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Power of passion and creativity

A cancer experience can allow you the opportunity to reflect back on your life, make changes and do the things that you've always wanted to do.

The limitless potential which is the basis for all that any of us can and have become is brought forward by our sense of humour and laughter.

Author unknown

I HAVE found cancer patients and survivors to be among the most creative people on earth. Cancer can often bring out the passion in people, serving as the catalyst to help us live and achieve our dreams. Rather than thinking, "I have cancer. Now I'll never achieve my dreams," a cancer experience can allow you the opportunity to reflect back on your life and gives you permission to make the changes and do the things that you've always wanted to do.

In 2000, Nobel literature laureate Gabriel Gracia Marquez said that to have received his diagnosis of lymphatic cancer was an "enormous stroke of luck" that pushed him to write his memoirs. Lance Armstrong, diagnosed with Stage IV testicular cancer in 1996 turned the cancer community upside down with his victories in the world's most prestigious bicycle race, the Tour de France in 1999, 2000, and 2001, only two years after his battle with cancer.

And in 1999, Dr. Jerri Nielsen treated her own diagnosis of breast cancer while working at a South Pole research station until she was rescued by the U.S. Air Force. Cancer does not mean that we have to crawl in a hole and give up. It can be the beginning of a new life, a creative life the propels us toward our greatest successes.

I came home from my treatments one day, feeling rather sorry for myself when I decided to sit down and write a poem. I had never written one before. Here is my attempt:

Prescription for A Cure: Laughter

My life was perfect, or so it seemed
It far surpassed what I had dreamed
My boys were healthy, ages twelve and nine
My twenty-year marriage was doing fine
I had more friends than I could see
For a brand new house, I held the key
I'd cracked that "glass ceiling" for which I had fought
Life doesn't get better than this, I thought.
One day without warning a lump appeared
It can't be the thing that so deeply I feared
I knew as I drove to the doctor that noon
My life would be changing profoundly and soon
A biopsy was done right on the spot
They hoped it was early, this lump I had caught
The wait for results was frightening and long
What had I done for my life to go wrong?

I'll never forget that one day in December
The words as he spoke them I hardly remember
"You have cancer," he said, his words rang in my ears
And before I could stop, I cried buckets of tears
The anger, confusion, denial and grief
To die and escape would seem such a relief
Then I looked all round me, the things that I had
To fight and continue could not be that bad.
I tackled my treatments like nobody could
I did everything specialists told me I should
Friends, family, employers all gave me support
Yet despite all their gestures, I felt something was short
I realised that laughter was just what I need
And once that I found it, I planted the seed
It may not cure cancer or other disease
But it will take your mind off and give it a tease.

So if you're a patient, survivor or friend
And you want to help win that race in the end
Remember that ATTITUDE is the key to success
A good one can do it for you, is my guess
So nothing is ever quite perfect, it seems
Our lives take many turns and often sway from our dreams
Look around and rejoice in the things that you have
Oh yes, one last reminder ... don't forget to laugh!

Can you sit down or stand up and do something creative? I know you can, and we'll all be better off by sharing in your passion and creativity. Do it today!

CHRISTINE K. CLIFFORD

The writer is founder/CEO/president of The Cancer Club and author of Not Now... I'm Having A No Hair Day and Our Family Has Cancer, Too!

Visit her at www.cancerclub.com E-mail her at Christine@cancerclub.com

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