12 Reasons Why Children Who Battle Cancer Are Superheroes

At CureSearch, we believe that children diagnosed with leukemia, rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma and more are superheroes because they battle one of the most the evil villains known to man — cancer.

To celebrate National Superhero Day on April 28th, we asked our dedicated staff members to share why they think children who battle cancer are superheroes. Here are their answers:

1. “Children who battle cancer are superheroes because they don’t let the villain they are currently facing alter their hope for the future.” – Mallory Z.

2. “Children who battle cancer are superheroes because they take on the challenge of treatment with grace, dignity and determination.” – Mary M.

girl wearing superhero shirt and cape with text there is a superhero inside all of us. we just need the courage to put on the cape

3. “Children who battle cancer stare down the baddest villain, and very often do it with a smile on their face in between rounds of dress-up and Candyland!” – Brecka P.

4. “Children who battle cancer are superheroes because they possess the characteristics necessary to defeat a villain like cancer; bravery, strength, compassion, optimism and willpower.” – Eric R.

girl wearing superhero shirt and cape with quote life doesnt give us purpose. we give life purpose

5. “Children who battle cancer are superheroes because of their unique traits, creativity, imagination and determination who must fight with all their might, through the longest of nights just to smile at the new sunrise after defeating villains in the dark.” – Amber M.

6. “Children who battle cancer are forever superheroes because not only do they defeat the evil villain cancer one time, but their powers remain with them for a lifetime as they battle secondary cancers and long-term effects from treatment.” – Kelli W.

boy wearing superhero cape with quote you're much stronger than you think you are. trust me

7. “Children who battle cancer are superheroes because they possess the strongest super powers that come from within. They are the strongest, the bravest, the mightiest of all superheroes!” – Erin. R.

8. “Forget leaping over tall buildings, these kids are superheroes by their strength, perseverance, and the way they still care for everyone else around them! I’ll be a sidekick for each and every one of them!” – Jennifer M.

9. “Children who batter cancer are superheroes because they demonstrate perseverance and grace through the battle.” – Kathy B.

10. “Children who battle cancer are superheroes because they fight with all their might to conquer the beast!” – Sarita S.

girl wearing superhero shirt and quote in a world of ordinary mortals, you are a wonder woman

11. “Children who battle cancer are superheroes because they never stop fighting! They change the lives of everyone they touch.” – Michelle M.

12. “Superheroes have no interest in being victims — they take on the bad guys head-on. They just fight. That’s what our kids do — they just fight.” – Mary B.

boy wearing superhero cape and quote the future is worth it. all the pain, all the tears, the future is worth the fight

Help us fight the villain cancer by donating toward lifesaving research. Help us give every superhero a chance to live a longer, better and healthier life.

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Thinkstock photo by Choreograph


20 Survival Tips for Dealing With Cancer Distress

At times, battling cancer itself is not the only hard part of the experience. In addition to physical and mental hardship, individuals with cancer often must cope with distress that at times may feel debilitating.

The moment a person is diagnosed with cancer, distress is likely to begin to surface. As an advocacy organization that works directly with patients, Good Days regularly supports individuals who not only need financial resources, but require the right information that will aid their specific health care situation. We asked our patient care specialists and the Good Days’ community of friends who have personally dealt with cancer to share their survival tips for dealing with distress. Here is what they had to say:

1. “Don’t deny, don’t accept, and don’t quit. Understand you still have control in more areas than you realize even though your life has changed.” – Nancy O.

2. “Appreciate the simple things: a sunrise or sunset, the sound of rain falling, the smell of fresh cut grass, or a wood-burning fire. Basically, some of the things that we take for granted but make life beautiful.” – Samantha C.

3. “Say the things you want to say, even if you’re afraid.” – Samantha C.

4. “Have a sense of humor and make a fool of yourself as often as you can.” – Samantha C.

5. “Create a scrapbook of life’s journey, experiences, lessons, quotes, and anything that has meaning to you.” – Cindy S.

6. “Find someone who is just willing to listen… especially on the bad days. The ability to express oneself can make a bad day better.” – Julie W.

7. “Find ways to laugh. Being with babies and kids can help, but also read joke books, watch comedy shows. Laughter helps more than it gets credit for.” – Randie O.

8. “Take daily self-reflection time where all distractions are turned off (phones, emails etc.).” – Sabrina T.

9. “Engage with local support groups to connect with other people who may have the same struggles and to know you are not alone.” – Sabrina T.

10. “Think positively.” – Sabrina T.

11. “Take yoga lessons or exercise if able. It doesn’t have to be high level, adjust to how you feel.” – Randie O.

