10 Surprising Benefits of Surviving My Life-Threatening Illnesses


Sometimes it takes a small event to remind me of how much I have really achieved in my life (aka being alive!). I’ve been in and out of hospitals since I was 5 years old, when I was first diagnosed with bone cancer. My cancer came back at age 13. Chemo and radiation did a number on my body and mind, with leg amputation, kidney failure and a whole host of life-threatening situations along the way.

I never valued what I’ve been through much. I just wanted to get back to life — that is, until a self-absorbed person I met diminished how much work it took for me to stay alive, stay positive, become a yoga teacher, go to graduate school and even take a walk around the block. I decided to honor the gifts of my life for myself by writing about them. If you’ve experienced something similar, I hope this list will tap into your own gratitude meter to raise it up a bit.

1. I’m free. I really don’t care what other people think about me because I understand that life is precious, so you might as well be yourself through and through.

2. I speak with hope. I don’t want to talk about my suffering too much because I don’t want to waste a minute of this precious life.

3. My compassion for others is through the roof.

4. I know a lot — a lot about medicine, bodies, pain management, inventive ways to get through the day, maneuvering with crutches, wheelchairs, tight spaces, stairs, health, nutrition, alternative medicine, wellness, spirituality and how to choose my own happiness.

5. I’m more intuitive. I have “feelings” about things and people.

6. I’m at peace. I’m no longer afraid of death because I’ve got that one covered. Been there, done that.

7. My senses are heightened. I can smell someone full of BS from a thousand miles away.

8. I know how to stand up for myself. If someone tries to put me down or squeeze the life out of me, I know what to do. I’ve already had the life squeezed out of me so many times I can’t even count. Now I know how to fight, and I know how to win.

9. I care. I’m a give-back kind of person, someone who truly values life, who doesn’t want, but needs to contribute meaningfully to the world.

10. I’m beautiful — and so are you. We’ve earned our right to shine.Those scars aren’t for nothin’, honey.

Follow this journey on Fierce Joy.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

TOPICS
, , Contributor list
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Bone Cancer

Ryan Gosling Finds the Perfect Way to Honor Young Man Who Died From Cancer

Ryan McHenry, a Scottish filmmaker best known as the creator of the Vine (short video clip) series called “Ryan Gosling Won’t Eat His Cereal,” died of bone cancer on Sunday, May 3, according to Time. He was 27. In the Vines, compiled into one YouTube video below, McHenry made it appear that Ryan Gosling was [...]

This Professional Dancer's Cancer Story Is Not Just Another Cancer Story

“How do you find the courage to move on when your life is spinning out of control?” professional dancer Brianna Mercado asks the audience in her TEDxBend Talk below. “To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that out.” The 22-year-old bone cancer survivor gives a powerful 14-minute speech — but she doesn’t just tell [...]

There's Only One Word That Accurately Defines This Woman

Danielle Orner has called herself a lot of things. In high school, she was a cross-country runner, an aspiring writer, a friend. When she was 15 years old, she became a bone cancer patient. At 16, she added “amputee” to her list after the disease took her lower right leg. In college, though her cancer [...]

8-Year-Old Who Lost Both Her Legs to Cancer Completes Impressive Feat

Kayla Wiggins is just 8 years old, but she’s already beaten bone cancer two times. Despite losing both of her legs to the disease, Kayla participated in the 2014 Lilac Bloomsday Run in Spokane, Wash., on Sunday, May 4. “She inspires me to overcome things that I think are difficult,” Philippa Mayall, Kayla’s aunt, says in the [...]