My Cancer Journey

This post was published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul title: From Lemons to Lemonade in August, 2013.

A Joyful Life
by Gloria Hander Lyons

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer on the right side in 2007, I figured I probably had about five years left. I set about accomplishing everything I thought I might want to do, so when my time came, I would have no regrets. I didn’t want to waste a single minute being sad or angry—those would be minutes of happiness that I couldn’t get back.  

In 2011, when cancer showed up on the left side, I felt I was right on track with my original prediction. I continued my quest to be grateful for every day I woke up, and tried to squeeze the most joy I could out of every one. 

My disease made me realize how precious our time here really is, and that I’d better get busy and make mine count! It gave me the courage to get out there and do things I never thought I could. 

I taught classes on interior decorating, wedding planning, and self-publishing for the Adult Continuing Education Department at my local community college. I didn’t have a college degree, but that didn’t matter to me. I still thought I had something worthwhile to share with others, and enjoyed every minute of it. 

I wrote and self-published more than twenty books on various topics, including how-to books on interior decorating, crafting, and wedding and party planning, plus a variety of cookbooks and humorous short story collections. I’ve never had so much fun in my life, seeing those books go from notes on a page to a finish product I could hold in my hand. 

I started writing a newsletter for my subdivision, which forced me to get out and learn more about my neighbors and the issues we all faced. After learning about my neighborhood newsletter, the Chief of Police in our small town asked me to write one for all of the Community Watch groups in the city. Both those experiences allowed me to meet so many wonderful people who are now my closest friends. 

Since writing seemed to be my new passion, I began crafting stories about my life experiences and submitting them to the Chicken Soup for the Soul editors. So far, I’ve had five accepted and four published. (You can read them on my author website under Sample Stories.) I was thrilled! 

My breast cancer has proven to be a powerful motivator for me. Would I have been brave enough to attempt all those projects if I hadn’t felt my time was running out? I’m afraid can’t answer that question. But my life has been so much more joyful and fulfilling because I did. 

And now I’ve reached the final phase of my cancer journey. A recent bone scan showed signs of cancer in my bones, with a prognosis of about two years. Since I’m now an old hand at squeezing joy out of every day, I’ve started a brand new “bucket list”. 

The first item on my list was a new car, so I can spend many happy hours driving across this great country (with my favorite traveling companions) to see lots of amazing things and meet many more wonderful people. I plan to share those special memories (including photos, of course) with all my beloved friends and family members through e-mails and a blog. 

I’ve also asked my group to send me their suggestions for fun activities and travel destinations to add to my bucket list, and invited each one to join me on my journey. I have had a fabulous life, and consider myself to be truly blessed, but, in spite of my disease, it’s not over yet—more exciting adventures are on the way! And I’ll be writing about them on this blog. 
If you would like to send a suggestion for my “bucket list”, e-mail me: