Project Think Positive Guest Post: Susan at The Great Balancing Act

You may have read my blog post about supporting The Great Fundraising Act awhile back for my blog friend Susan. If you haven’t clicked over to her blog yet, you totally should. You may not think that a blog about cancer would be interesting. You may think it could be sad. But not only is her blog totally interesting, what I’ve noticed is that it’s not sad at all. While Susan doesn’t sugar-coat her posts about her cancer treatments and updates, she has this knack for looking at and finding even the smallest positives out of every situation. When I read her post about how, after losing her uncle to cancer and finding out about Susan’s diagnosis, she and her family  celebrated (yes celebrated!) with the most beautiful cake, I knew I wanted to ask her about doing a guest post to share her wisdom with you for Project Think Positive. Please welcome Susan to The Chic Life


Hi. My name is Susan. And I have cancer.

I will admit, this is my second go around at writing this guest post for Diana. She asked me to contribute to Project Think Positive because of my naturally sunny disposition. Isn’t that right Diana?

Truth of the matter is, when I laid it all out for you, suddenly my story didn’t sound very positive, despite my positive outlook. It’s hard to make cancer sound like a good thing. And that’s because it’s not. But we’ll get to that.

First, here is what you need to know:

1. I am a personal trainer and certified Nutrition & Wellness Specialist. I blog about these things and my love of cooking, baking, and restaurant-ing at The Great Balancing Act.

2. In February 2011, I fell skating and shattered my left elbow. After a 5-hour reconstructive surgery, I found myself unable to work as a personal trainer and moved back home to be closer to my family.

3. In June 2011, after months of getting headaches and feeling weaker than normal, I get a bad pain in my neck. It’s swollen and the veins in my chest become visible. My mom gets worried and makes a doctor’s appointment against my will.

4. The doctor orders a CT scan on June 22, 2011. It finds a blood clot in my jugular vein. Another scan then reveals a large mass in my chest, along with increased lymph nodes under my arms and base of throat.

5. I spend a month in the hospital waiting for a diagnosis and to start treatment. After one needle biopsy and two surgeries, I learn it’s Hodgkins Lymphoma.

6. As of today, I am four weeks into treatment, having received chemotherapy two times.

7. My hair started falling out this week.

That my friends, is a very shitty situation. There is no denying that. I am not one of those people who will sit here and tell you that cancer is a blessing. Cancer has indeed changed my perspective on life for the better, but I am certainly not thankful for it. I would never wish it upon my worst enemy, let alone myself.

The night I was admitted to hospital and told that I had cancer, I wrote the following:

“Through all of this, I know I need to keep my wits, optimism, and sense of humour.”

That’s not an empty statement. Those are words I have come to live by. From the beginning, I was given a good diagnosis. Hodgkins is one of the cancers that can be cured with chemo and radiation. Yes, it takes a year or two of hell. Yes, it can return. Yes, I may need a stem cell or bone marrow transplant someday. But what is the point of fighting for my life, when I don’t allow myself to enjoy life in the first place?

From the beginning, there has never been any doubt in my mind that I would get through this. That the treatment would work, and that this would all someday be behind me. For me, positivity is survival.

It would be really easy for my to stay in my pyjamas all day and mope around pulling clumps of hair out of my head. But if I were to get even sicker tomorrow due to complications, would I be happy with how I lived my last few days?

Positivity to me isn’t about being annoyingly cheery and optimistic all the time. It’s about seeing the silver lining. About finding small things over the course of the day that put a smile on my face.

And when we’re faced with the big things, like The Big C, it’s about knowing without a doubt that we will get through it in one piece. Okay, maybe two pieces if you now count my prosthetic hair piece.

In the end, what I’ve really learned, is that life is difficult. It’s harsh and brutal, don’t ignore that. But that’s why we need to make it easier on ourselves. In my experience, the best way to do that is to stay positive. Why make life harder than it has to be?


Thank you so much Susan for your wonderfully written guest post! I hope we can hang out again soon! πŸ™‚

And for the readers, be sure to check out Project Think Positive – it’s never too late to start utilizing some of these positive thinking tools and challenges. Here are links for Week 1 {counter a negative thought with a positive thought} , Week 2 {counter a negative thought with a positive act}, and Week 3 {daily positive affirmation/thought}.

Reader question: Do you look for the silver lining?

12 thoughts on “Project Think Positive Guest Post: Susan at The Great Balancing Act”

  1. That was a beautiful read – thank you πŸ™‚

    One of the things I do consciously do is to find things I’m grateful for in my day to day, whether it’s a chat with a friend, a musician that keeps me company whilst the tube is stuck, or people who are doing good in the world in a way that I really respect and appreciate. I guess that’s sort of a silver lining – a silver lining to being able to be here in this world, regardless of how messed up it sometimes seems.

  2. Diana, this is my first time to your blog via Susan’s. What a wonderful project!
    I love that Susan said ” Positivity to me isn’t about being annoyingly cheery and optimistic all the time. It’s about seeing the silver lining. About finding small things over the course of the day that put a smile on my face.”
    I completely agree! We need to take it easier on ourselves sometimes.

    Many thanks!

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    is rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..


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