Lessons of Chemotherapy One Year Later

Tomorrow I celebrate my first anniversary of my last Chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.   I planted flowers to celebrate as I was unable to plant last year.  As I pondered  this cancerversary in the garden, I realized these Lessons of Chemotherapy remain with me each day.

If you are in the midst of Chemotherapy or active cancer treatment, take time to learn your lessons through the pain and suffering.  They will be valuable gifts to you in the future.  And if you have never been a cancer patient, I hope my lessons can be helpful to you.

1)  You only have so much energy in a day.  Use it wisely.  Plan things that take a lot of energy during your peak energy times of the day and  week.

2) Learn to listen to your body and respect what it needs – exercise, healthy foods, and nourishment from other sources.  Say no to things that do not nurture you or bring you life.  Just ask this simple question:  “Does this help me or harm me?”   Never hesitate to say no to things that harm you.

3)  If anything is not serving you well, people, places or things, begin removing it from your life.  It is a process, but make the first step.  The first steps are difficult, the remaining steps are easier.

4)  Make time for what is important to you and make sure you know what is!

5)  Appreciate all of life each and every day and give thanks.  And when those rough times come, I always say to myself,

“It’s better than Chemo!”

6)  Make plans for the future and dream big.  Picture yourself living life in these dreams!

7) Listen to the still, small voice of God.  He has a purpose for this second chance at life.

8) If you do not have 100% confidence in your doctor, medical facility, or medical staff, find another.  We often spend more time shopping for a new piece of clothing than finding the right fit in a medical professional.  Your life is in their hands.  Make sure you trust them with it!

9) Pray for those who supported you during treatment and return their love and friendship.  Their faithfulness helped you survive and continue to thrive!  Be grateful and show your appreciation.

10)  Begin to forgive those who abandoned you or never went out of their way for you during cancer treatment.  Learn how to be friendly yet keep your boundaries in place when and if your paths must cross.  They have proven themselves not to be friends.  Let them go in peace and remember with love the valuable lessons they taught you.

And check out my cute chemo caps at my store www.hellocourage.com  and other items.  Another lesson of Chemotherapy.  Have cute caps!   Or click on the cap!




  1. Congratulations on your anniversary! The lessons you shared are very valuable lessons to remember. Thanks for sharing those hard won pieces of wisdom.

  2. You continue to amaze me with lessons you are teaching all of us, cancer survivors and those of us who have not had to endure the pain, suffering, and pure hell that you have had to go through. My prayers are with you everyday and praise for your ministry and eloquent gift of being able to express yourself in ways that everyone can relate to in some way, shape or form. Thank you for being the incredible person that you are and for never giving up!! I love you more than words can say. Great things are yet to come. I am going to print this post and try to live my life by your example.

  3. Congrats on your anniversary! I have learned so much from you and I am so grateful to have found your blog. With your help, I too can get through this. Thanks for everything!

  4. I am so glad I found this blog. You helped me with a wonderful email when I had only 1 AC down and didn’t know how I would finish. Now I have 5 months of chemo completed and 2/3 reconstructive surgeries and completion of herceptin after Christmas. I worry that I will get back to life and forget these lessons. I was diagnosed at 33 and worry sometimes about cancer showing elsewhere. I feel this is a second chance at life but sad to have my mortality questioned. You have touched so many. I just wonder if anyone feels like the above. I don’t live in fear but it creeps in esp since everyone seems to talk about breast cancer.

    • Oh Shaun, so glad to hear from you. I am so glad you are done with Chemo!! I remember
      how tough AC was for you and it broke my heart you are going through this so young! Trust me, you won’t forget the lessons even at your
      young age. Fear of recurrence is normal – especially where you are right now. It does get
      better. It becomes like a whisper instead of a drum beating in your head. Sending a hug your way, Denise

  5. Thank you for your site! I am at my 15th day after my 1st chemo treatment. My hair is beginning to fall out and I am freaking a little. I found your site by looking for oils to rub on my head after my hair falls out. I appreciate your suggestions and honesty.

    • Janie, oh that is such a hard and emotional time when the hair starts
      to go. I am so sorry you have to go through this. My hair fell out
      on Day 17, and on Day 18 I had it shaved. Once you get that over with,
      it is easier. But you never forget losing your hair and the emotions…
      Your head will hurt. That is normal. That lasts a couple of weeks.
      You have to do what is best for you, and when you are ready to shave it,
      do that the way you want to as well. Sending you a hug, Denise

  6. I love checking in on your website. There is always good advice and something to help me in my journey. I have 3 more radiation treatments this week. Although I’m tired and have a wicked sunburn, like you said, “it’s better than chemo!”

    • Hi Cathy – oh thanks so much! I appreciate your kindness!
      Congratulations on 3 more rads! Woo hoo! My skin peeled
      a week after I was done. The fatigue lasted for quite awhile,
      but things will slowly get better Cathy! It has been a long
      road. I AM PROUD OF YOU!! Denise

  7. Hi Denise. I really like this post, particularly the part about removing things and people from your life that are not serving you well. As women, we tend to stuff our anger and just “deal with it” because that’s what society teaches us. I really believe that this plays some role in developing disease. The body rebels because we can’t find our voice. I’m working on this advice, but you’re right, it’s not easy!

    • I often hear about stress and cancer but being 33 at diagnosis I feel upset about stress and linking disease. I don’t want to think I gave myself cancer because of stress from life circumstances everyone has stress but doesn’t get cancer. I have learned I need to work on stress management. This is not from a place of anger but frustration. I feel my body gave me cancer not my spirit.

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