The spring of 2011 marks a milestone for me. It is my 10th anniversary of living with cancer. (Just writing those words makes me nauseous). At times, my life seems so surreal. Yes, I'm happy I am alive, but I am still angry that this monster chose my door to knock on. I am alive because my body luckily has reacted well to the pharmacy of drugs that have been pumped into my system.
The future of cancer lies in the discovery of new, non-toxic therapies that can keep patients alive — and can control cancer by turning it into a chronic disease — not one which you will die from.
In honor of this milestone, I share with you 10 revelations that have come to me on this journey.
1. Cancer is not for sissies. Get yourself a helmet - this is war.
2. Your life is at stake – do not take this sitting down. Get on the Internet and research everything ever written about your type of cancer. Research treatment options. Write down your questions. Take someone with you to doctor’s appointments, to take notes or take a recorder.
3. Do not get a second opinion – get at least four. I got seven, but not until I researched who the smartest in the field of oncology were. Call everyone you know in the medical field to see who they would recommend.
4. Be a cry baby, then knock it off and move forward. Crying is one of the greatest stress relievers of all time. You feel so much lighter after a good cry.
Tip: Try to cry with someone. It's better than crying alone - Although I find both useful.
5. It’s OK to have Jack Nicholson moments. (You know, anger management moments... Anger Management, A Few Good Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). Buy a foam bat and beat the sofa cushions. Also, it's OK to cry in front of your kids. You will never be able to sustain that superhuman persona.
6. Don’t forget there are jerks out there. If anyone tells you that God gave you cancer for a reason – do or say something equally evil and offensive to them and then walk away.
7. Visualize the end. Not the end of life. The end of cancer inside your body. During radiation I would visualize a huge fire hose washing the cancer out of my body. I would start at my head and visualize the cancer traveling down through my body and out through my feet. I felt cleansed.
8. Support groups are not for everyone. If the tone of the group is filled with anger and negativity, it’s OK to run.
9. Walk barefoot as often as possible. This is one of the best ways to connect with your “inner you" and in turn the universe. Walk, reflect and take in the healing vibrations which are on the floor of the planet.
10. Rock on. Never underestimate the power of music. Get out your old records from high school, college and your 20s. Wow. It’s an instant mood changer. Grab a wooden spoon to use as a microphone and sing and dance your heart out.
Uh-oh... I guess I have 11.
11. This is the most important one of all... Laugh until you cry. Laughter is the greatest healer. Tune into Comedy Central, watch sitcoms, go to a funny movie. Comedians are God's gift to the human condition. That's why I asked my friend Jack Black to do a mammogram for my website. He is hilarious. It is hilarious. At the same time, the message hits home. Early detections are as close as you can come to a cure.
Please join me in this fight by joining Men for Women Now. We will send you updates on upcoming events, relevant news and ways that you can help. It will allow me to stay in touch with more of you so that together we can make a meaningful difference.
Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is co-founder of STAND UP TO CANCER and co-produced the TV show, which raised 100 million dollars for cancer research. Noreen went on to create the Noreen Fraser Foundation to raise money and awareness for women's cancer research. The 'Men for Women Now' program enlists men to ask the women they love to make appointments for their mammogram and pap smear. Noreen can be reached at email@example.com.
Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Noreen can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.