11 positive things cancer gave me

Jenni Eyles from Styling Curvy, shares 11 positive things that cancer taught her about life. 

For some, cancer can be a heavy ride and it's quite easy to get lost in the spiraling doom and gloom. But having a positive mindset and looking at life with a 'glass half full' attitude can be a game changer. 

I often tell people 'cancer was a gift', which can raise a few eyebrows, but for me it really was. I choose not to concentrate on the negatives but instead I choose to try to focus instead on the positives - the 'silver linings' if you like. 

Here are 11 positive things that cancer gave to me:

1. I don't sweat the small stuff

It's easy to get caught up in drama and even create some yourself but since being diagnosed with cancer I choose my battles. 

It's easier to let the car enter your lane or smile at the person who made an ignorant (harmless) comment than it is to engage in futile arguments. If it's going to unnecessarily raise my blood pressure I choose to rise above it and just 'keep swimming'.  

2. I don't tolerate crap

In saying the above, these days I stand up for myself more and also for others. There's no need to be rude, but calling out people on their poor form and walking away from drama or situations that don't feel good actually feels great! 

3. I value myself

There was a time when I worked too many hours, spoke poorly of my body, allowed people to take up too much of my time and generally didn't put myself first. These days I value myself more and I now live my life in a far more positive way. I've introduced healthier habits for my mind, body and relationships and changed my work life. 

4. I parent with looser apron strings

Oh, it's a hard one but when I found out how fragile life really was, I found it impossible to ask my kids to live a life that isn't fully serving them well. Sure, I still parent, but I choose my battles. I ask myself if my parental decision making is serving them, or if it is actually appeasing me. Too often we steer our kids in a particular direction because it's 'the right thing to do' or because society expects it of us. But is it actually making your kids happy? If not, it might be time to revisit your parenting approach. 

5. I love my body

I can unashamedly, wholeheartedly say - I love my body. My body was ravaged by cancer. Surgeries and treatment changed how my body looks and feels. But these days I love every cell of my body. I believe that my body feels what my mind thinks. So these days I speak kind words to my body, I show it gratitude by leading a mostly balanced life and I feel gratitude for what it can do instead of hating on it for what it can't do. By changing my internal dialogue and old habits of the past I now see my body in a whole new light, this body of mine is not here for anyone else. This body of mine is extraordinary and it's allowing me to live a ridiculously awesome life! 
Follow your dreams

6. I'm following my dreams

Returning to work in the same capacity after treatment wasn't an option for me, ongoing surgeries and a change of priorities meant I had to think outside the square. As it turns out I love to write and have forged a new business as a blogger. Creating a community online has been a gift, one I'm grateful for every single day.

7. I have more tolerance and empathy

I thought I was fairly tolerant and empathetic before I was diagnosed with cancer but we all have room to be more caring.

These days I'm not easily rattled, I understand that stress can sometimes make my body react in a negative way so I choose not to invite it into my life. I choose my words more carefully and breathe deeper in situations that could upset me. There is always someone going through something, their 'story' is just as valid as my cancer and showing them empathy could make the difference between them having a bad day or a good day.

8. I live in the now

Life can get busy, I get it. It's easy to get caught up in your daily routine but being diagnosed with cancer can give you a glimpse of how short life can be.

For me I now choose to live in the now. These days I'm doing 'all' the things I wanted to do but never found time for. I’m also doing things that I never knew I wanted to do. I'm having a crack and enjoying new challenges like stand up paddle boarding, catching a plane on my own, mastering technology, heading to the beach at midday (or midnight) to take in some sea air or simply catching up with friends more often.

Your list might look different to mine but the points is, take some time to really plug into your life and live in the now.

9. I say 'yes' to what matters and 'no' to what doesn't

This is a big one and for me and I found it life changing. Saying 'yes' more often to the things that light you up means can help you live your best life. On the flip side, finding the courage to say 'no' to all the things that steal time from the things you love doing is also important. This can help you feel more in control and overall become a happier person.

10. I'm less selfish

Cancer taught me a thing or two and one thing I'm grateful for was learning that life wasn't all about me. Sounds glaringly obvious right? Of course, but when I was caught up in the daily grind of work and parenting I didn't give my actions the attention I needed to. Empathy and tolerance have taught me to be less selfish and to consider others more often.

11. I love yoga!

Now there's a statement I never thought I would make, but these days I practice Dru Yoga a few times a week. After cancer it's common to want to do 'all' the things to create a healthier you. In theory that's great, but the reality is you can't do everything and certainly not all at once. For me I choose to make small changes when and where I could, and introducing yoga was a change that worked for me. Yoga gives me the mind, spirit and body connection that helps me to live a more conscious and healthier life.

If you've got a good news story, we'd love to hear from you on our facebook page! #SharingHappiness. 


At Bupa, we’ve teamed up with the McGrath Foundation to support breast cancer awareness and the work of McGrath Breast Care Nurses.

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