Anyone who has been affected by cancer, either personally or through the diagnosis of someone in the family, knows how terrifying the disease can be. Stomachs turn at the thought of it. Eyes well up. Fear sets in. While these reactions are all understandable, it’s important to remember one big thing: People beat this. People beat cancer all the time, and their stories are the guiding light and hope survivors and their families need to keep moving forward.
Karen Vaniver: Reconstructive Surgeon Who Beat the Disease She Specializes in
Sometimes, cancer works in funny ways. This was certainly true when Karen Vaniver, a reconstructive surgeon who had dedicated the vast majority of her career to performing breast reconstructions in cancer survivors, got her own breast cancer diagnosis. Her story is reported in a 2012 Forbes interview.
While Karen knew she was in for a long, hard battle, she refused to give up one critical thing: hope. While Karen eventually beat her disease and joined the strong league of breast cancer survivors, she looks back on her time battling her cancer as an experience that made her a better person.
In fact, she’s the long-time writer of a blog called “Cancer Made Me Nice.” In the blog, she chronicles how her cancer diagnosis helped her overcome much of the hardness that surgeons are typically trained to have. She also talks about how central her community was in uplifting her, and how courage and vulnerability go hand in hand.
If there’s one thing cancer patients and their families can learn from Karen, it’s that cancer may be frightening, but it doesn’t control anyone. In fact, the experience of fighting the disease and overcoming it may just make someone a better, happier person on the other side.
Linda Berlot: Breast Cancer Survivor Whose Cancer Changed Her Life for the Better
According to Linda Berlot, “Breast cancer does not define you; it’s something that happens to you, and you overcome it.” These are words from a confident, powerful woman. Linda Berlot, an Italian native who now lives in the UAE and helps large corporations learn to improve their internal relationships, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43, despite the fact that she hadn’t experienced any breast cancer symptoms. She wasn’t a stranger to the disease, however, as both her mother and her sister had fought it.
In talking about her diagnosis and cancer battle in a 2013 interview with Global Eye, she says, “Being positive for me is not about smiling; it’s about working up the courage to understand that you are afraid, and then getting up each morning knowing that even though you are afraid, you will face the fear and defeat it.”
Two years after her diagnosis and breast cancer treatment, Linda Berlot was cancer-free. Her experience led her to a deeper understanding of herself and to the organization of a non-profit in Dubai called Breast Friends, which specializes in outreach to breast cancer patients and their families.
Hope: Just What the Doctor Ordered
While cancer is a serious disease, it’s also a beatable one, and these two courageous women show that a bit of hope can go a long way toward making a cancer diagnosis easier to manage. After all, patients can’t control their cancer, but they can control their outlooks – and that makes all the difference!