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10 Unexpected Ways a Cancer Diagnosis Can Have an Impact on Your Life

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A cancer diagnosis can be the scariest part of a person’s life, and yet, so many people have this amazing way of finding a silver lining in it all.

The Mighty teamed up with Inspire, an organization that builds and manages online support communities for patients and caregivers, to ask people about the unexpected ways a cancer diagnosis has had an impact on their lives.

Be a part of the discussion, and share your own experiences, on the original thread at Inspire.

Here’s what people had to say:

1. I have become closer to my family. I am sorry that it took cancer to realize what an amazing family I have, but now, everything has changed for the better. We laugh more, love more and live more. I know that I can count on my family to take care of me no matter what my issues. I feel so blessed.” — Krisalex

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2. “Cancer made me realize how short life is. I appreciate every day, don’t sweat the small, and get on with my bucket list. Cancer hasn’t slowed me down; it’s speeded me up.” — balihigh

3. “[Being] diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer 28 years ago has given me a mission in life. My mission is to give hope to those dealing with what I have experienced. I don’t think there is anything more rewarding. When a person gives to others, they then receive so much in return.” — Helenstandsforhope

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4. “It has enabled me to talk to someone who is sick and listen and be empathetic. It has caused me to be a cheerleader for all. I work with the public of which many are regular customers and never realized how many had breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer, leukemia. It has made me more aware of others and their fights. I want them to know no matter what together we are better.” —  gram8

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5. “Mostly it has made my life from diagnosis forward a more thankful one. I appreciate what I have. I am more concerned about making memories than making money.” — frieds

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6. “I am now more grateful for the little things in life. My job isn’t my life anymore, I’ve moved back home to be closer to my family, and I have something to thank God for multiple times each day.”wildcatfan07

7. I have noticed I am less tolerant of rude, insensitive or bullying behaviors in my adult friends.” — mommoo65

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8. One way a cancer diagnosis has impacted my life is by making me realize that I want to marry and have kids with my boyfriend. Most of my life, I have been unsure of marriage… and even more unsure of kids. After my boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer, I realized part of me really hopes for a family with him. When my baby nephew was diagnosed with cancer two months after my boyfriend, that cancer diagnosis made me realize my strengths, especially in caring for others and being able to step up for loved ones when it mattered most.” — h0peful1

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9. “Being diagnosed with cancer gave me the strength I needed to recognize and eliminate the stressful, demanding and negative people from my life. I believe in the ‘power of positive thinking,’ and with the encouragement and support of my family and close friends, I know we will all make it through this scary journey one step at a time. I also notice and appreciate many simple things that I’ve taken for granted for way too long – like the smell of rain, the sound of birds chirping, a soft breeze, laughter, and so much more.” —LillianG

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10. “A cancer diagnosis has given me the ability to reevaluate my entire life. I can now say no with conviction and no guilt. I no longer spend time on projects, causes, charities or troublesome people out of pure inertia or pure obligation… I spend quality time with my husband and family now. I enjoy the little things in life every day. This may be reading a few pages in a borrowed book, filling the bird feeder or calling a friend. All wonderful. I never thought a cancer diagnosis could have a silver lining — for me it has. I am now living my life, not just passing through it.” —  Carolsmith-Illinois

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*Answers have been edited and shortened for brevity 

Be a part of the discussion, and share your own experiences, on the original thread at Inspire.

The Mighty, in partnership with Fuck Cancer, is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself in regards to a cancer diagnosis. What would you say or wish someone had told you? Find out how to email us a story submission here.

Originally published: October 30, 2015
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