may have believed in a "Great Spirit" (at least on television), they were pantheistic: they, for the most part, believed that there were gods (or spirits) in everything. As far as I know, and chenheart can correct me on this if I am wrong, they did not celebrate one god but many, on many different days, in many different ways.

But enough ranting from me :)

Take care,

Joe

winsomebulldog's picture
winsomebulldog
Posts: 114
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I've said this exact thing more than once, and long before I myself was diagnosed with breast cancer. I lost a sister to lung cancer. She was diagnosed at Stage IV with secondary tumors in one leg and her brain. I then lost my mother-in-law, who was my best friend, to brain cancer. She was diagnosed with a grade IV tumor. My sister's cancer was my first "up close and personal" encounter with the disease. I have often called it evil since. I think it is one of the most horrible things that anyone can encounter, whether as a patient or as a loved one as a patient.

However, I completely understand the entire concept of looking for and recognizing the "good" that has come from it. What comes to mind is the Tim McGraw song, "Live Like You Were Dying."

My mother died unexpectedly when I was 17. She was just there, and then gone with no warning at all. That was the life experience that taught me to live each day as though it might be the last. Honestly, there have still been times when I got... complacent, just going through the motions I suppose. But I have always made it a point to let the people I love know it. Losing my father (non cancer), sister, and mother-in-law on reinforced that habit.

So, now that I am the patient, I cannot specifically think of something in my life that I think I could give cancer credit for helping me understand. I know that so many others out there could not say the same, though. The whole point of McGraw's song is a former patient telling someone else that he hoped they got the chance to live like they were dying. No one would wish cancer on anyone. No one would wish the self-revelations many cancer patients come to on anyone else either, if they only way they could get there was by having cancer as well. But while I would never have wished anyone would endure the grief I have known in my life, I often wish others could learn the lessons I have learned. Just like a parent who tells their child not to touch something hot. We so desperately want others to benefit from what we already know. We want to spare our child the pain of being burned because we already KNOW it will happen if they touch the stove or whatever. But ultimately, the vast majority of the time, that child does not fully learn that lesson until they put their hand or finger on the stove and experience the pain first hand. It's the same way with the way we live our lives and the appreciation we have for that life and the people & things we love.

Most people won't appreciate it fully until they're confronted with the reality of losing it. I think Cancerite may have been one of the rare ones who already knew what really mattered in life. I just wish, for her, that she could cease mourning for what is gone (and honestly isn't ever coming back) and live her "new normal" life with the same appreciation and zeal. I guess I spend a fair amount of time recognizing how much worse it could be for me. Yes, I have breast cancer. At the moment, it isn't life threatening. We caught it early and my prognosis is good. But, I will spend the rest of my life wondering if it will come back. Still, it could be worse. I'm not dead. I'm not dying. The fact is (as I think Phil pointed out earlier) I could be on my way to the grocery store and get hit by a truck and find myself paralyzed or with the kind of brain damage that would make living outside a facility impossible. It happens. To me, the cancer is no different that that. It is what it is. I will carry it with me for the rest of my life, whether that's a week, a few months, or fifty years.

Life itself is a gift. Every single day is a present. To let cancer - or anything else - turn us into someone who does not appreciate that gift is to let the disease win. I will NOT do that! It is evil, but I know that it can open a person's eyes as well. Too few people life their lives to the fullest. Some need cancer or another equally difficult trial to help them do so. We aren't all like that, but I think most of us are.

I hope I don't offend anyone. It certainly isn't my intention. I have considered myself blessed to find this site. It wasn't here when my sister died, and not like this when I lost my mother-in-law either. Having others who have been through or are going through the same things I am is a true blessing. I am thankful that I have this resource. And while I would never wish this on anyone, I am grateful for those of you who have walked the road ahead of me.

