What I Learned From Cancer

No one wants to be told they have the big “C”. It’s scary. I get it. I want to offer hope. I want to show there’s life on the other side, you can get through it, and there’s good that can come from something bad.

Here’s what I learned from cancer:

  1. Life will pass you by, if you aren’t careful. No one’s going to stand over you and watch your every move, letting you know when you’re wasting time or focusing your energy on insignificant things. It’s easy to get side tracked and derailed, forgetting what’s really important to you. But, you owe it to yourself to remember. Every day. Identify what your priorities are, and then focus your energy on them. It’s really that simple.
  2. It’s hard to let go of what you can’t control. Life is uncertain. I don’t have a glass ball, and I don’t know what’s going to happen today, tomorrow, or the next day. No one does. We can enjoy our present moment, making the most of our lives, or we can worry about what might or might not happen. What we can control is the ability to make an active choice. Make it.
  3. Surround yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself. No one needs to be around anyone who is negative. Figure out who in your life is supportive and positive, and let them into your world. Ditch anyone who sucks the joy out of your day. Period. Happy people make those around them happy. Unhappy people bring those around them down. You do the math.
  4. The thoughts we have directly affect how we feel, and we can control our thoughts. Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself. If you don’t like it, shut it down. Start being your greatest cheerleader. Build yourself up. Choose to be positive.
  5. Look for the beauty. You wouldn’t think there would be a lot of beauty inside a cancer hospital, but I’m here to tell you, there’s more beauty inside those walls than I’ve ever seen. You see it in the kindness of the staff and the caring the patients have towards each other. There’s hope, strength, bravery, and love. People are looking for the good. Even a stage 4 cancer patient who has lost so much weight his pants are falling down, sits in the waiting room with a smile on his face. If cancer patients can look for the good, can’t you?
  6. Connect with the people you love. The people in our lives and the relationships we have is what truly matters. Take the time to connect to the people who mean the most to you: unplug, turn off your phone, and talk to the people sitting in front of you. They’re what it’s all about.

The bottom line: I’ll never understand why I got breast cancer, and I’ve given up trying. It’s wasted energy. I remember sitting at the cancer center, waiting for my turn. I looked around the room and I remember saying to myself, “How did I get here?” But that’s the thing. How did any of the other people get here?

I’m blessed to be on this side of things, almost two years out, and grateful for everyday. It was a hard journey, but my family is closer and stronger because of what we went through.


Life isn’t perfect, but it’s worth fighting for, even when it gets hard.

Don’t spend your time worrying about the future, or feeling badly about the past. Try to enjoy the right here, right now, and strengthen your resolve to make the most of every moment. And in the end, isn’t that all any of us can do?

Find meaning each day,


Preorder I Am My Mother's Daughter and receive the heartfelt gifts now!


  1. Charlie Massler on October 29, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Dara –

    Great words of wisdom shared with love from your experiences. Thank the Lord that Linda nor I have faced your struggles. But, we have watched three parents and several other family members and friends battle the Big C. Your recommendations seem to fit their experiences so well. They fit all we face in life so well. As always, thanks for sharing.

    • Dara Kurtz on October 30, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks so much for your constant support, it means the world to me!

  2. margaret harrison on October 29, 2015 at 7:06 pm

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Dara Kurtz on October 30, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Thank you for reading!

  3. Grateful for Being on October 30, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Thank you for your bravery. I read your words and agree with them so fundamentally, not just from the point of view of a cancer patient, but using it as a life plan for myself also. It’s the point I’m at toight now, where cutting out the wheat from the chaff is just so necessary to have a fulfilling, truly meaningful life, and wow, it feels great when you start setting the difference between the old you and the new you. Focusing your life on what’s important. I’m curious though….The people who continually let you down, when they get in touch eventually to meet up but on a superficial level, do you respond or just never get back in touch? And if you do write them or call them back, what do you say to them; you’re not interested in the friendship they have to offer any more?

    • Dara Kurtz on October 30, 2015 at 1:29 pm

      I think some people come into our lives but aren’t met to go the distance with us, for whatever reason. It sounds like you might be outgrowing some of your friends. Silently bless them for being there for you, wish them well, and quietly move on. No need for any drama!

  4. Grateful for Being on October 30, 2015 at 2:22 am

    *right now, not toight ?

Get a Free Gift When Purchasing "I am my Mother's Daughter"

  • EXCLUSIVE 21-Day Sharing Journal downloadable print
  • EXCLUSIVE 21-Day Mother Child Journal downloadable print
  • The 3 Types of Letters downloadable print
  • Write a Letter Template downloadable print
  • The Happiness Contract  downloadable print

View Dara's Other Books