For a list of survivor stories by cancer type, click the Type of Cancer and follow the link at the bottom of the page.
Art Washes Away the Dust of Everyday Life
by Emily-Kate Niskey
When my breast cancer journey led me to a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction, I knew recovery would be difficult. But I thought to myself, “I can handle it; I have a high threshold for pain. And emotionally, I’ll be fine. No big deal. I wanted new boobs anyway!”
The Fashionista Fights Again
by Jennifer Pellechio-Lukowiak
In April 2007, I was a 38-year-old working mom who had just received a shocking diagnosis of stage II breast cancer. After enduring a lumpectomy and 14 months of chemo, radiation, and adjuvant therapy, my interrupted life was finally getting back on track. As I reached my five-year survival mark, my doctors were starting to use the other C word: cured. But life is full of surprises, extreme highs, and extreme lows, and sometimes they all occur within the same week.
Tips for Coping with Cancer from a 15-Year Survivor
by Jeannine Walston
In 1998 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 24 years old, I knew nothing about cancer. Since then, with two awake brain surgeries and many other cancer therapies, my experiences have cultivated insights for optimal survivorship. Through my health and healing journey, I’ve garnered essential wisdom to thrive, and gained knowledge from extensive cancer-related professional work. My personal and professional work has even helped thousands of other cancer survivors along the way.
by Eva Grayzel
When I returned home from the hospital, my children, seven-year-old Jeremy and five-year-old Elena, could barely look at me. I understood. I could hardly look at myself, even though I kept my sutures covered with scarves and bandages. My children shied away from my touch. How could I blame them? I couldn’t bring myself to touch my own wounds.
Journaling Cancer in Words and Images
by Harriet Claire Wadeson, PhD, LCSW, ATR-BC, HLM
Cancer imposed its own special kind of helplessness as I was cut open and parts were either removed or irradiated and blasted with chemicals that destroyed cells and interfered with my physiological functioning. People turn to a number of outlets under this kind of duress – religion, meditation, music. For me, I needed to do something. Writing and making art were my saviors in times of trouble or pain in the past, so it was only natural for me to turn to them to help me through cancer.
Living with Incontinence after Prostate Surgery
by Rick Redner, MSW, with Brenda Redner, RN
The experience with urinary incontinence begins after a much-anticipated event – the day your catheter is removed. I was delighted to be free from my catheter. For a brief period, it was a happy day.My celebratory mood would last a few brief hours before I experienced an emotional nosedive. I was totally unprepared to deal with my loss of urinary control.
by Barbara Delinsky
Loss of control is a major issue for those with breast cancer. It starts early on, when a problem is first suspected, and suddenly we’re taken over by fear, not to mention mammography machines, localization needles, hospital release forms, and biopsies. Then a positive diagnosis comes, and we’re really hit for a loop. We’re swamped by new information, confused by choices, intimidated by sterile rooms. We worry enough to lose sleep; we’re hurting from surgery, weak from anesthesia, and stressed over family demands; and we are not looking forward to the treatment ahead. There’s this big C looming over us, pressing us under its weight, threatening to dominate our daily lives for the next however-long.
The Legend of Big Billy
by Craig Harrison
It was late in the winter of 2010, and the nights were long and dark. I lay in bed motionless hour after hour, listening to the wall clock mock me with its relentless chiming that marked each passage of time – a haunting melody that became the subtle, audible reminder of yet another sleepless 60 minutes I would never get back.