14 things cancer taught me

14 things cancer taught me

It’s been 4 years, 3 months and 8 days since I left cancer in my rearview mirror. It’s really crazy to think about how much time has passed…but at the same time, it feels like it all just happened yesterday. A lot of people say cancer is always a part of you…and while that is true on some level, I like to think of it a little differently.

Cancer isn’t part of me. My cancer is gone. And if I have anything to say about it, it is gone forever. But it has shaped me into a person that, quite honestly, I never thought I would be…or more importantly, could be.

Getting diagnosed with cancer in your 20s makes you grow up pretty fast. It forces you to face life in a new way, and as I sit here now, (a very wise 30 year old ;)) I am who I am because of what I learned during that time. Cancer isn’t part of me, but cancer has 100 percent shaped me into the person I am today because of the things I have learned from it. About myself…life…and everything in between. So while I don’t ever plan to see cancer again, I will forever be grateful for what it has taught me.

  1. Cancer taught me that it can always get worse…but it can also get better. And more often than not, it does.
  2. Cancer taught me that no one is invincible…but with the right attitude, you can get pretty damn close.
  3. Cancer taught me that there is no such thing as a bad hair day. If I have hair…it’s a good day.
  4. Cancer taught me what it means to be loved. I mean really loved by someone…through thick or thin.
  5. Cancer taught me that as hard as I try…I am not superwoman. And to this day, every time I go back to the Creticos Cancer Center at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, I get a pit in my stomach the size of Texas.
  6. Cancer taught me that bad days are your choice. You always have the option to change your attitude. And if you can do that, you can do anything.
  7. Cancer taught me to never waste one second. To savor every single moment I can because you never know how many you have left. A sip of wine. Falling asleep to my husband Gary’s not-so-subtle snoring. Taking one extra bite of dessert. Make the ordinary extraordinary because trust me…it is.
  8. Cancer taught me that, in the right pair of shoes…you really can do anything.
  9. Cancer taught me what it means to be strong. And you will never know how strong you are until it’s your only option.
  10. Cancer taught me the definition of fear. And nothing I do in my life or career or anywhere else will ever be scarier than where I’ve already been.
  11. Cancer taught me the definition of happiness. That wanting more and always striving for what’s next will never compare to what you already have. That nothing will ever make me happier than a healthy life with Gary and our dog Goose.
  12. Cancer taught me that tomorrow is an excuse. Anything worth doing is worth doing today.
  13. Cancer taught me that no matter what is taken from you on the outside…it can never change who you are on the inside.
  14. And more than anything else…cancer taught me that life is not a given. Every single bad day is so much better than no day at all. That feeling sorry for myself gets me nowhere. And every single second is a chance for greatness.

So stop waiting for tomorrow. Stop making excuses. And get out there and live! I mean really LIVE! Because this life is what you make of it…so let’s make it unbelievable.

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About the Author

Lauren Truelock
Lauren Truelock

Lauren Truelock is a photographer who lives in Indianapolis with her husband, Gary. She was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26. She and her best friend, Sidne Hirsch - the one who bought her the chemo shoes - run a company called Healing Heels, a line of kick ass shoes for women fighting cancer.