Blessings to everyone,

Jenn

PS: sorry I was so long-winded! :)

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
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This is a tough topic to get across for me because it seems easy to sound like I took everything for granted or didn't give a $hit about things before cancer which is so far from the truth. I always appreciated everything that I've had. Maybe it has made how I prioritize my time change where before cancer I might have had a different set of priorities and worried about things that in the scope of the bigger picture are really just not that important. So what if such and such a thing does not get done today. Other people may freak out and I might have before but now I don't. I've always been very thankful for my family and friends though and also that I have all of my marbles. I don't see cancer as good or as evil. It's not capable of having those qualities that are unique to people. It's like a lion that kills a person, the lion isn't evil, it's just being a lion. That is something we project on to it. It is what it is and it is what we make of it. It's like the saying that no one can take advantage of you unless you let them. So to me cancer can't be evil unless I give it the power to be so. It has been an eye opening event in my life though and not all of it has been bad.
Again, thanks for your response

sal314
Posts: 633
Joined: Jul 2010

"new eyes". Was having cancer fun? NO! No one wants to hear those awful words "you have cancer" (especially at 35)! BUT...going through what I did, it gave me an entirely different perspective of things. I am so thankful for the small stuff in ways I never was before. I take time to "smell the roses" and don't sweat the small stuff anymore. I've learned that I am a much stronger person than I ever thought I was. And because of my cancer my faith in Christ has grown.

I've also met some incredible people along the way. Some that I would have never have met had the cancer journey not brought us together. I've also learned about love and loss on the deepest of levels. I wouldn't be were I am had I not had to endure the journey of cancer. It has taught me so much and for that I'm grateful:)

Sally

chenheart's picture
chenheart
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Joined: Apr 2003

I am by no means one of those who thinks of cancer as a "gift"~ in no way! Were it a gift to me, I could re-gift it, or value it as a prized posession, or at least be thankful that someone thought of me when they gave it to me. None of the above is true!

I am also not bitter about the diagnosis. To what purpose? My mantra is "Be Stronger Than, Not Angry At", and that has stood me in good stead as I maneuver my way through this journey.

Of course I could wax poetic and say that if not for cancer, I wouldn't have met so many of the amazing Kindred Spirits here on CSN. And though that may indeed be true, I also think I would never have missed what/who I didn't know! I lived, loved, laughed, for YEARS never knowing anything about CSN, and trust me, I was fine! I already loved clouds, sunsets, a good political argument, books, fine wine, laughter, my family and friends! I didn't "need" cancer to make that clear to me!

I am married to a Tribal elder from one of the central coast California Native American tribes. We moved from the reservation while I was in treatment, and only live 1/8 of a mile from the reservation now. My husband is very active in the preserving of tradition, language and ways of worship of his people, and I have been included in many of the rituals. Tomorrow, for example, we are attending a Bear Ceremony~ an incredibly powerful healing ceremony which is only held once a year. Chosen spiritual men wear actual bear-skin, including the heads, and those in need of healing, be it physical or spititual, for the individual, for someone else, are invited to stand near or touch the "bears" as they
dance around a bonfire. It will no doubt be a powerful night, as I am now fighting a recurrance after an almost 8 year remission form BC. Still, being able to touch one of the Bears does not sound like a gift either, thankful as I am that I can!

I am not happy that I think more about my mortality, I am not happy when I get "the look" when asked how I am, I truly dispise the fear in the eyes of my family. I had no fences to mend... those who I love already knew I did, and so yes, I can think of no GOOD that having cancer has brought me. I guess that makes it BAD! :-)

Hugs,
Chen♥

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Rationally speaking (I know, I know, in a board devoted to spirituality there is little room for rationality), cancer is neither good nor bad.

It is.

As ALL of the people who responded to this post have illustrated, how we deal with cancer determines cancer's impact on us, for better or for worse. Some of us let it have more than it is genetically designed to have: we let it ruin our lives, destroy our marriages, disrupt our engagement with life, negate our spirituality, our belief (if we had it coming in); or we face our recognition of mortality with a renewed, an invigorated, sense of self, sense of community, sense of commonality, sense of wonder.

It is.

Up to us.

Take care,

Joe

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4667
Joined: May 2005

Well put Joe. I think you summed it up perfectly.

chenheart's picture
chenheart
Posts: 5182
Joined: Apr 2003

Ahhh Joe! I did agree up to a point..except for the entire mortality part. Seriously! I have no sense of wonder about it, or even feel a commonality with the rest of mortal mankind in that regard. I truly couldn't relate to the last part of your sentence which started with the word OR. I do think, even if it simply is,(cancer that is) that for me, it was, and continues to be ALL bad. That badness doesn't consume me, as I previously wrote, it hasn't made me bitter. But it is what it is. BAD. I have tried to come up with what might be a positive in my life these past 8 years as far as having a disease is concerned . I still come up empty handed!
I also believe that because I try so damned hard to get rid of this beast, and celebrate all of our victories over it, be they large or small, that that too proves it is bad to have cancer, and good not to! But that's just me!

Hugs,
Chen♥

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