Finding out that you have cancer will be one of the darkest and lowest points in your life. It may be the end of a road, but it’s not the end of the line.  Give yourself a certain amount of time (I gave myself 72 hours) to cry, to grieve, and to be a complete victim.  Ask yourself every question that can think of as to why you have been stricken with this awful disease.  After that period of time has expired, don’t look back.  Focus all of your strength on living in the present and bringing your own health and healing to fruition. 

There is a tendency to want to approach the news of a cancer diagnosis by going online to research your situation.  The problem with that approach is that none of the research that you will review takes into account who you are and what makes you unique.  My advice is to stay away from the Internet as a source of general information about your specific medical condition or what you can expect to happen to you. Too often, instead of making you feel better by answering your questions, Internet research is so broad and voluminous that it exacerbates your fears and anxieties.  Your medical team can provide you with whatever you need to know about your specific diagnosis and course of treatment.  Place your loyalty and trust in them.  

Instead of surfing the web for information, I also suggest that you find a mentor who has actually had your type of cancer and can answer some of your specific questions based on personal knowledge. There are numerous organizations that provide “peer to peer” support programs where you can communicate with someone who has experienced a similar disease or diagnosis. While everyone’s’ response to treatment is different, sharing your experience with someone who has walked a mile in shoes similar to yours is an invaluable opportunity to obtain information and insight into your situation.

Above all, remember that the same cancer experience that threatens your life can be the source for your recovery and healing.  Everything that will happen to you in your treatment will come in its own time. Rather than trying to predict what you cannot control, think about everything that defines who you are without cancer. This is what makes you the unique person that you are and separates you from everyone else.  Ultimately, the key to your health and healing lies within you, your heart and your soul.


One of the most critical actions that you can take when you are diagnosed, or while you are in treatment, is to define your experience in your own words. How you do that sets the tone for everything that will follow and how you can impact your outcome.

We are programmed by society to respond to acts of aggression with acts of force.  Confront and conquer any aggressor.  Far too often, people approach cancer in the same way. They are going to “fight” and “beat” the cancer as if it were some military exercise or athletic event.   

In my experience, this is a mistake. It defines your disease in cancer’s terms.  The outcome will be waged on the battlefield of your body where the cancer has already scaled the walls of your immune system and is seeking to take control of your life. You respond with anger, bitterness and the false belief that you can conquer this enemy.  The stress that you bring on yourself fuels the fire of your cancer and minimizes the impact that you can have on your own outcome.

Instead of approaching your cancer as a confrontation, choose the path of “Two For Twenty” which defines that part of who you are that the cancer cannot attack or affect.  That place, within your heart and soul, is yours and yours alone. Show your cancer how serious you are about impacting your own outcome not by “beating” it, but by the sheer power of your will and who you are.  Be positive, not defensive.  Instead of fighting the changes that cancer brings, accept them.  Celebrate what motivates and inspires you.  Feed your body with your mind.  As I wrote three days after I was diagnosed:

“When the armies of the morning meet the angels of the night
All that will remain will be the love and the light
They will sanctify my soul and lay my burden down”


No matter what course of treatment you undergo, you will lose some control over your life.  Decisions that you used to make for yourself will now be made by others, including your medical team and your caregiver. A stark reality will set in that you are no longer the sole captain of your own ship.

When this happens, remind yourself that the treatment that you are receiving is a stepping stone to your recovery and rebirth.  There will be no quick fix or shortcut. The road to your recovery will not come overnight, but will be a journey of small steps forward, setbacks and perseverance in the face of adversity.  At times it will seem as if recovery is light years away.  But every day will bring you one day closer to that destination. 

Through whatever means you choose, visualize your treatment as coming to the support of your weakened immune system to confront and overcome the cancer. Imagine the tumors inside of you shrinking in the face of your treatment and the force of your soul.  Come up with some phrase that inspires you and repeat it often. For me, it was, “it’s not my time.”  

In addition, don’t just show up at your cancer center for treatment in a negative state of mind or thinking about all the other things you would rather be doing.  Have a plan for how you are going to spend that time in a positive way that relaxes and comforts you.  I always created a special playlist of music that I listened to with headphones.  Chemo and song – my personal cocktail for the cancer blues.  When I walked out of the center, I felt better and more energized than when I had arrived.


In every life, there are seminal moments when whatever road you have been on turns off to a road you not only have never known, but you never knew could even exist.  One unavoidable result of cancer treatment is that the powerful medications you will be taking will create a daily life of ever changing moods and emotions.  One minute you are calm and composed, the next you are agitated and irritable. You learn firsthand that when you wake up each morning, you can never be sure what the day will bring and no two days will be the same.  This will be a profound change from your pre-cancer life when you were able to plan and control each part of your day. 

As hard as cancer treatment is - physically, spiritually and emotionally - it is important to find balance and harmony in how you accept the challenges that you have to face. Instead of fighting these changes, take all of the energy you would have spent on stress and anxiety and channel it into motivation and inspiration.  Let love in every form you can feel or imagine guide you through the uncertainties of each day.  Never forget that no matter how difficult one day may be, the sun will rise in the morning of a new tomorrow filled with its own hope and promise.


Despite all the support from family and friends, cancer treatment is a lonely experience.  As cancer patients, caregivers and family members, the life we knew before cancer will not return and we have to create a new one for ourselves that is always changing and never certain. 

At times you will feel as helpless as the day you were born. As much as you have tried in the past to shelter your loved ones from sadness and sorrow, the tables have turned and now you are the one that needs to be protected.  As a result, every cancer patient goes through periods of doubt in which we find ourselves depressed and afraid.

To face these fears and doubts, accept the reality of your diagnosis and realize that you still have the chance to decide if the glass is half full or half empty.  Whatever it is in your life that gives you energy and inspiration, keep that close to you at all times.  For me, it is music.  For you, it can be anything.  Find something that you are passionate about and that resonates deeply inside you.  It can be something you have experienced before or something that you have always wanted to try but have never done.  In my case, one of the first things I did after being diagnosed was to commit myself to recording my first album.  Whenever you begin to feel darkness creeping in, go to that place that is yours and follow your muse.


At some point, we all begin to feel as if we are a burden to those around us.  These feelings are reinforced by the time and energy that other people expend just to help us make it through each day.  No matter what you are going through, never lose track of how much you mean to everyone who is caring for you and believes in you.  They do not see you as a burden, but rather as a treasure to protect and cherish.  They genuinely want to help you, so let them do that.  Ask for help whenever you need it.  Accept the kindness of others whenever it is offered.  It is a win-win situation.  You feel the warmth of their compassion and affection, and the people who care about you will actually feel better by helping you instead of wondering what they can do to help.       

With the strength of your own conviction and purpose, together with the help of everyone who is caring for you, you will get back to where you once belonged and continue your path to health and healing.  It will take time and it will entail suffering, but stay strong, stay focused and you will get there.