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Tips for Living From a Cancer Survivor

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Florencetipspicfinal.jpgBy Florence Arya

One day I got a call and the woman on the phone said, "You need to schedule an appointment to see our oncologist."

I said, "Who are you? How did you get my name. I don't have cancer. Check with your doctor and make sure I'm the right person."

She asked the doctor and learned that he had lunch with my gynecologist and they believe that they need to operate.  

I called my gynecologist and she started crying. She told me I have uterine cancer. It was found when they did a Pap smear. The Pap test is to check for cervical cancer, but my cancer was so close to the cervix that the test found it. It was a one-in-a-million diagnosis.

I got a hysterectomy as soon as possible and then went to the oncologist. She said that I had uterine papillary serous carcinoma, stage 3A. She said my cancer was very rare, very aggressive and very advanced. In her opinion, I only had 1-2 years to live.   

There I was in the best shape of my life, exercising 11½ hours a week, retired, traveling, having fun with my husband, and suddenly everything was going to disappear.

I am now an eight-year cancer survivor!

How did I survive?
  1. I was cared for by my wonderful, loving and brilliant husband, Vijay. He's my inspiration and my joy. His hearing is very poor, but he always seems to understand me. I need to be here for him. 
  2. I kept moving thanks to wonderful Jazzercise, which lets me exercise while dancing. I do it every day, with whatever strength I have, with loving and supportive friends.
  3. I made friends with another patient and she shared her experiences with me. She understood what I was going through. Unfortunately, I lost my friend. 
  4. Volunteering with Anderson Network allowed me to listen, comfort and reassure others the same way she advised me. I'm happy to be there for others -- understanding their fears and, by my own survival, giving them hope.
What lessons did I learn?
First, know your body. If you notice a change, let your doctor know. These changes could be important symptoms.  

Second and most important, celebrate life and all the things you have to be grateful for. Every healthy day of your life is a gift. Enjoy it. 

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