I was recently at a pool league and a fellow player had just had a mastectomy a few weeks before. Here was this woman who had all kinds of tubes coming out of her chest and her very womanly breasts just removed playing pool on Wednesday night  like nothing happened.

But it happened. And I could see it on her face and as she winced to take her shot. What a woman.

The concept that suffering can be a source of positive personal change has deep roots in many ancient thoughts and traditions. But scientific research trying to explain it is quite new. Studies show that after a traumatic event, reports of personal growth are more common than those of psychiatric disorders.

Some people may find, after enough time has passed, that living through or with cancer has helped them to make some positive changes in their lives. The positive life changes that develop as a result of a stressful, frightening experience are called “post-traumatic growth.” Researchers note that post-traumatic growth is not the same as resilience. Resilience describes people “bouncing back” or returning to their previous levels of functioning. On the other hand, post-traumatic growth refers to positive personal change of some kind.

Surviving cancer will change you.

“In my conversations with newly diagnosed cancer patients, I tell them that life will not be the same. Your sense of normalcy will constantly be evolving. Your life will be turned upside down. But, eventually, you will find a “new normal.”  As time goes on, you begin to feel better, gain strength and feel more like yourself.”
He shares the common themes of major changes that survivors share such as your perception of time, reality, forgiveness and what really matters.
“I am a better person as a result of my cancer and these life-altering changes that I’ve shared. I no longer have to prove myself to others. I now know what I can handle and have the ability to make choices that are in my best interest!”
All in all, these survivors prove that what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.