By heatherericksonauthor.comThe Erickson Family

How Cancer has Changed My Life: Resilience

How Cancer has Changed my life

We’ve been looking at resilience. Part of resilience is being able to look at how you’ve responded to a trial such as cancer. How has it changed you or your life—both for the better and the worse?  If you asked me how cancer has changed my life, I might tell you that I smile less. I know that’s not the “right” answer, but it is the honest answer. When Dan was first diagnosed there was a time of despair. It was like the world was ending. In truth, it was just our world, as we knew it, that was ending.

Cancer has changed my life

We learned to live with it. We adapted, became stronger in many ways. It progressively gots harder but we learned how to endure and even overcome everything it threw at us: Good news, bad news, scans and labs, doctors who promise and doctors who doubt, fair-weather friends, compassionate strangers, pain, drugs, changed appearance, changed personalities, fear, faith, the pit of despair, overwhelm, withdrawal and solitude, loss—all of it changing the dynamic of our family and who you were.

We made memories whenever we could.

We never passed up a good opportunity to do things as a family because we knew that they were limited. That intentional way of living is something we began long before the diagnosis. We were making up for lost time.

Dan and I met later in life. Somehow, we managed to find our perfect match in one another. We didn’t agree on everything, but we agreed on the important things. We respected one another and cared for one another well. We also knew what a gift that was and didn’t take it for granted. He was my best friend and I was his.

How cancer has changed my life
2012 Pre-Cancer – 2019 Hospice

Our Daughter, Sam

Early on in the first weeks of our marriage, we had just finished praying with the kids before bedtime. Our daughter Sam looked at Dan and said, “Daddy, What took you so long to find us? We waited for you for so long!” In her child’s innocence, she summed up a real truth. We had waited for him. When he came into our lives, we became a cohesive unit. Now that he’s gone, nothing feels right.

Cancer has changed my life,

But that doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped living and holed myself up in my bedroom. Early on, I thought that’s what I would do, but when Dan died it didn’t seem right. So many people had been so good to us. I made friends that I didn’t want to neglect. This introvert has actually become somewhat social. It’s ironic that I have much less time now that I’m a single mom, but I have so much more that I want to do. So, I have to make the most of it.

Cancer has changed my life for the worse, definitely. But the people I have gotten closer to because of it have been a gift. And, watching my husband—how he handled his life before cancer, with cancer, and as he was dying—that changed me forever, mostly for the better. I have become more resilient.

How has cancer changed you and your life?


There is so much more that could be said about this, but I will leave that up to you, my readers. Tell me your thoughts in the comment section, below. I appreciate my readers as well as the writing community. To show that appreciation, I use Comment Luv. Just leave a comment below and your latest post will get a link next to it. Thank you!

facing cancer as a parent

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Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer


In 2012 doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan, with stage IV lung cancer. Since then, our family has been learning what it means to face cancer. I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. My goal is to help people face cancer with grace.

My book Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, is available on

Also, check out Facing Cancer as a Parent: Helping Your Children Cope with Your Cancer.

Also, put your memories into words with The Memory Maker’s Journal.

I also blog at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker

Have any questions or comments? I would love to hear from you! By commenting, you agree to the terms of my privacy policy.

2 comments on “How Cancer has Changed My Life: Resilience

thank You for shearing this inspiring article
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You’re welcome, Deepak. Thank you for stopping by!

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