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Lessons from Cancer

by Pamela K. Steele

Author of Article photo

The last two and a half years have been a bit rough. I’ve said goodbye to my mother and my father, discovered my own early stage ovarian cancer, and supported my brother through his battle with stage IV prostate cancer. While these experiences and realities have led to a great deal of grief and uncertainty, they’ve also given me the opportunity to reflect, reprioritize, and rejuvenate.

The lessons I’ve learned may seem obvious and quite simple to many. But they often go unlearned until a person experiences extensive pain and is forced to stop, look, and listen. For me, these lessons serve as profound reminders of what is truly important.

I’ve Learned …

  • That there are no guarantees. The present is really all there is. I need to make each moment count.
  • To cherish the love I have in my life, to risk, to be vulnerable, and to be soft and yielding.
  • To always take time to acknowledge my blessings – even in the middle of trying circumstances.
  • To remind myself to demonstrate compassion and patience in everything I do and say.
  • That a gentle and calm approach to decision-making is more effective than one that is frantic or rushed. I should be clear on what is urgent versus what is important.
  • To focus on my health. I’m only in this body this time around. I must take good care of it.
  • To always celebrate the humor and joy that’s in my life.
  • That perspective is always mine to choose.
  • To keep learning. It’s important to continue to enrich my life.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Pamela Steele is an ovarian cancer survivor living in Seattle, WA.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, May/June 2009.