12. “If the patient is well enough maybe a dance class to let loose and be energetic.” – Vanessa T.

13. “Have a book club specific to books about overcoming obstacles and dealing with hard times.” – Vanessa T.

14. “Take up painting. It’s a great way to express and release some emotions. Just remember, it’s not about being good but about expressing yourself.” – Jonathan P.

15. “Help others whenever you have the chance – you’ll find that you’re helping yourself in the process.” – Samantha C.

16. “If things start to feel out of control, take a walk and clear your mind. Don’t forget to breathe!” – Samantha C.

17. “Spend time around friends when possible – go out to lunch or dinner, see a play, talk about good memories. This takes you out of the ‘sick moment” and makes life normal even if just for a little while.” – Nancy O.

18. “Spend time with your spouse, children, grandchildren and loved ones. Appreciate one another and the time we have together.” – Julie W.

19. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network offers a free online resource that helps people with cancer identify their levels of distress and also the experts with specialized knowledge and skills to help with emotional or coping difficulties.” – Clorinda W.

20. “This poem was shared with my grandfather when he was first diagnosed with cancer last year. He says it helps remind him that his cancer doesn’t mean the end, it’s just another page in his story.” – Rebecca D.

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit

– Author Unknown

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Thinkstock photo by prudkov

Illustration of two people talking, with shadows on the ground

‘How Are You?’ Isn’t the Same After My Cancer Diagnosis

“How are you?” you ask as we meet in the hallway.

“Pretty good.”


“Hanging in.”

I see the questions and surprise in your eyes.

“Wait, I thought you had cancer and were on chemo?” they might be thinking.

I could tell you how I’m tired, or how my fingers tingle from the cold, especially if it’s cold and rainy, how my hands are cracked, peeling, flaking, burning — tight and shiny.

Or how I have to catch my breath after getting up to cross the room.

I could tell you that sometimes I’m foggy or distracted.

Do you want to know about the occasional constipation? Or hurry calls? Probably not!

Or the weird, bland, sandpapery feel in my mouth — not a bad taste, per se, just kind of blah. Food just isn’t as fun.

How about the way my port sometimes gets tender, or irritated when my bra strap rubs against it the wrong way.

Or how when I’m wearing my pump how I have to deal with the intermittent buzz and the annoying pressure of the thick band of elastic around my waist, like I’m wearing Spanx, or a really snug corset.

And if it’s Tuesday, the day after my chemo session, how my cheeks will turn bring red and I’ll feel flushed for the rest of the day — maybe Wednesday, too.

And then there are the visits to the lab, where I get to be a pincushion for a zealous phlebotomist. Some of the bruises are legendary.

And don’t even get me started on the inability to shower for those days. Yeah, I do get to bathe, but it’s just not the same as the feel of nice, hot water running over my head, across my shoulders and down my back.

I’d like to swim, but the water at the pool is probably too cold — even in the so-called “warm pool.”

And I really miss drinks filled with ice, but don’t want to risk the same pins and needles in my throat that I get in my fingers when I pick up a soda can or grab something from the freezer case in the supermarket. Yep! I’m the one wearing gloves to grab frozen french fries out of the case.

You may have questions you aren’t asking.

No, I don’t have nausea and I still have my hair, but it’s drier now — and thinning, probably getting grayer, too, but that may not be the cancer.

I could tell you all of those things, but you may have already walked on.

I’m sure you care, but you may not want me to give you the “real” answers.

So I respond:

“Pretty good.”


“Hanging in.”

And you know what?

I am!

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Thinkstock image by Jason Reed/Ryan McVay

Side profile of young woman playing with son (8-9) on rug

Telling My Kids I Have Cancer

I was diagnosed with cancer when my boys were 5 and 7. It is exquisitely painful to watch your children be confronted with a tremendous loss of innocence at such a young age, while at the same time breathtaking and inspiring to watch how brave they are in the face of uncertainty. For example:

When I initially was diagnosed, we waited to understand the treatment plan before telling them what was happening. I was concerned because they both knew my own mother had died from breast cancer before they were born, so I wanted to protect them from that fear as much as possible. Once it became clear that chemotherapy was going to cause me to lose my hair completely, we knew we would have to discuss the side effects of my new medicine, but I was still hoping to protect them from the C-word.

We sat them down to explain the side effects, and the first question out of my oldest son’s mouth was, “Do you have cancer?” Initially I was evasive, saying it was something like that. However, when he asked me the same question six weeks later, I knew he needed to hear it. Telling the boys helped us all, making it easier to undergo the five months of chemo prior to surgery.

