When you first read the headline, you might have thought, “Benefits? What benefits are there to having such a horrible disease?” I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 27 years old. Here are three “benefits” I’ve experienced throughout my cancer journey.
- You find out who your true friends and family are.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, the first people I told were my family members and closest friends. I was incredibly scared of telling others, and even sharing on social media, because some things are meant to be kept private. However, after a few weeks, I gathered up the courage to post on both my Instagram and Facebook pages the new obstacle I was facing. The outpouring of words of encouragement filled my posts by some whom I never thought I would hear from, those who I haven’t spoken to in years. It’s shown me that, in times of need, reaching out for support will be best received by those who are our true friends and family and those you can count on in the long run.
- You’re Given the Chance Take chances.
When I was first faced with the “C” word, I thought death was lurking at my doorstep. However, I was reassured that nothing of the sort would happen, and that I would only need a simple surgery. Well, the “simple surgery” turned into two surgeries and a round of radiation, and I’m not done yet. The benefit of going through so much has helped me put things into perspective. We may not always be given a second chance, or in my case, multiple chances, to be who we want to be and with whom we want to be with. Having cancer has allowed me to take the chance to explore more, do more, and learn more every day. It has opened my eyes to vast opportunities in my field of health communication to which I can incorporate my strengths. Most importantly, the stigma of being a “cancer patient” has given me the chance to become a patient advocate for those who struggle with a terrible disease.
- You discover how strong you truly are.
No one thinks they’re ever going to be diagnosed with cancer at their next physical exam. That was my case, especially with no family history. Yet, throughout the trials it has put me through, I have chosen to remain strong, and that is something I will never let cancer take away from me. In fact, being a patient with cancer has shown me how strong I truly am. I’m realizing that the little things don’t always have to be made into big things, and that I can do whatever I put my mind to. More importantly, it has helped me realize that my disease does not make me a burden. Cancer is something that I have, not something that defines me. To know that I have made it this far and continue to remain resilient is what keeps me going, and I hope to instill that sense of gratitude in the lives of others.
Carly Flumer is a student in Boston University’s Master of Science in Health Communication program. She is passionate in helping others, and looks to use that passion to bring about patient advocacy through her writing and research. She enjoys exercising, crocheting, discovering new books to read and music and podcasts to listen to, and most of all, learning.