National Forgiveness Day – 4 Ways These Fighters Forgave Cancer
When a cancer diagnosis strikes, a difficult and damaging time begins in the patient’s life. Cancer is never convenient and can uproot families and future plans quickly. Cancer is the enemy and is often associated with a multitude of negative emotions. The process of fighting cancer, from the time of diagnosis through treatment and recovery, can be long and exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Mesothelioma treatment, for example, may require chemotherapy as well as surgery. The disease becomes part of the patient and, if the journey is long enough, it isn’t healthy to harbor hateful, negative feelings toward this new part of his or her life.
But how can you come to accept and even forgive such an unforgiving illness? In honor of National Forgiveness Day, we asked a few cancer survivors and current cancer patients with different types of cancer about how they came to forgive their cancer and found out the power of a simple change in attitude.
Build Something from Your Cancer – Like a Brand!
“Post cancer, I became an entrepreneur. The treatments threw me into menopause with drenching night sweats. I was familiar with wicking clothes for the slopes and gym, but I could not find anything soft and comfortable for sleeping. So, I started my own company. My company makes moisture-wicking sleepwear for women. Now, in our 7th year we have helped thousands of women, solving their problem of being too hot. I can forgive my cancer for leading me to this career journey.” – Haralee Weintraub, CEO Haralee.com
“At the age of 40, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I made the decision about six weeks after my surgery that regardless of how long I had to live, I was going to embrace my cancer. I went on to start a company called The Cancer Club, which offers humorous and helpful products for people with cancer. I was able to forgive my cancer because it has always been a gift for me. I started doing things I never knew I had inside of me: writing books, traveling the world, starting my own company.” – Christine Clifford, CEO/President of The Cancer Club
Embrace Cancer and What It Can Do for You and Others
“I started to forgive cancer right after diagnosis. I began a blog the day of diagnosis to help process the emotions of the journey. I get hundreds of emails and posts from women who need encouragement. Encouraging them while on my own road helped give me strength through a mastectomy, five months of chemo and radiation. Embracing cancer helps me forgive it.” – Denise McCroskey
“Cancer has been the scariest and most beautiful experience of my life. I had always thought I lived life to the fullest. What I gained when I was diagnosed was living in pure freedom. Nothing scares me. I know now that I can do anything. Cancer has also brought me the gift of seeing a profound beauty in others. I have never had so much love and friendship in my life. I have never been so free of fear. The love and freedom it has brought into my life exceeds what I’ve been through.” – Allison W. Gryphon, breast cancer
Forgive Yourself First
“There seems to be a bias when you are diagnosed with cancer, there is a flaw in your system somehow. The perception is that if you really take care of yourself in mind, body and spirit, you may escape a cancer diagnosis and any other bad karma. Recognizing that there are no guarantees in life and that cancer can strike at any time, affecting any one of us, is sort of the armor we keep handy should we become one of the unlucky ones affected by a cancer diagnosis. Knowing that millions of people are diagnosed with some form of cancer everyday can help in processing the reality. I learned to forgive my situation when I stopped pushing against the thought of having cancer and learned to breathe through this experience.” – Cyndi Young Arruda, Race Chair, 2014 Komen South Florida Race for the Cure
Think of What Cancer Can Give You, Not Just What It Takes Away
“What can be gained from the illness is remarkable. For me, things started to get much clearer in terms of how and with whom I wanted to spend time and share experiences. It was an unexpected gift in an otherwise uncertain time. Another profound gift during my illness was the knowledge that there were those who cared and wanted to help. Cancer restored my faith in people! I was able to forgive cancer easily because of what I gained from the illness: clarity, a deeper appreciation of everything, and restored faith that people are genuinely kind, compassionate, and supportive.” – Sonja L. Faulkner, Ph.D
“It was when I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a second time that I realized an important aspect of this illness. My cancer gave me a depth of empathy I could not have obtained without the highs and lows of the rollercoaster ride of illness. It motivated me to help other patients move beyond perpetual patients to “thrivers.” The silver lining was validation from my dreams that in our darkest hour we are never alone.” – Kathleen O’Keefe Kanavos