What cancer has taught me

I am about to leave the house for chemo. I was given a week off for “good behavior” - in actuality, it was because I was very sick from side effects and required a week for my body to recover.

Right now, I am dealing with bronchitis.  My instincts tell me that I should wait a few more days for chemo, but my doctor wants me to come in and bite the bullet.  So, what do you do? Listen to your gut, or listen to your doctor?  My kids are home for Spring Break this week, and if I waited a few more days I would be able to spend the weekend with them free of side-effects.  My dad is also visiting, and he's “old school,” so he wants me to not take any chances and go to chemo today. Therefore, I will have my treatment today with an optimistic mindset and hope for the best.

I have learned so much through this process.  I have learned to accept help from family and friends with gratitude, even though I am normally the one giving to others (a much more comfortable position for me).  I have learned to keep the faith and believe I will kill the beast.  I have learned that I must strive to know more about my disease than anyone else, even the doctors, because there are alternative therapies like acupuncture, yoga, meditation and visualization which can support the work of Western medicine.

I have learned that no matter how much help and support I receive, I am still on this journey alone, and I must make peace with what I believe will happen once I leave this earth.  That particular fear will kill you.  I've learned that laughing and a sense of humor can take you from A to B.

I've learned that I must take a stand when it comes to people in my life who are negative and cause stress.  They are out of my life and my home forever, or at least until I recover.  They will be an increasingly smaller part of my life.

I have learned so many things and feel by writing a book, I could be of help to those fighting this battle and to their caretakers. Are there already too many books out there?  Is there information you think would be useful to you that no one has yet tackled?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Most important of all, I still believe what I learned in grade school:  We are here for the purpose of helping others.

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. For more information: go tonoreenfraserfoundation.org.  Noreen can be reached at noreen@noreenfraserfoundation.org and followed on Twitter @noreenfraser.