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Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2004

I just wanted to share some of my thoughts on surviving and even thriving after cancer. As a 6 year survivor of stage 3 rectal cancer (diagnosed at the age of 36),I've had to face this disease and rebuild my confidence, my self-esteem and my spirit for life. The treatemnts, surgeries and side-effects can be so onerous that we can lose our inner-strength. Here are some things that helped me through:

1. Read Lance Armstrong's books. If he can bounce back from stage 4 testicular cancer and win the Tour De France every year, then the least I can do is keep running every day and entering a race or two each summer.

2. Excercise regularly: This does not mean you hae to run marathons or even join a gym...but you can walk, jog, ride a bike, swim, hike or...join a gym. Physical fitness helped me through thhose tough years when you keep wondering if you're going to live to see the next Christmas with our children. I would work out hard enough that I fell asleep at night, feeling good, regardless of my long-term concerns. Buy some good running shies, find a good place to walk (a mall in the winter), jog or hike, and go at it for 20-40 minutes. You WILL feel better, I promise.

3. Stay engaged in life. Coach, volunteer for a social service agency or a church...do naything that keeps your mind off yourself and assists others. Use whatever skills you have to enrich others. It will make the time pass and make your time on this earth more meaningful. We, as cancer survivors, should understand the depths of life...we should help whoever we can. I coach basketball and cross-country, teach religious education to 1st graders, and volunteer speaking to abused women about the criminal justice system (I am a prosecutor).

4. Enjoy life. Have wine with dinner. Have every dinner by candlelight. Cook a special meal on the weekends with your significant other. Go to plays, games and concerts. LIVE!

alihamilton's picture
Posts: 348
Joined: Jan 2004

That is such good advice....it is so easy to become obsessed with illness, even when in remission. With the fear of recurrence, one can get into a rut...just living from one test to the next, which is emotionally draining. I thank you for your thoughts.

As a 6 year survivor, you are an inspiration to all of us, patients and caregivers alike!

kerry's picture
Posts: 1317
Joined: Jan 2003

What a great plan! I was just diagnosed with recurrent metastatic disease and I am determined to fight it harder than ever this time.

I have printed off your advice and taped it above my computer in the office - good words to live by so we can truly live!

Thanks. It could not have been better said.

Wishing you a Blessed holiday season.


Anonymous user (not verified)

Runner, this is such good advice. It is so easy to loose sight of what living life is all about after a cancer diagnosis...including us caregivers. I find myself always waiting for the other shoe to drop and and fought very hard not to keep sitting on the edge of my chair. They say as more time passes between the date of original diagnosis and remaining NED that this gets easier to do. It does but staying active and busy has helped me tremendously.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


taunya's picture
Posts: 392
Joined: Jul 2002

Great Advice!
I started going to the Y. I was going every day then 5 times a week , then 4 and the past 2 weeks I have only made it twice a week and I feel it. I feel soooooo much better when I exercise at least 4 times a week. It makes my family feel better too. They see me living a healthy lifestyle and they don't feel the fear as much. Now if I could just make the time! I am going tonight. Love to you all.

Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2004

Taunya, Good for you! I agree that when you, as a survivor, lead a healthy lifestyle, it makes everyone feel better. My only problem is that now cancer free for almost 6 years, my wife won't keep giving me quite as much leeway for the workouts as I once had!! In any event, working our bodies and regaining confidence in them is so important. I hated my body after being diagnosed with cancer. I was repulsed by myself and how I looked after surgery and treatemnt, scars and all. Well, 6years later the scars have faded, even the invisible ones in my mind, and working out has made me feel good about myself again. So get to the Y whenever you can...and enjoy yourself whenever and however you can.

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

RunnerZ -

One word: BULLSEYE

You definitely hit the mark.


- SpongeBob

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

What good advice. It is about living and not JUST surviving. Thanks for sharing. Judy

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Thanks Runner. I guess we all lose the plot at times and then we find somehow we can bounce back. This board has a lot to do with that and I am sure it has had a large effect on my life since dx. I am only now able to get back to some normality. My normal life was being active--very active. But there are other ways to heal and you express them with much conviction. One of the ways I do that is to return to my clinic to talk/support other cancer patients during their chemo. I was once asked, "doesn't that upset me?"
I answered, "no"---because I know a lot of people helped me overcome my fears, particularly of chemo and the what's? if's? etc.
Cancer changes all our lives and no matter how hard things get we all need to hear of the successes and the means to achieve it--your comments help that process along mate.
Your friends in OZ, kanga n Jen

Posts: 186
Joined: Nov 2004

Hi Runner...Great thoughts!!! I'll print your post and give it to my wife. She was diagnosed with stage 4 back in October. She was pretty active before all this, and she's talking about going back to Jazzersize in a couple weeks. This will definitely encourage her.

I agree with you 110%...and I'd extend your advice to all caregivers, too. The stress and frustration is compounded daily without some sort of physical exercise to just disperse it from the achy old body.

A friend just gave me a copy of Lance Armstrong's book with the comments you make. I'll read it for sure.

And to all the semi-colons....thanks for bein' around. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone of you. I try to read the postings every few days (not enough hours in my days yet to read them daily and respond in a reasonable time frame) You're an incredible group of fine human beings.


Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1080
Joined: Aug 2003

Thanks for your post. As a survivor of only 18 months since my cancer removal it is nice to see that people do survive long term. i can't wait to say that i am seven years cancer free. I also had stage 3.

Kanort's picture
Posts: 1275
Joined: Jan 2004

Thanks, Runner. Another third stager here who is four months post chemo. I have never read any of Lance's books but will put that at the top of my New Year resolutions!



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