A cancer diagnosis can be life changing, but it doesn’t have to change your life.
Cancer comes in many types and stages, each with its own prognosis unique to the individual. But the one thing all cancer patients share is the will to fight.
Courage knows no bounds, and most cancer survivors will tell you that the key is staying positive.
Some battles will be tougher than others, but you should never give up. You should never give in. If you give up the things you enjoy about life, you let the cancer win.
Every cancer survivor story is inspiring in its own way, but some show that even against the greatest of odds, anything is possible.
Take some examples of survivors of mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer that forms on the protective tissues of the lungs and abdomen. Mesothelioma is rare, with an estimated 3,000 cases diagnosed in the U.S. annually, and the cancer is very aggressive. Because of a latency period of 20 to 50 years and early symptoms that mirror less serious conditions, mesothelioma is often diagnosed in the late cancer stages when prognosis is generally poor.
But there are numerous stories of strong men and women who pushed the limits and beat the odds. These some of these people have lived from several years up to 10 years or more past their prognoses.
Registered nurse Beth Mixon is a 16-year survivor of peritoneal mesothelioma, which develops on the lining of the abdomen. She credits integrative medicine and thinking “outside the box” as reasons for her survival.
Fellow peritoneal survivor Joyce Montgomery was told six years ago she had only 10 months to live. She credits her strong faith as a reason for living far beyond her expected prognosis.
Lifelong motorcycle enthusiast Al Moylan didn’t let his pleural mesothelioma diagnosis stop him from doing what he loves. The 80-year-old recently joined family and friends for a 120-mile back roads ride to Curtis’ All American Barbecue in Putney, Vermont.
When he’s not riding his Harley-Davidson, Moylan stays active even though the cancer and treatments have slowed his pace considerably.
For Ellis Gill, who was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in the fall of 2014, playing a round of golf was exhausting, yet invigorating. Gill returned to his favorite golf club earlier this year after recovering from chemotherapy and anemia that left him barely able to walk.
Other than their diagnoses, these men and women share another commonality: A refusal to give up on life or hope. Despite fatigue from chemotherapy or complications from surgery, they awake each day with a sense of purpose instead of doom.
They understand that without hope, life has no meaning.
A cancer diagnosis, especially an aggressive type such as mesothelioma, can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to be a death sentence. A positive outlook can do wonders when combined with a variety of treatments.
Cancer shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you love. If anything, it should inspire you to fight to continue your way of life, or even accomplish a “bucket list.”
So go on that dream trip. Take that adventure you’ve always talked about. Or simply use your diagnosis to motivate you to get back on a motorcycle or the golf course.
Read more stories of hope and resilience on The Mesothelioma Center’s Wall of Hope