The Top 3 Things That Cancer Taught Me

During her time in the hospital, Nicole realized she was living a completely different life before cancer. As she entered her "new normal," she made a list of the top three things that cancer taught her.

Before my cancer diagnosis more than two years ago, I was a completely different person. I took countless things for granted, I stressed out every single day, I had a negative attitude, and I didn't take care of myself – both mentally and physically. I was the type of person who worried about everything under the sun and the type of person who rarely used a sick day at work. I also never took time to 'stop and smell the roses' because I was always in a rush. Life was passing me by and I didn't take the time to appreciate or even realize it.

My body subsequently endured four toxic rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor in Germany. Although my hospital stays seemed endless at the time, I did learn a lot about myself. I had the entire day and night to sit around and think. I came up with a list of things that I told myself to change. When I was released from the hospital's bone marrow unit, I was very anxious to start the list. Now, more than two years later, I can proudly say I have stuck to these three life goals.

1. Be more grateful.

      I learned to embrace life one day at a time with a new positive attitude, and most importantly –'to stop and smell the roses.' Before cancer, I was so busying planning and stressing about the future that I wasn't enjoying the present. Now I make sure to live each and every day to the fullest and to make each day count.

2. Realize that there's more to life.

      Another thing that I've come to realize is that there's so much more to life than working like a dog each and every day. If my mind and body is completely worn out, I will take the day off work and enjoy it. Why not?! I do not feel guilty or worry about it anymore. If I want to go get a massage, go shopping, fishing, or spend time with family or friends – I will do just that. Life's too short so do whatever makes you truly happy and make memories!

3. Take better care of your body.

      Cancer also reminded me to exercise regularly and eat right. I stopped consuming sugary drinks with high fructose syrup and replaced it with lemon water. I started cooking with fresh organic produce instead of eating fast food, frozen meals and packaged/canned items. It's important for me to eliminate pesticides, chemicals, and anything else toxic to my body because I don't want to risk getting cancer ever again. Being confined to a hospital bed for weeks at a time is no way to live. It was a huge wake-up call!

To this day, I still don't know why I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. I have several assumptions but why bother questioning it? My second chance at life is progressing wonderfully because I am happier and healthier (both mentally and physically!) now. Surviving cancer is the greatest accomplishment one can ever achieve. My personal success resulted from staying positive and having faith. I published my private journal into a book to share with others across the world. It's titled "I Kicked Cancer's Ass" and it’s available on I hope it inspires others to keep fighting, to never give up, and to 'stop and smell the roses'!

Do you feel as though cancer has taught you anything about life? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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