Welcome to SURVIVING ON HOPE our monthly column from Support Volunteer Debbie Woodbury. Debbie blogs honestly about the emotional realities of life with cancer – loneliness, grief, anger, uncertainty – and the strategies that make surviving on hope possible – gratitude, support, humor, and joining with other survivors at her  blog WhereWeGoNow.

In addition to her service as a CHN Support Volunteer, Debbie Woodbury is a patient educator with Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project and a member of the Carol G. Simon Cancer Center Oncology Community Advisory Board at Overlook Medical Center. Debbie is a ten-year breast cancer survivor, a speaker, and the author of two books, You Can Thrive After Treatment and How to Build an Amazing Life After Treatment.

It’s easy to hate change, especially when it barges in frightening and unwanted. Usually, the first instinct is to fight it every step of the way. But if it’s serenity you seek, you’re only going to get there by accepting the changes you cannot change.

When I’m struggling with change (which happens much more than I like to admit) the following help me see things through different eyes:

  1. “Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert– Change wakes us up and makes us re-evaluate our priorities and choices.
  2. “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi– Change isn’t only something that happens to us, we can and must be proactive if we want to make change for the better in the world.
  3. “If you don’t like something change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou– If you are enduring difficulties, you always have a choice as to how you approach your situation.
  4. “Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.” – Simone de Beauvoir– So many of us put off making changes out of fear of the unknown. The bottom line is all we have is today. If you want to make a change, do it now.
  5. “Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” – Gilda Radner– Gilda faced terminal cancer and came to embrace life as a “delicious ambiguity.” Her ability to face change and all the fear that it brings will always inspire me.
  6. “If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.” – Lao Tzu– We fear change because of the pain it can cause. Think of what you could achieve if you relinquished that fear through acceptance.
  7. “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman – Amen!

The very moment cancer comes into your life, it is changed forever. The struggle is how to accept change you have no control over and still somehow move ahead.

Survival > Existence,

Debbie