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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

Appreciating life in a way that I never have before.

Written by Anita Brown on 
15th April, 2019
Updated: 29th January, 2024
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

“Its most likely cancer” they were the words that changed my life.

For the worse AND for the better.   Even as I type those words it makes me smile and shudder. One thing it dod do is make me appreciate life.

I am now living in my 4th year since being diagnosed with a neuroendocrine small cell bladder cancer.  4 years!!! Wow!  And yes, the past 4 years have been challenging, trying and distressing at times however they have also been filled with love and laughter. 

Filled with a new, greater understanding of this life.

I always say that

“The worse year of my life” also became the “best year of my life.”

How totally messed up does that sound? But it is TRUE and I have cancer to thank for that.

I wouldn't have realised that I can write, had I not been diagnosed with a terminal, incurable cancer.  I wouldn't have looked at all my priorities, I wouldn't of looked at my life and realised how I was just existing, not living, not fully grasping the moment nor appreciating the small things in life.

I have had so many amazing moments appreciating life in the last 3 years.

Speaking at the Macmillan Coffee morning at The Houses of Parliament and at the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancers’ Conference last December.  Helping to spread awareness and aiming to highlight bladder cancer.

“The worse year of my life” also became the “best year of my life.”

I know having cancer sucks, I know that there have been people who aren't as lucky as me, who haven't survived this journey and it is heartbreaking.  there is no rhyme nor reason to why I am still alive, especially when the prognosis was so grim.

We all have a choice on how we react to events in our lives and that choice can help to define who we are and what we do with the information and experiences that we have a patient and as a human being.

Standing up and speaking to all those people, who would of thought it?

Little old me, Anita Brown, who has done nothing spectacular in her life and now I have a voice and I am using it for the greater good. I am making a difference in a small but positive way.  And it isn't all “about me’ this is about finding a purpose within my life, finding a reason to live, appreciating life, connecting and growing with other people in the same situation.

I believe that life itself is a challenge, we grown and learn and if we are lucky we can see the bigger picture. Life isn't all about material things, life isn't about money (although it would be nice) life is about the small things.  Helping and supporting others, using my voice I can make a ripple and when we all come together, we become a powerful force and appreciate all life has to offer.

We become strong.  We become UNSTOPPABLE!

I love my life now, so much more than I did before.

We count my “perfect moments” every day and it can be as something so simple as walking Sherlock in the woods and noticing the trees, the ferns and taking that time to realise just how lucky we are that we can do things like this.  That nothing is a chore.  That small moments are the big moments in our lives.

Appreciating life in a way that I never have before.  Not taking anything for granted, learning to live with the cancer, being thankful that I am alive.  How often are we really and truly thankful for being alive?  I never used to give it a second thought if I am being honest with you.

Please don't misunderstand me, it isn't all unicorns and rainbows all of the time, we just choose to focus on the happy times.

We choose to stay away from dramas, from gossip, from negativity.  I know that we wouldn't have this understanding of life now if I hadn't been diagnosed with cancer and I am a much nicer person now than I was before.  (ask my hubby) and I use the “we’ because it isn’t “just you” on this self discovery journey.

The hubs appreciates life so much more now.  He also knows that whatever life brings we can deal with anything as we have faced the worst thing that we could ever imagine happening and we are surviving and thriving

Cancer strips you down to your soul, you have a lot of time to reflect on life whilst lying on the sofa.

You begin to notice that there is much more to life than getting up, working and coming home.  You begin to understand what life is all about. You appreciate and take the time to

stop and smell the flowers

Little old me, Anita Brown, who has done nothing spectacular in her life and now I have a voice and I am using it for the greater good.

Relationships!!

My relationships and friendships have strengthened because of cancer.  I take the time now to spend it with the people I love.  I am a stronger person that I was before.  I know that  WE can deal with A N Y T H I N G now and that N O T H I N G will stop me from, what I now see as my life purpose, and that is to speak to as many people as I can and share the signs and symptoms of bladder cancer.

Cancer has been a blessing to me.

Would I go back to the “me” before…. erm Nope! I like this Anita, this Anita is far more understanding, compassionate and caring than the old Anita.

This Anita has empathy and the ability to connect with people on a level that she never has before.  She is a happy, smiley person with the confidence of a hippo now, she is appreciating life, and that's all thanks to cancer!

Further reading

Building a new life: A personal story of secondary cancer

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