By Linda Ryan
When I talk with others who have received a cancer diagnosis, they often want to know my secret: What did I do to survive cervical cancer and thyroid cancer? They are looking for a glimmer of hope.
Give your body what it needs
People don't ask me what I specifically did to beat cancer. Rather, they ask about the chemotherapy drugs that were given to me -- Cisplatin and Alimta.
I often share that I was in the best shape of my life when I received my second cervical cancer diagnosis, as I had just run a marathon. I also tell them that I continued to exercise during my cervical cancer treatment. It was important to me to keep moving and let cancer know what I thought.
Find the right treatment
Another thing people want to know is why I chose to travel thousands of miles from my home in Florida to MD Anderson for cancer treatment. I knew of MD Anderson's reputation and credentials as a leading cancer center, so I decided to go there treatment.
I am thankful that I was treated at MD Anderson. It wasn't easy to fly for treatments, but it was worth it.
Taking time to live during cancer treatment
I also continued to live during my treatment. I didn't stop doing things because I had cancer. A friend told me that I changed what the face of cancer is for her. She said that most people give a sense of doom and gloom while having cancer. She says that I did not.
During the week that chemotherapy knocked me down, my friends didn't hear from me. But as I started to gain strength again, I lived my life like I didn't have cancer. There were plenty of "live like your dyin'" moments with my friends, but the emphasis was on living. Yes, we skydived, and yes, we rode a mechanical bull. But most importantly, we lived -- and we gained a new perspective on what it meant to live.
The way I lived and looked at life during my diagnosis was not a conscious decision. It was the only way I knew how to face cancer. Everyone has to do it their own way. You have to find your own inner peace on your journey.
Linda Ryan thought she had checked cancer off her list. Having just run her first marathon, it was hard to imagine that her cervical cancer had returned after seven years. Cancer chose the wrong woman. She was ready to battle cancer for the third time with health, laughter and friendship. Follow Linda Ryan at MeStrong.net.
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