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There’s more to a diagnosis than meets the eye

There’s more to a diagnosis than meets the eye
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Being on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis can rock your world. Surviving cancer can sometimes give people a newfound perspective on life, and it’s the kind of insight that can help other people who might be going through it. Here’s what these people have learned from their experience.

“People ask if I had it to do again, would I choose cancer? Yes.”

“People ask if I had it to do again, would I choose cancer? Yes.”
COURTESY ANITA CROMWELL

Physical therapist Sally Morgan has been a breast cancer survivor for ten years now – and believe it or not, other survivors share her sentiment. “Facing cancer forces you to look inward, ask yourself hard questions about life, death, purpose, and gratitude, and it enables a new depth and understanding of how to live life from your heart, following your soul’s purpose,” Morgan explains. Learn why this “veteran” from the cancer front doesn’t want to be called a “survivor.”

“I won’t let cancer define me, but I’ll use my journey to help others.”

“I won’t let cancer define me, but I’ll use my journey to help others.”
COURTESY DOUG CLARKE

A veteran firefighter, Douglas Clarke was no stranger to epic battles even before he was diagnosed twice with lung cancer – the second time when it had spread to his brain. In spite of these challenges, Doug is still fighting fires, teaching and travelling. Doug is also a Lung Force Hero with the American Lung Association (ALA) – the goal of these heroes is to unite people in the fight against lung cancer.

“Parents with children who have cancer: I was your child 30 years ago, and I’m here today.”

“Parents with children who have cancer: I was your child 30 years ago, and I’m here today.”
COURTESY ST. BALDRICK'S FOUNDATION

Nora Kulkarni was once a child battling cancer (in her case, it was non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Now an advocate for a not-for-profit organisation to help find cures for childhood cancers, she has this to say about her journey: “Being able to meet the parents of a child in treatment and say to them, ‘I know what you’re going through, and I survived what your child is fighting to survive,’ is incredibly powerful.”

“Through embracing my situation, I took back the power.”

“Through embracing my situation, I took back the power.”
COURTESY JUSTIN SANDLER

Actor Justin Sandler – he’s also a director, drummer, and business owner – was diagnosed with an aggressive germ cell tumour in his chest. What got him through his intense treatment plan (45 nights in a hospital, 60 bags of chemo, and five surgeries) is embracing his cancer. “By coming from love, even going as far as telling my tumour that I loved and appreciated it, I was able to remain at peace, stay positive, and grow as a person.”

“Let go of things you can’t control.”

“Let go of things you can’t control.”
COURTESY NATE BATTLE

Diagnosed with prostate cancer when he was only 49, Nate Battle wasn’t too surprised: Ten out of 12 of the men in his family have had the same diagnosis. Nate let the diagnosis be his reality check, and he began to live in the present. “Yesterday ended last night. The future hasn’t happened yet. Live now! And let go of what’s outside of your control.”

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“Just because I can’t control what life throws at me, doesn’t mean I can’t control how I handle it.”

“Just because I can’t control what life throws at me, doesn’t mean I can’t control how I handle it.”
COURTESY DEVIN DUNCAN

“Being a survivor means feeling gratitude just for opening my eyes in the morning,” says Devin Duncan, a two-time survivor of childhood leukaemia (once at age 3, and again at age 17). “I’ve faced more in my 25 years than most people do in their whole lifetime,” says Duncan, “and I overcame it all. I refuse to let my body tell me I’m not invincible.”

“I look at my cancer as any chronic disease.”

“I look at my cancer as any chronic disease.”
COURTESY FRANK SIERAWSKI

Frank Sierawski was just 35 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was stage 4 – very advanced, and Frank was a father of three young children. Today, he’s happy to report that he’s surviving – and he’s constantly monitoring and managing his cancer as he would diabetes or heart disease.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to keep seeking additional options.”

“Sometimes it’s necessary to keep seeking additional options.”
COURTESY LAURA DAILEY

“Activate your courage and resilience to seek more options and thrive beyond cancer,” Heidi Bright advises anyone with a diagnosis of cancer. In 2009, Heidi Bright was diagnosed with aggressive end-stage uterine cancer. In 2011, she was sent home to die. Eight years later, however, Heidi is still here. “Using carefully selected integrative therapies, and healing my life, I’m enjoying radical remission,” she says. These are the cancer myths people need to stop believing, according to doctors.

“I can’t emphasise enough the importance of support.”

“I can’t emphasise enough the importance of support.”
COURTESY JOSH PERRY

Right after he left home to pursue his pro riding career, professional BMX rider Josh Perry had a fall that led to an MRI – which revealed a large brain tumour. Young, alone and terrified, Josh could have crumbled. Instead, he reached out to his fans, friends and family for help; through this support network he learned about treatments that saved his life. “My wish is anyone facing a terrifying diagnosis will find the strength to seek out the support they need.”

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Please be advised that due to the current lockdown in the Philippines, we hope to have the April print issue available by the middle of July, and the May, June and July issues available by the end of July, but this is dependent on when local lockdown restrictions are lifted. We sincerely apologise for this inconvenience. Thank you and stay safe!
– The Reader’s Digest team