There is LOTS of Relapse Going On … How to Thrive and Not Worry

What do Robin Roberts, Sheryl Crow, Diem Brown (of the Challenge), Eddie van Halen Nora Ephron have in common?

Well, all have had cancer and are “known.” Robin, Eddie and Diem have had recent relapses. Sheryl has been diagnosed with a non-malignant brain tumor (after breast cancer a few years back) and Nora died this week of leukemia.

As someone myself who has experienced cancer, it’s disconcerting to read about relapses and loss of life to this insidious disease. I know it’s always looming in the background. How can it not? Memories of surgeries, chemotherapy treatments, radiation and severe exhaustion for months and months loom as well.

However, I can’t live in the “past” of what’s happened. Nor can I live in the “future” of what might happen. I’d be schizophrenic, never want to leave my apartment, babbling with anxiety and fear. Where would that get me? Well, probably right into relapse… or mental illness for sure.




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Why Do Doctors Need Patient Advocates?

I’ve been thinking a great deal about what doctors can learn from their patients. Of course, I only know that from my perspective as a patient and others that have shared their thoughts with me. Here are some initial thoughts (with more to follow in more posts):

First, doctors are very busy. They have Managed Care companies breathing down their necks to see as many patients as possible in an hour. They care about their patients but just don’t have time to engage beyond the absolute medical questions, checkups, etc. So, how can patients explain to them what’s really going on?

1. Have patients meet ahead of time with a nurse practitioner or an office advocate who can really ask them what’s going on.

2. Have a truly compassionate questionnaire that the patient can quickly fill out. It might include, physical, emotional, career, family and other concerns. Remember, everything a patient is experiencing influences the healing process. It’s a “whole person” approach.

3. Expand your time with your patient by even just 5 minutes and ask them questions based on the above.

Second, provide patients with up-to-date data … perhaps videos they can watch in your waiting room or that they can take home on a DVD. Such videos can explain all that they can expect.

Third, have someone in the office that can be an email conduit for patients to communicate with so their concerns are heard.

And lastly, as a physician or nurse or other provider, listen to your patients from a position of “what if this were me?” Put yourself in their shoes.

That’s an initial rendering of thoughts … remember, more to come. And, comments welcome.

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Thoughts About Thriving on this Memorial Day

The thoughts I’m having today are “odd” in light of what we are showing recognition of today. Many men and women voluntarily (and some not) joined the military to serve their country. Whether they chose to or were drafted, they went to fight wars on foreign soil. Some returned and many did not. Even those who returned were scarred tremendously by their experience — physically and/or mentally.  We honor them all  today.

Many individuals developed or experienced circumstances that took their bodies or their souls through personal “wars” of some sort. Some survived and some didn’t. What’s the commonality?

First, families were torn apart by those being away in service, being lost in action. Families are torn about by death, accidents, illness — circumstances that befall them, without choice.

Second, in either case there is a call for resiliency .. a call to spring back, to adapt, to get into the flow of life once again.

Third, for those who died in service, they would (I think) want us to do whatever it takes to live in whatever time we have…. to enjoy the moments, to love our families.

So, now once more, develop ways to add more “thriving” to your life? How can you acknowledge yourself and your family for the challenges you’ve faced?

Just wanted to share these thoughts.

And, once again, a sincere thank you to all who have fought for our rights!


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What it Takes to Be a “Thriver.”


This is my first official blog post on this new site. I’m excited.

If truth be known, I want everyone out there who has experienced some major illness or setback to empower themselves to “thrive” … to go beyond what they thought possible at the when the difficult experience happened. While that might sound a bit unrealistic, it’s do-able.

How to start?

First, acknowledge that this thing has happened — a diagnosis, a significant loss of a loved one, a major job loss, a horrible accident, etc.

Second, once you take the steps needed in the initial phase — surgery, treatment, grief, physical therapy, etc, begin to talk to yourself about how you expect to come through this “thing.” I’m not talking positive psychology, I’m talking reassurance, tapping into present-moment awareness, searching for how to respond in a way that is empowering.

Third, although it might sound contradictory to #2, you also have to allow yourself to have the feelings of doubt, concern, worry, sadness and grief as they well up inside you. Feel them, then let them pass and go back to step #2.

Fourth, reach out to all you know who love you and care about you and surround yourself with the support you want and need. Let others in.

Fifth, as the situation begins to calm, resolve, or even if it moves into a chronic state or even if it’s a “not good” diagnosis, then start to LIVE to the fullest extent anyhow. Don’t put off the things you want to do, but rather experience life. Take it a day at a time and immerse yourself in what would feel good each moment. In other words, take on “thriving” as much as your body and mind allow you to. Perhaps do things you’ve never done, go places you’ve never gone.

And, when you feel you are a “thriver,” join our list and share your words of how you are thriving here on this website for others to learn from and appreciate.

I welcome you again and look forward to your comments.



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Welcome to the I Am A Thriver Blog!

This is where we will post updates and new information that we think is useful and will help others. We look forward to having conversations with all of you!

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