7 Things You Learn When You Beat Cancer 4 Times


Life lessons from Charlene Morella, Cancer Warrior

ONE:  Carpé Diem,  Seize the Day

It’s a cliché you hear all the time. But when you hear it from a woman who’s beaten cancer four times, it’s not just a cliché. Charlene Morella has always been an optimist. “The original Pollyanna,” she calls herself. Her glass-is-always-half-full attitude was tested over the course of 33 years by four bouts of cancer. “I’m one of the luckiest women in the world. I keep beating it. I’ve got a wonderful family and really good friends. I can see the sunshine in the morning. I wake up every day and think, ‘I’m alive. God, thank you again.’” _DSC8990 The Four: Charlene battled Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1982 for about a year. It was a rough fight with all the challenges that come with fighting cancer; hair loss, weight loss, emotional and physical toil and strain on her family. But she beat it and came out the other side strong, her optimism a constant companion. She was cancer free for 25 years until 2007 when doctors found cancer in her stomach. This time surgery was her cure and she had her stomach completely removed. She had to train herself to eat again. “I can out eat my husband now,” she said. In 2010, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma tested her will and she fought that too. This time, modern medicine had advanced with targeted drugs and she was able to beat back cancer’s attack on her white blood cells once again.  And in 2014, the Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma recurred. Again, targeted, advanced drug treatments helped her beat it. After five treatments, the chemotherapy was becoming too much for her body and her doctor paused the regimen. Then they ran a test and it showed that those five treatments had been enough and the lymphoma was gone. With each diagnosis Charlene refused to give up and didn’t allow herself to be a victim. She chose instead to fight and have gratitude for making it through each time. “My husband finds me dancing in the kitchen sometimes singing, ‘I love my life.’”  

TWO:  Modern medicine is great, but your health is yours. Be involved in your treatment plan. Continue reading