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Surprising Ways a Cancer Diagnosis Can Change Your Life for the Better

Posted by on February 27, 2020 in Health with 0 Comments

Getting diagnosed with cancer, no matter who you are or how old, can be a terrifying experience. No one enjoys being faced with mortality, and depending on the type and stage of cancer, treatments can be brutal and expensive.

Cancer affects our lives in many more ways than just our health. It can force us to reassess other aspects of our life, too, whether that's our relationships, finances, or just the day-to-day. It also has a profound impact on those around us, as friends and family become caregivers and supporters.

If you've been diagnosed with cancer and need additional help and advice, or just someone to talk to, reach out to the cancer support community.

Getting closer

Many people report that a cancer diagnosis has brought them closer to the people they love.

People can become estranged from friends and family members for all kinds of reasons. Life is full of challenges, and sometimes, those challenges take us away from those we love, either just for a short time, or permanently. Family dynamics can be especially difficult, and many people have become strained or non-existent with family members.

The hardship and adversity that comes with a cancer diagnosis can make everything else that once kept you and your family apart seem insignificant, and can actually help to build bridges. Don't hold on to past grudges if an estranged friend or family member reaches out to help. Remind yourself of how much you loved each other in the first place and take the opportunity to reconnect. You're more likely to regret holding on to past arguments than you are making new memories.

Greater appreciation

It's quite common for people diagnosed with or recovering from cancer to report that it makes them more appreciative of the little things in life. People report feeling more appreciative of what they have, the people around them, just being able to get up in the morning and go for a walk, or head to the beach on a sunny day.

It's a common phenomenon for people who have experienced a ‘near-death' experience or been diagnosed with a serious illness to make the decision to feel more gratitude post-recovery. The process of being ill makes us re-evaluate everything we thought we knew about ourselves. Spent too much time at work? Not spent enough time with loved ones? You can still change it.

New motivation

It's common in life to have goals and dreams that get lost in the craziness that everyday life can be. Dreaming of visiting a specific far-flung locale, or taking a long time out of work to do some serious traveling? What about career goals? Do you have a work-related dream that has somehow fallen by the wayside because there simply wasn't time to realize it? Or, something you've always wanted to study, but thought the moment to do so had passed?

Being diagnosed with cancer often serves as a reminder of all the goals we've let slide over the years, and to reconsider the time we have on this earth to achieve those goals. If you have a ‘bucket list,' why not try and tick off a few things? Fulfilling long-held dreams can be one of the most rewarding things we ever do. Don't miss out on your chance to fulfill yours.

Say ‘no.'

For some people, it's tough to say ‘no.' Whether that's to friends and family asking for favors, or a boss who always needs you to work overtime, chaperoning your kids’ school dances, or whatever it is, saying ‘no’ is hard because we worry people will react badly, or that we’re being selfish by doing so.

It may seem odd that surviving serious illness helps us with saying ‘no.' Surely, we'd want to say ‘yes' to absolutely everything after being given another chance at life, but many people say it helps them to curate their lives and do only the things that will make them happy.

A cancer diagnosis also helps us to say ‘no' to the relationships that don't serve us well or make a valuable contribution to our lives. Many of us keep people who are negative, demanding, or just generally a bad influence around for fear of rocking the boat. However, with the support of people who do make a valuable contribution to your life, being diagnosed with cancer can actually give you the strength to walk away from everyone who brings you down. Take the leap! You deserve to be surrounded by people who support and love you.

Supporting others

While most of us will be affected by cancer at some point in our lives (more than 1.7 million Americans were diagnosed in 2019), not all of us will experience it firsthand. Those of us who do and recover are in the incredible position of, if we feel able, being able to support and empathize with those who find themselves in a similar situation.

You may want to join a web forum or support group, or simply share your experiences on social media. Whatever you decide, you may be surprised by how many people you know even tangentially have been through something comparable. Everyone's experience of cancer is unique, but some of the feelings and emotions it stirs up are universal. Being someone to talk to can't only change your life, but change the life of the person you're supporting, too. We can't think of a better way to turn something negative into a positive. After all, we're always stronger together.

Final Thought

Of course, none of these other life changes will take you away from the fact that being diagnosed with cancer is hard on your health – both body and mind. If you've been diagnosed or are in recovery, it's crucial to listen to your body and visit your doctor immediately if anything feels different. Don't push yourself beyond what's comfortable, and take all the support you can get.

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