Top 10 Reasons to Be Glad You Have Breast Cancer

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • What–-are you kidding? OK, before you click your cursor on the back button in disgust, hear me out. I’m not some Little Miss Sunshine drawing smiley faces everywhere I go. Nope, I’m probably a lot like you: a normal American woman, overworked, juggling too many responsibilities, feeling guilty because I don’t wear a cape with a big red “S” on it. And yet… there ARE some good things that come with breast cancer. Here are my top 10, counting down just like David Letterman:

    10. You have the chance of getting a tummy tuck, FREE. That’s right: if you have a tram flap reconstruction after mastectomy, the surgeon automatically throws in a tummy tuck. Anyone out there who doesn’t want a flat belly? Raise your hand. OK, I see both of you…
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    9. You make new friends. So OK, maybe these women won’t be lifelong friends. Maybe she’s a five-week radiation waiting room pal. Or someone you chat with during chemo. But maybe this awful shared experience has forged a bond that’s gone beyond cancer to something wonderful: real, lasting friendship. Treasure it.

    8. Your family stops fighting with one another because they know it upsets you. Milk this one for as long as it lasts; it might be short-lived. But while you’re in the midst of treatment, and your children are behaving like angels, and your significant other is vacuuming and grocery shopping and looking at you with new appreciation–-appreciation sharpened by the knowledge that you might not be around forever–-relax and enjoy it.

    7. If you have chemo, you’ll most likely get new hair. Your straight, lifeless hair will grow back in a frenzy of curls. Or your unmanageable curls will disappear, replaced by the straight hair you always craved. How will YOUR hair come back? Definitely something to anticipate. Check out our Chemo Style section to get a better picture of what I'm talking about.

    6. You’ll probably find sympathy at work, both formal (if you’re lucky), and informal. Formally, my company bought me a laptop. Well yeah, admittedly it was so I could continue to work at home, when I didn’t feel well enough to come in. But it’s five years later, and I’m still enjoying the flexibility it gives me to finish up little bits of work and answer e-mails from home. Informally, you’ll find “the bosses” being a little bit nicer to you; not so demanding. Hopefully.  

    5. This is your chance to stop being Superwoman, at least for awhile. People don’t expect you to volunteer to head up the soccer team fund-raiser. You don’t HAVE to put the perfect Thanksgiving dinner on the table. Now’s your chance–give yourself a guilt-free break from uber-responsibility!

    4. Once you feel better, you’ll REALLY feel better. There’s nothing like a little cancer treatment to give you a new appreciation for waking up in the morning feeling totally energized, and without a single ache, pain, or sore spot. Trust me: that day will come.

    3. Now’s your chance to do one or more of those “someday” things you’ve been storing in your heart. “Someday, I’m going to take painting lessons.” “Before I die, I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail.” Not to be morbid, but someday may never come. NOW’s the time to follow your dream, no matter how big (or small).

  • 2. You’ll experience how positive a place this world really is, in big and little ways. Maybe you’ll find your spirituality deepening, as you feel God keeping you safe during treatment. Perhaps the unexpected kindness of a casual acquaintance will move you to tears. Cancer means wearing your emotions on your sleeve for awhile; don’t be embarrassed. Take advantage of it; feel the love around you. And remember, the goodness in people doesn’t disappear once you’re past cancer. You just have to slow down enough to experience it.
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    1. Here it is. Are you ready? The #1 reason to be glad you have cancer: YOU NO LONGER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT GETTING CANCER–YOU’VE GOT IT! AWRIGHT! Cross it off the list.  

    0. OK, so I lied. The VERY best reason to be glad you have cancer is that every now and then it makes you laugh. Like you just (hopefully) did.

Published On: May 07, 2007