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Cancer: Only a Part of Who I Am

by Denise Cooper

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I am 53 years old, and I have stage IV breast cancer. Do I let this fact define me as a person? Should I?

Absolutely not! I have a choice to make each day. Do I wake up with a negative, feel-sorry-for-myself attitude? Or do I face the day with an uplifting outlook so that I can be an inspiration to someone else and turn this negative diagnosis into something positive? I al­ways try to go with the second option.

Does this mean that I never let things get to me? Certainly not! But I try to focus on the big picture instead of dwelling on the negative stuff.

Cancer is just a part of who I am, not my entire being. Of course I’m disappointed that I am dealing with cancer during what should be my prime years. But a powerful choice lies before me – either I go through this kicking and screaming and feeling sorry for myself, or I go with the flow and accept that I can’t change what happened to me but I can control how I react to it.

I truly believe that a positive attitude has healing properties.

I may not understand why I got cancer, but that doesn’t mean I have to let this disease get me down or allow it to ruin my life. Negativity can eat us up if we let it.

I believe that being positive not only helps our souls but also helps us on a cellular level. If our emotional and psychological responses can negatively affect our overall health, then why can’t these same emotions have a positive influence as well? I truly believe in my heart that a positive attitude has healing properties.

We all have the same choice to make each day. Why not try to look at cancer as a challenge, as something that can make you stronger? Allow yourself to be an inspiration to someone else along your path – someone who may be hurting and may need you to help see them through their own can­cer journey. If I can be someone who, through my positive outlook, can help a fellow survivor through cancer, I consider it an honor and a blessing to do so. Be that blessing to someone else today, and see how it can brighten your own life!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Denise Cooper is a stage IV breast cancer survivor and a licensed practical nurse who has worked in long-term care for almost 33 years. She has successfully finished chemo­therapy treatment, and she is now halfway through her radiation treatments. Denise lives in Largo, FL, and is in the process of forming a cancer support group there.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, May/June 2013.