Friday, February 12, 2010

No Sweat

Editors's note: It takes a little while before we can look for a silver lining in our cancer clouds. For some, breast cancer is a instant call to action, others may not change much. Beth L. Gainer however has a lot of clarity!  Suzanne

Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was in a bad place. My marriage was chaotic, and my boss saddled me with unreasonable amounts of overtime.

For years, this was my life.

But I was the one who allowed people to walk all over me and take advantage of me. I knew life changes were in order, but I was too afraid to make them.

That’s when I got the wake-up call of wake-up calls: breast cancer.

I fought the fight of my life and, for once in my life, focused on what was best for me. I refused to work overtime during chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which I had simultaneously. I was terribly ill, and all I could do was focus on getting through each treatment and its side effects.

Within a year after my last chemotherapy treatment, I divorced my husband and found a better career.

To this day, I don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t get me wrong – like everyone else, I get annoyed or irritated by things. But when I start thinking about things to whine about, that’s when I really start thinking: about how lucky I am to be able to eat without getting sick; how I enjoy the taste of food again; how I can go to the bathroom on my own; how lucky I am to have my daughter; how grateful I am for all the special people in my life – and the list goes on. 
Life’s daily trials and tribulations no longer faze me, not after having faced the beast known as cancer. Life’s too precious to waste one minute mired in petty problems.

I got breast cancer, and now I totally get it.

Voices of Breast Cancer: The Healing Companion: Stories for Courage, Comfort and Strength (Voices Of series)Beth L. Gainer has had numerous publications, including an essay in the anthology Voices of Breast Cancer. Her popular Calling the Shots blog at offers information and advice on how to navigate the medical system. She is a contributing member of Medpedia and Navigating Cancer.

You can read her previous article for Loop at  
Image from


  1. Dear Beth,
    Breast Cancer is an unusual "gift," isn't it? It is a life-altering event, and in many cases, strangely, for the better! It certainly stops you in your tracks, everything else gets put on hold. Priorities come into focus. We are truly the lucky ones -- we've SURVIVED. BC has taken so many lives, and we get a chance to continue -- and the only way we can pay that back is to live life to the fullest and in the best way we know how.
    Congratulations on "getting it" and moving forward with your life in a meaningful way.
    Many continued years of good health & happiness to you, Beth!

  2. I love the concise way Beth explained her "transformation".


  3. Thanks, Kathleen, for your kind, insightful words and your support. As a fellow member of the club that no one wanted to join, I congratulate you on your survivorship. Suzanne, thanks for your compliment on my writing. The Loop rocks!