Surviving Death

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25:  Number 10 Downi...

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I want to tell you a story.  My career choice for many years was bedside nursing in Oncology.  When I became an Oncology patient myself, I left bedside nursing.  I chose other paths to pursue, but I still remained true to the pink cause by walking through pink doorways every year and celebrating life.

As even more time passed I grew away from breast cancer even more.  My life choices took me to enchanting places.  I lived on an island for years, then I moved to Costa Rica.  I had the water and sunshine and then was fortunate enough to throw in mountain walks daily through trees laden with orchid plants, tropical birds, and monkeys.

When I changed directions again I headed north and landed in the city I love most, Chicago, Illinois.  It was here that my life returned to breast cancer in small doses.  I went back to work in medical sales but it gave me a chance to still work with patients and I was happy.  I met and married my incredible husband who cries that he wasn’t there for me when I was diagnosed.

Even though I was back in cancer so to speak, I stayed on the sidelines, I was on the fringe of it all. Slowly that all began to change, and I call it my epiphany into thriving in life.  Many of you will know what I mean when I write that after you have been through something life threatening,  you can feel stronger than ever, more invincible, more courageous, but it takes time to get there.

I am not saying that I don’t get scared or that I feel immortal but I do take more chances because when you have laughed in the face of fear you are braver.

Once I began to thrive my life took off in a direction of successful endeavors.  We all have heard people like Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robinson, Rhonda Byrne and more tell us that our feet will remain frozen in the ground if our hearts are filled with anger, fear, ugliness, meanness, victimization, etc.  They are right. I can give testimony to that.

Fast forward to this past year when as good fortune would have it, I won a contest that brought even more breast cancer into my life.   I add new friends on Facebook whose lives have been touched by breast cancer constantly.  I have come full circle.  Once upon a time I was comforting patients who would not leave the hospital.  Now I sit in front of the computer hoping I am some comfort to friends who one day soon will not comment back to their friends.

What has changed in 35 years for me?  Women are living longer with their Stage 3 and Stage 4 diagnosis.  Many of them embrace their diagnosis and they do thrive.  Many do not.  Instead of physically keeping someone comfortable, I now extend emotional comfort.

What has not changed in 35 years for me?  The fact that I feel like I have been kicked in the gut every time I learn that a friend only has weeks to live.

What have I learned from all of this stuns me.  My friends who are leaving this earth are not afraid and I finally understand this.  When I have applauded their decisions I have had people think I was wrong because selfishly many people don’t want to lose their friends.  The most important thing I have learned is that as I wrote above when you stare fear in the eyes and move past it you do get brave.  Is it a false bravado?  I don’t think so.  I get it now that there comes a time when  fear returns and that fear transcends into acceptance, and finally there is peace.  We, who are letting go of our friends, are terrified to lose them, are afraid for them, even when they tell us they are ready.

It is very hard to live through letting someone go, but I know I am a much better person for ever having them in my life.

Full circle, I get that now, I am right where I was always supposed to be.


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  • Marti says:

    I personally hate the term survivor. It is way too passive. We survive a car accident. We fight breast cancer like warriors and win. We fight rotten circumstances and overcome, like warriors.

    Me? I’m a warrior and fighter in this life, but never passive, never a survivor.

    • admin says:

      The name of this blog came from a birthday card, a Maxine card about at my age I have survived damn near everything – and the blog is years old,too old and too followed to change the name. Survivor was the term we used then. Now I use thriver – I am a thriver, and as my tag line reads we all survive something……I agree with you I do…..but you will never see me use the word “hate” and you won’t see me use fighting words either because I feel if I say I have to fight something then I am inviting it to fight back – so we all have our opinions on how we choose our words. What I am not and never will be is a victim either – I lived through breast cancer I have never been a victim, and I am a thriver. I respect your opinion, and I hope you respect mine.

  • Beautifully written Carole; absolutely beautiful x

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