It opened the door for them to express their worries and fears. They needed to know if I would die, when I was in pain, to express their anger at the cancer. My youngest took it upon himself to tell anyone who seemed curious, “This is my mom, she’s bald.” He was also very proud to tell people when my hair was starting to grow again.

The day before the double mastectomy, the kids had a half-day of school. This meant not only was I trying to squeeze in a full day of work seeing clients in my private practice but I also had to juggle getting home in time to take them off the bus, take them with me for the plastic surgeon to draw the surgery lines on my body, and pick up my husband from his work (since we only had one car) so he could drop me back off at work to finish meeting with clients. It was one of those days where if any of the timing were to go off, we would be in trouble.

At the end of the appointment, my amazing plastic surgeon turned to the boys and asked them if they had any questions for her. My oldest asked with a strained voice, “Will she die?” To watch them be vulnerable, brave, protective and honest about their feelings made me so proud of them. I knew they worried about me dying throughout the treatment process, and I was really impressed with the way they were able to talk about it.

So if you have children and you are beginning this process, be prepared for them to be quite intuitive. Keep it as simple as possible, allow their questions to guide you as to what they are prepared to hear and need to understand. Honesty with my children  allowed them to be more open with their feelings, as well as to keep the sacred trust intact.

Follow this journey on Creative Transformations.

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Thinkstock photo by Purestock

Boat at sea at sunset

Coming Out, as Dying

I am coming out, as dying.

In November 2015, I was diagnosed with stage four cancer. “Four” befour I even reached 40. Four. Cancer.

I am coming out, as dying.

Imagine being told you are going to die a painful death, sooner than nearly everyone you know, by several decades. Think about the pain.

Let me take you into my world.

In November 2015, I was diagnosed as dying. And while at first, I was open about it, like a door slamming viciously closed in the wind, I backtracked within days and eradicated any mention of the truth from all but my closest friends and family.

So now I move among the world, in hiding. I look fine. I seem to get sick more and sleep more than most people. And what is up with all those doctors’ appointments?

I am coming out, as dying.

Imagine living a life when you hear people say in a meeting, “When planning four the launch in 2020,” and the physical pang that vibrates through you, with the word four, and 2020, and knowing you won’t see that project complete. And the anger that it is being taken away from you, and the ridiculousness of wanting to see some ridiculous project come to fruition, and the knowledge you are alone in that room with those thoughts.

And then the deluge, “Is this what I want to be doing with my time? What else should I do? Do I really have a choice? How am I going to fund treatment? If money was really no object would I just travel the world alone seeing everything but in actuality just wake up alone in a hotels rooms scattered around the globe wondering how long until I die?”

Next thing you know you back in a conference room and you hear yourself saying, “I am sorry, what did you ask me…”

I am coming out, as dying.

Coming out for me is acknowledging my true self and the act of revealing my true self, my true thoughts, to the world, even if the world doesn’t like it, can’t handle it, or reviles against it.

Coming out for me is acknowledging the truth even if it means losing friends and changing the way the world interacts with me. It means having to deal with other people’s sadness, and damn sad eyes, and losing work because people think my dying means tomorrow. It means a lot of things, for another blog post.

There are a lot of reasons I have hid my dying.

And in hiding my dying, I have been hiding me.

It is exhausting to hide me… And I have plenty to exhaust me without this.

So, I am coming out, as dying.

I am dying.

Woman canoeing at sunset on Jackfish Lake, Manitoba.

What I Learned at Young Adult Cancer Camp

How did I get myself into this? Shooting down glacial runoff in class four rapids with nothing between me and drowning, but a plastic orange kayak? Me, whose idea of an athletic challenge is taking an intermediate yoga class instead of beginner. Obviously, I misunderstood when I signed up for kayaking camp. I had envisioned peaceful excursions along a gorgeous coastline. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Our first view of the river was from a bridge, where kayakers-to-be, including me and a bunch of my new camper friends, only know each other by nicknames. I’m Twisted, and there’s Herb, Peach, Wacky, Zena, Popcorn, Hendrix and Gadget. We looked down the ravine, water gushing, frothing around huge boulders. Herb looked at me and raised her brows, a cartoonish expression of exactly what I was thinking, “No way!”

The next morning, I stuffed both legs into a black neoprene suit that was tighter than any pair of skinny jeans.

