Diane

Diagnosed in 2013

Diane is a 68-year-old mother of two from Yonkers, New York. She was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic lung cancer in 2013.

Believe in miracles, because they happen. And at the moment I'm living proof of it.

These are the experiences, ideas and views of each individual person featured here. Your own situation may be different and these ideas may not work for you.

Diane's Journey With Cancer

  • Diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic lung cancer in 2013
  • Three cycles of chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy since July 2013

It's overwhelming when the doctor says you have two months. But have faith in the fact that there is hope out there, and do one day at a time.

Don't look down the road too far. Get over your little challenges one thing at a time.

I never challenged my nurse when I was first diagnosed. People tend to do that. But as the process evolved, I realized that my brother and my daughter were not afraid to challenge things. And they were right.

Support groups

The people at the two support groups I belong to now, WhatNext and one specifically for Sloan Kettering, are so positive. They recognize that life sucks sometimes, but offer such unconditional support for each other. It's helpful for you to know that someone else has come through this process or is going through it.

I always start off by telling people that when I was diagnosed, my doctor told me "two months." And here I am more than two years later and I'm still chugging along.

Emotions

I'm a strong believer in prayer. But beyond that, the last thing I do before I go to sleep is list things I'm thankful for that day. It could be something as simple as the fact the sun is shining or somebody brought my newspaper in for me. Little things that I'm so grateful for.

I'm also learning to reach out to people. Once a day, I try and reach out to someone. Maybe make a phone call, or little acts of kindness. They make you feel good.

Until you've had cancer and been through that you don't realize how important they are. Sending that card, sending a thank you note to somebody.

Friends & Family

You find an interesting thing when you have cancer. People either rally to support you when you least expect it or they avoid you like the plague because they don't know how to deal with it.

Conversely, neighbors who I barely knew would come in and water my plants or go to the grocery store for me. It touches you so much.

I realized that people do as much as they're capable of doing, so to bemoan the fact that somebody didn't come to visit or call you is wasted. Don't worry about it, focus on the people that did come to visit you.

Appreciating people more

I adore my family and friends, but this makes you appreciate them so much more. It also makes you look at other people who are maybe complaining about silly things and say, "Why are you complaining?"

I just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's easy for me because I have my son, I have my daughter, I have my brother, son-in-law, I have two friends from college and my granddaughter (you get so much support from a little person). It's kind of embarrassing to say it, but I took them for granted before.

Trying not to worry

I'm a worrier by nature. I think that by coming through this, having confronted death, I should be able to say "Why worry?"

Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.

So I try really hard not to be a worrier, but that's still a work in progress!

Health & Fitness

When I first started feeling better, it was a goal of mine to go out and walk, and I had to start by walking from this house to three houses down. The next day it was five houses, and then it was seven houses, and when I went to the end of the block it was like a miracle had happened.

When I finally did walk all the way down to the end of the block, an older lady from the other side of the street came out and said "I'm so glad to see you!." That does a lot to lift your spirits, too.

I don't like aerobic exercise because I don't like getting out of breath, but I've always done yoga. I think that exercise is a really important part of keeping it together. Sometimes you have to modify it but you should always try.

Diet & Nutrition

There's all kinds of stuff out there that they tout as being good for you, but I think it's just a matter of reasonably watching what you do.

In the support groups someone will come up with suggestions. I pretty much stick with basic, healthy stuff.

Hobbies & Leisure

I mostly do painting - I zone out and lose myself in that. I'm so focused on trying to get it right that I don't think about anything else.

You have to have some kind of an outlet. Whatever you can do to lose yourself in something else.

I took up meditating after my diagnosis. I don't do such a great job, but I try.

I like being with my friends and family but everybody needs "me" time. One of the places I feel most relaxed is at the beach. I feel like that's the only place in the whole world where I don't have any responsibilities. I don't have to do anything except lay there and listen to the ocean and vegetate.

Travel

For the past 10 or 15 years I've gone once a year to St Croix in the Virgin Islands. It's like a family jaunt, we all go. But the year I was diagnosed that all came to a standstill. In the spring of 2014 I decided to try it again. I was anxious because I didn't really know if I would be able to do it, but it ended up being something you're capable of. You don't think you are, but you are.

When you're diagnosed you don't believe you'll ever get better. I thought I'd never see St Croix again, but I did see it again. I felt so good that I'd been able to do that.

It's so overwhelming when you're first diagnosed as you assume that life as you know it is over, but that's not at all the case. There's always hope. It makes you appreciate everything so much and it makes you live your life so fully.

You live every day to its fullest - it's not just lip service, that's what you do.

Work

Not only as someone who's come through cancer, but also as someone who's retired, I have a little schedule of things I like to do. I like to paint, I love to read, and now I feel like I'm entitled to do those things. You have to give yourself license to replace a very active lifestyle with a more quiet lifestyle.

If someone asks me now what I did today, I say "Whatever I felt like." And it really does come down to that. You have to stop marching to someone else's drum and just march to your own drum. Fill the days doing things that are important to you.

Finances

I'm OK, I can pay my bills.

I'm a saver and I'm quite conservative about things. But when you go through this, you say to yourself "I’m only coming through this once" so I'm a little freer with spending my savings than I was before.

Especially if I see that somebody I know needs something and I can in some small way help them, I'd like to try and do that.

See what's out there. A lot of organizations provide help when you need it, so don't be afraid to ask.

Diane's Perspective

When I came home after my diagnosis it was like an overwhelming thought that I was going to have to tell my family.

It took me a while to realize they would be strong enough to deal with it. At the beginning I thought it was just going to be me dealing with this, but that's not true.

You feel so alone when you're first diagnosed. But the reality of the situation is it's been a shared burden. Your family and friends give you the strength you need. They put their life on hold to support you in your struggle.

There are so many good things in this world. Just focus on the good things, and not the negatives.

It sounds ridiculous to say, but I'm grateful I went through this journey. It's given me such a wonderful appreciation of life.

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