Survivors

For a list of survivor stories by cancer type, click the Type of Cancer and follow the link at the bottom of the page.

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The Road From Grief to Grace

by Nicole Zechella

One week after my 30th birthday, I was told I had a large melanoma in the center of my back. The dermatologist informed me that I had an appointment for that afternoon with a surgeon to discuss the next step. My denial started as soon as I hung up the phone. Like in the movie of the week, I found myself in front of a very impressive, degreed doctor nodding on autopilot as he told me directly, clearly, quietly, “Nicole, you have cancer.”

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Time to Fly Away

by Rob Wahrhaftig

My eight-year-old nephew Steve often asks me, “Did you get out of cancer yet?” I tell him that you don't exactly “get out” of cancer, that it's not like being in a jail. A jail is where you are put when you have done something wrong, and people with cancer have not done anything wrong. No, having cancer is more like being stuck in a barrel.

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Waiting All of My Life

by Theodore R. Westfall

The nagging pain had been distracting me for over a week. Laura, sitting next to me, had been distracting me much longer. When we arrived back to my apartment, I winced as the nagging pain worsened. Laura urged me to see a doctor as soon as possible. A colonoscopy confirmed that a large polyp had penetrated the intestinal wall. I learned that it had been there for possibly ten years. I was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer.

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What Kind of Survivor Do I Want to Be?

by Louise Shelby

When I reached adulthood after surviving childhood cancer, I had to deal with many of the long-term effects of my treatment. There was always another conundrum that couldn’t be solved. At times, it was overwhelming to know that so much was wrong with me. I talked to other survivors who felt the same way. Some were full of anger; others had become mired in the anguish of their cancer situation.

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If You Teach a Man to Fly-Fish …

by Patrick Case

The discussion at our first Reel Recovery “Courageous Conversations” meeting at the Big K Guest Ranch in Elkton, Oregon, started easy enough – our facilitator, Coy, asked each of us to state our full name. That done, we were each asked to share a story about our first fishing experience. Also easy enough … but it didn’t take a particularly bright person to see this was only the prelude to discussions of the real reason we were here: cancer and its impact on our lives.

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Surrendering

by Patricia Bateson

The date October 8, 2003, will be etched in my heart forever, for it was this glorious day that my life would be transformed in miraculous ways. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2003, and I experienced shock, anger, and fear, like many newly diagnosed cancer survivors. Once I grappled with these emotions, I attempted to take control of my life, or at least I thought I did. My goal was to complete my treatments as soon as possible so I could return to my career.

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Why Wait? Live Your Life Now!

by Dawn Sesto

The radioactive tracer substance was injected into my veins. Now I had three hours to wait until the bone scan to see if breast cancer had spread to my bones. As I sat waiting, thinking about the “what ifs,” I was both numb and restless. I’ve been here before; I’m a two and a half year breast cancer survivor.

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Keeping Hope Alive

by Ann Brandt

You cannot battle cancer alone. A vital factor in survival is hope, an ingredient to be shared with others like a treasured gift. When my husband, George, was told that the four large tumors imbedded deep in his brain would take his life within a few weeks, hope seemed far away indeed. There must have been a tiny spark, however, that caused us to take the option of using heavy doses of chemotherapy, which was offered by the treatment team as a last resort effort to save George’s life. The future seemed grim, and the road ahead would be hard.

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