“First we’ll learn how not to tip over,” instructed Pleaser. Keeping my body centered and still – that I could do. That I practiced weekly in yoga. But doing it in a rubber wetsuit strapped to a kayak, in water, was different. Be still, I thought. My body and the boat swayed from side to side. Calm. Steady. The water rose on one side, then the other. Find a spot on the kayak and concentrate on that. Near the head of my kayak were two words, First Descents — and I focused and breathed in.

We floated at the bottom of mountain canyons, the sound of birds drifting above, the snowcapped peaks glistening, producing the liquid ice that became our river. I could have stayed in those moments of bliss observing the sky reflected in slivers. Then our guides wanted us to move.

“Baby steps,” Slash said, showing us how to paddle, first one side, then the other, to go straight. I mimicked her motions, sliding my paddle in a gentle sideways eight pattern and glided a few inches, following Wacky and Zena through the sky’s mirror.

“Great job Zena, Twisted! Next step, turning.” Slash demonstrated again. Wacky, who’d been here before, followed in a graceful arc.

Shifting my bodyweight to the left, I mimicked Wacky, stabbing my paddle in the clear water. Immediately I began to tip, swiveled my middle, and returned upright. “Try again.”

Again, tilt, stab, swivel, upright. Again. Tilt, stab, SLAM. A thousand icicles pierced my cheek.

“Ok, this is how you get up,” Slash fell over gracefully, jabbed her paddle into the water and pushed herself back up in an instant.

“You try.” I pulled my paddle down into the water with me and tried to flick it up with enough strength to right myself. Nothing. “It’s in your body, you have to move, like you’re dancing — thrust!” she called. I stabbed, twisted and thrusted. Nothing but an inch or two. “Again!”

Three, four, fives tries and on the sixth, I flung upright. Then, just to be sure, I fell over again, and again, and shot myself up, practicing this strength I never knew I had.

You want me to purposely capsize, trap myself under my kayak? That was the next step. Slash and Pleaser made it look so easy, like a somersault, only sideways down through the frigid, suffocating water and back up to oxygen and clear skies. One tilt, a slight muscle shift and I plunged into the cold. Like jumping into unknown, time slowed as swirls of water rushed all around. The world above, wooshing sounds and floating words from distant conversations, disappeared. Pleaser had encouraged us to hang there for a moment, holding our breath. “Learn to get comfortable, so you don’t panic.”

Don’t worry about not breathing? Here, not breathing, taking a moment to pause, listen, feel, assess felt oddly luxurious. Like I had all of the time in the world.

What bolstered my courage while underwater was the distress signal, clapping the underside of your kayak. It made a hollow, echo-y boom. Our guides promised they’d be there within five seconds, grabbing a strap on the front of the kayak to roll us back over. Hendrix tried easing into a fast current. The tip of his boat sliced, he flipped. He was under, one, two, three, then boom, boom, and Pleaser was there, rolling him over.

“If Popcorn can do it with only one leg,” I told myself, “You can do this.”

We practiced capsizing, rescuing ourselves by kicking out, and rescuing others by rolling them over for the whole day. By the time we emerged from the water, I knew one thing: I was not going to die on this trip.

On day two, we tried some short white waterish rapids. Like going over a series of small speed bumps while riding a bike, they tossed me around a bit, pushed me forward and made me giggle like I was on a Tilt-a-Whirl.

“That was fun! How long until the next set?” I called over to Herb.

“You’re getting to like it, Twisted!”

Slash’s and Pleaser’s killer skills were matched only by their knowledge and experience of the river. We spent the next three days exploring different sections where the rapids range from class one, easy, to class four, difficult. Each morning, we started at a section we mastered the day before, then moved to bigger challenge.

The last day we started at the beginning, at that section of the river that we saw from the bridge. The jagged water ran two football fields. All of us floated, holding on to each other’s boats, at the top. One by one, we broke off. Each of us rode the rapids, as our fellow kayakers and guides clapped, hooted and hollered as we lorded over the river and our fears.

We came here to get out of our comfort zone, to learn something new about ourselves, and what we can accomplish. That’s the reason we all know each other only by our nicknames – to escape our usual lives for a while. My fellow campers and I were bald, chemo-addled, disabled in a variety of ways. And by graduation day, each one of us rode down something we thought was impossible only five days before. We took control of our bodies and our destinies in a way that we hadn’t been able to in years. At a closing ceremony around the campfire, we tied red string around each other’s wrists before we returned to doctors’ appointments, scans, blood tests and the uncertainty that lay ahead. Perhaps that was the greatest part of kayaking camp, feeling excited by the rough water ahead, maneuvering through everything blocking our paths, and seeing the calm waters ahead where we knew that we could just float.

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Thinkstock Image By: robynleigh

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