Young Thrivers!

| February 12, 2013 | 0 Comments

heatherjoseby Heather Jose and Christy James

What if we did can­cer dif­fer­ently? It is not inevitable that can­cer must equal sad­ness, sick­ness, grief and pain. They will be a part of it, no doubt. A diag­no­sis does not mean that the doc­tor is in charge and there is noth­ing you can do. There are many options as to how we deal with can­cer. One of those options is to thrive.

Can­cer is an oppor­tu­nity. It is a chance to find out what really lies within each of us and to show our strengths to our­selves, our fam­i­lies and the world. I don’t know of one per­son who asked to get can­cer, but I do know many who would tell you it changed their life for the bet­ter. I am one of those women.

Can­cer is your time to shine. It is an oppor­tu­nity to do more than sur­vive. It pro­vides a chance to eval­u­ate and change the things that aren’t work­ing in your life. That is a great oppor­tu­nity. It is a time to chal­lenge your­self to do more, make your­self a pri­or­ity, become a light in the dark­ness. It is a chance to sur­round your­self with peo­ple who encour­age you, who keep you account­able, and who pro­vide uncon­di­tional love.

All over Amer­ica women are sign­ing up and pay­ing to do these crazy 5K walks and chal­lenges that involve head to toe mud, climb­ing over bar­ri­ers and run­ning through fire. They are get­ting up early and join­ing boot camps and push­ing them­selves like never before. It helps them feel in con­trol in a world that seem­ingly is more out of con­trol each day.

What if we did can­cer dif­fer­ently? What if instead of send­ing peo­ple to sup­port groups with women in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances we asked them to apply to find a men­tor who has sim­i­lar strengths and could pro­vide guid­ance and encour­age­ment? What if we encour­aged them to sur­round them­selves with the peo­ple they wanted to become? We can’t wait for a cure when we know that we can make a dif­fer­ence. It is imper­a­tive that we shift from wait­ing on some­one to doing some­thing for our­selves. I will not be in a lab wait­ing on a drug to kill can­cer, but I will be on the road with my run­ning shoes know­ing that exer­cise is good for killing can­cer. I can make a difference.

My pas­tor talked about two words the other day: Inter­est and com­mit. He asked what we were inter­ested in, where we choose to spend some free time for a cou­ple of min­utes each day. Then he asked what we were com­mit­ted to. Things that we wouldn’t go a day with­out giv­ing time, energy, and resources to. Wow. It is time to commit!

Heather Jose
Author, Speaker, Breast Can­cer Well­ness Advo­cate

Heather Jose is a 14 year thriver of stage IV breast can­cer, diag­nosed at age 26, with a prog­no­sis of six months to live. A national speaker and advo­cate, Heather’s mes­sage is to Go Beyond Treat­ment.



christiejamesPutting it all together. We chose to sur­round our­selves with peo­ple who gave us hope and inspired us to make a dif­fer­ence. We had met a lot of experts and gath­ered a lot of infor­ma­tion, but now what?

Now it was time to do the work. It didn’t really feel like work, although it wasn’t exactly easy either. We def­i­nitely got out of our com­fort zone. Usu­ally, the thought of exer­cis­ing and eat­ing well sounds like a daunt­ing task, but not this time. We were going for health. The stakes were high and we had our eye on the prize. We were will­ing to do most any­thing to make a dif­fer­ence. I don’t recall Heather ever dwelling on the ques­tion of “Why me?” We noticed there was no fam­ily his­tory. We were very aware that she was quite young for breast can­cer. But the how and the why didn’t mat­ter. This was the hand that was dealt and we had to play the hand to the very best of our abil­ity. We focused on right now and what could we do to make it bet­ter. We didn’t worry about how sus­tain­able our project was… we were just hop­ing to get to for­ever. We did what we could do today. We let the experts do their things and we did ours.

Every­thing was about health. “Every day we are killing can­cer” was our motto. Heather even made a sign. When Heather was in the hos­pi­tal her sign hung in her room to let every­one who entered know what we were there to do.

We made choices every day and we were con­sis­tent. In some ways deci­sions got eas­ier. Is this good for me? Yes or no. Things were very clear. Do I feel like going out­side in the snow for a walk or do I feel like sit­ting in this chair for the next half hour instead? Which is bet­ter for me? I am an exer­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist now and I am yet to meet any­one who has ever wished they skipped a work­out after it was done. To find our best options on a restau­rant menu, we made it a puz­zle or a game.  One of the ben­e­fits of this new plan was that we were feel­ing good. We didn’t feel deprived, we felt empow­ered. Exer­cise gave us energy, cleared our minds and made us feel strong. We were feel­ing good in the midst of this cri­sis. I’m not sure either of us ever even imag­ined that feel­ing good was possible.

So ask your­self over and over or find some­one else to ask the ques­tion… is this good for me? You have the tools to get started. So I’ll leave you with a quote from the Dr. Seuss book Oh the Places You’ll Go, “Today is your day! Your moun­tain is wait­ing. So… get on your way!”

Christy James
Christy James is Heather’s long time friend. Together they faced the breast can­cer jour­ney together. Even though they lived miles apart, Christy wanted to help and sup­port Heather how­ever she could. They talked on the phone almost every day, shar­ing the strug­gles and bask­ing in the triumphs.


Category: Inspire

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