Enjoying Life as a Cancer Survivor
- TV presenter and breast cancer survivor Samantha Harris was diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2014.
- Now, she’s cherishing every sunset because she “wasn't sure how many more sunsets [she] would be able to see” after her diagnosis.
- Cancer survivors have told us time and time again that the disease changed their perspective on life.
- One survivor told us surviving cancer “was [her] opportunity to try and get this life done right.”
- Another survivor said she “made as much lemonade out of these lemons as [she] could” after her battle by pouring herself into cancer advocacy work.
With a selfie taken beside a setting sun, the “Dancing With the Stars” and “Entertainment Tonight” host made a touching statement about enjoying life’s little moments after fearing she wouldn’t have too many left when faced with cancer.
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“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, I wasn't sure how many more sunsets I would be able to see. I cherish each one now!!!” she wrote in her caption. “And I plan to be here for DECADES more of them!!!”
We’re so happy to see Harris enjoying her post-cancer life. Finding joy is something our experts recommend when learning to live with your new normal.
And it seems Harris is on mission to live her life in a healthy way and encourage others to follow in her lead. Most recently, she shared tips on how she tries “to live vibrantly” with her Instagram followers.
Here are some of the helpful tips she shared:
- “Find beauty in every day little things (like this view!)”
- “Move you body daily”
- “Get quiet. Find time to breathe. Meditation. Walk with mindfulness. Options!”
- “Get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night (get into a good bedtime routine to wind down – good "sleep hygiene" makes a big difference!)”
SurvivorNet can get behind all of these suggestions for anyone. And our experts have said these types of practices are important for “breast cancer survivorship.”
"Once a patient has finished his or her active therapy for breast cancer, we will often refer to that time as breast cancer survivorship," Dr. Erica Mayer, a medical oncologist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, told SurvivorNet. "This is a time when patients are still being actively monitored by their treatment team, not only to ensure that they remain healthy and cancer-free in the years ahead, but also making sure that they have recovered from any side effects of their initial treatment, and that they are pursuing healthy behaviors for example, getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and keeping up with all their other routine medical care."
Samantha Harris' Cancer Journey
Samantha Harris was shocked to receive her breast cancer diagnosis in March 2014 "even after a clear mammogram."
"It missed the cancer in my right breast," Harris writes on her website. "Two doctors told me the lump I found 11 days later was 'nothing.'
"Finally, four months after finding that lump, I went to see a breast cancer specialist (a surgical oncologist) someone whose main job it is to look at breasts all day and specializes in the detection of breast cancer."
After a follow-up MRI, needle biopsy and ultrasound, Harris’ cancer was still not found. But doctors decided to remove some of her breast for further testing because they could tell "something was not right."
"We decided to take it out," she explained. "Thank goodness, because when the pathology from that lumpectomy came back, it was indeed invasive carcinoma, in addition to the less concerning ductal carcinoma in situ."
Thriving as a Cancer Survivor
- Former College Cheerleader Reinvents Herself After Surviving Ovarian Cancer
- ‘I’m Not Forfeiting a Day to Worry’: Ovarian Cancer Survivor Mareva Godfrey on Intimacy After Treatment
- Olympic Runner Novlene Williams-Mills on Competing After Breast Cancer Diagnosis: ‘I Didn’t Want Cancer to Make People Forget What I’d Done on the Track’
For treatment, she underwent a bilateral mastectomy followed by reconstruction. Her cancer did spread to one lymph node, but doctors decided she didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation.
Today, she remains cancer-free with close monitoring “for the rest of what doctors tell [her] is sure to be a long, healthy life.”
"I remain on an estrogen-blocker to keep any future breast cancer from rearing its ugly head and I am back to all my regular activities,” she wrote.
“Mom to two energetic, wonderful little girls. Work. Hitting the gym hard-core as always. Happiness."
Life After Cancer
Cancer survivors have told us time and time again that the disease changed their perspective on life. Little grievances are less of a bother, motivation to follow a passion is reborn, life becomes more about the living and so on. It’s in these stories we find a beautiful silver lining to a disease no one wants or asked for.
For colon cancer survivor Jovannie Lorenzo, getting to the other side of treatment after a diagnosis at 32 made her want to change gears completely.
“I do believe in being born again,” she told SurvivorNet. And I feel that after having had my cancer, for me, this was my second chance at life. This was my rebirth, so to say.
“This was my opportunity to try and get this life done right.”
Rachel Miller Garcia felt a similar shift in mindset on the other side of her ovarian cancer. Her experience gave the San Francisco based survivor a newfound desire to make a difference for other women fighting cancer.
“I made as much lemonade out of these lemons as I could,” she said. “I’ve turned this into advocacy work for funding and policy in Washington to get more money for women’s cancers. I speak at events throughout the Bay Area and sometimes on the East coast.”