Cancer survivalG’mornin everyone!

Several weeks weeks ago I introduced part one of the ‘Ask Dr. Sheri’ series; a “Q” and “A” interaction where I answer the most frequent questions I receive.  A week later I released part two, and last week I published part 3 regarding my life, diagnosis, story about cancer, and my story of change.

It’s my hope that I can bring some inspiration to you, guidance, or hope.  If you have questions that are not listed here and are just itching to know the answer, please send me a message on my website:

Q: Has cancer changed how you see adversity?

A: As long as I have experienced success, I have shared and helped others in need. But in February 2009, now 41, in the midst of chemotherapy for a recent breast cancer diagnosis, a newly diagnosed potentially life threatening congenital heart defect and still days from the death of my mother, I was now the one in need. Learning how to cope was crucial to getting through the difficult times. Facing the awful feelings increased my capacity to experience the feelings that make life worth living. As a doctor, I have seen people with chronic, life-threatening illnesses struggle with life, death and dying. And now I knew just how challenging and devastating the raw, intense emotions of grief could be because it had happened to me.

As painful as my own grief was, it gave me new insight on dealing with theirs. By the very nature of my work as a physician, I often had profound, moving, and sometimes disturbing experiences, but the most recent ones hit me like a ton of bricks. Those experiences have catalyzed my personal growth, but growth only occurred because I took the time to reflect on the experience, process its implications for my personal and professional development, and initiated behavior change. Reflection promoted a deeper understanding of myself and others.

Q: What legacy do you want to leave the world with?

A: I want the LIVE-Today Foundation to transform how lymphedema is viewed, talked about and treated across the world. Additionally, I want my life to demonstrate to all that none of us were made for easy, but with an enormous power in our frailty. From behind our fear emerges our courage, from beyond our defeat boasts our victory, and on the heels of our struggles, strut our triumphs, manifesting our dreams and visions.

Q: What one word defines you?

A: LIVE. After my diagnosis, I was faced with the harsh reality that I had spent the first half of my life merely existing. Since my treatment, I have decided to LIVE! And for me that means to:

Love myself and others

Inspire those around me

Voice my dreams and ambitions

Enjoy life.

I L.I.V.E every day and as a result I will leave behind a legacy that will hopefully allow others to journey along a path that is not so harsh, not as lonely and not nearly as painful.