What Cancer Cannot Do To Me by Dr. Rick Boulay


Cancer cannot fundamentally change who you are. If you're predominantly happy or fun loving or irritable or cranky, you will still be that same person throughout your life. However, cancer can magnify those personality traits that make us unique. If you've always had trouble making important (or not so important) life decisions, this may be even worse during cancer diagnosis and treatment. If you have always made light of and could find humor in difficult situations, it is likely that this trait will remain through your cancer journey. You will still hold dear your goals, hopes, and dreams and may work even harder to achieve them. Your beauty and uniqueness are embedded within you and will not change. Those experiences that have allowed you to get through your life in your own special way will carry you through your cancer in a unique and special way.


Cancer cannot define who you are. Your life to-date probably has been defined by a number of important events. Your upbringing is likely the most important contributor to who you are today and how you view the world. Whether you view life as a safe, happy, and a curious adventure where you can find good in almost everything or whether you loathe getting up in the morning to do the same old thing over and over again or like most of us—somewhere in between, this will not change. Your prior education, formal and informal, your coping strategies, how you celebrate milestones, and how you deal with loss will not change. You are defined by all the events that have come before and made you the person you are today. Your diagnosis of cancer will add to that. Life experiences may somewhat change how you approach your life, but cancer cannot define who you.


Cancer cannot take away hope. Although cancer is a time of high stress, anxiety, depression, and changes in our spiritual and interpersonal lives, it is hope and only hope that can drive us toward a time when our lives will be more settled, fulfilling, and happy. Cancer simply cannot take this away. Surprisingly, I found that cancer can magnify this hope; and in the times of our greatest darkness, hope becomes stronger and leads us toward a better day.


Cancer cannot take away love. It is interesting that times of crisis often bring unanticipated rewards. Like most others, you've probably spent your life doing what is right, pitching in when needed, and supporting others who are going through difficult times. Those loving acts will likely be returned to you a thousand fold. I'm sure that the number of cards on your table, the flowers that you have received, and the wishes of good health and good luck have been countless and sometimes surprising.


It is at times like this when you realize how deeply and strongly people support you and how loved you actually are. Allow that love to help you through your illness. Accept expressions of love such as meals, help with chores, errands, and with the many needs that you will have during this time. It is their time to express their love for you. Allow them to do it. This is their journey too.  
Draw on your strengths prior to your cancer diagnosis
What Can Cancer Do To Me
Cancer will change everything—your choices, physical body, relationships, fear, spirituality, isolation--positively or negatively; cancer will re-energize you towards your life’s long-term goals
How Did My Cancer Begin?
Discussion of genetic diseases, gene abnormalities, sporadic cancer, carcinogens, and genetic instability
Cancer Diagnosis
Introduction to needs, questions, and pillars of wisdom for cancer diagnosis
How Did I Get Cancer?
Discussion of gene abnormalities, environmental agents, dietary deficiencies, genetic changes, and adaptation to the environment
What Is Cancer?
Explanation of cancer, cancer’s terminology and definitions, and the goal of oncology