One of the initial questions I struggled with when I was first diagnosed with cancer was, "Why me?" Was there something flawed about me, or something I'd done wrong to have a disease in my body that shouldn't be there?

I was envious that life was "normal" for the people I'd see at the grocery store, at soccer games or just walking down the street. I felt weak and small initially, like the people around me were stronger, healthier and happier than I was. But then something became very clear to me.

"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about."

I am a very open person by nature, and I also love to listen. By sharing my story with other people, it made them more comfortable to share theirs. Not everyone (thankfully) has to deal with cancer, but every person struggles with something.

It certainly didn't make me happy or relieved to realize that everybody in the world is fighting some battle, but it helped give me perspective that I shouldn't feel sorry for myself or feel weak.

Having cancer has certainly been very stressful, difficult and scary, but it has also helped me see life differently. I have found strength in that this is my battle, my journey, and that I shouldn't look around thinking that I have it worse than anyone else. I have a wonderful life, and even though there have been struggles and roadblocks, I've become a stronger, "better" version of myself.


Share Your Thoughts

How did you react to your cancer diagnosis? Did envy the "healthy" people around you? Share your comments below.

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About the Author

Jeanette Joseph grew up in Milwaukee within a very close family with her parents, Paul and Judy, an identical twin sister, Carolyn, her younger sister, Brenda, and younger brother, Gregory. Her father is Paul Joseph, who spent his career as our local expert meteorologist on TMJ-4 for 36 years. She was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in July 2010. After her diagnosis she had a thyroidectomy (surgery to remove her thyroid) and a round of RAI -- radioactive iodine treatment. In 2011, she went through another round of RAI treatment after it became clear that she had residual metastasized thyroid cancer in her body, but that treatment was not effective. In April 2015, she went through a left neck dissection surgery after it was identified which lymph nodes the residual cancer was "hiding" in. She is still healing from the surgery, but is hopeful that they got all of the cancer out of her body. Her identical twin sister, Carolyn Wesley was diagnosed with the same cancer within weeks of Jeanette?s diagnosis, so they've gone through this challenging journey together.

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Carol Jean Anderson
on June 7, 2018 - 12:24 pm

The cancer diagnosis is always a surprise. I thought for sure I was going to need rotator cuff surgery. Turns out I have Multiple Myeloma (cancer of the blood). The myeloma cells were attacking my shoulder. My doctor told me right away that this is treatable. Today, after 12weeks of chemo and a stem cell transplant, I am in remission. Having this disease has made me realize how truly strong I am. My Lord and my two daughters walked every step of the way with me. They "acted" brave, but later told me they could never have gone through what I had to. Sometimes it's easier being the person who goes through stuff than the one who has to watch. Life is still good. The day may come when I have to stumble along this path, but for now it's one foot in front of the other. Bless all of my sisters and brothers who carry this cancer burden. CJ