Putting Cancer on the Back Burner

father and daughter

I remember being told about my biopsy. My doctor sat down and said, “I’m sorry; it’s melanoma.” I told him he didn’t need to apologize, and thanked him for his work. The news took a while to set in.

Truthfully, it was a chance to learn and grow. My pre-cancer schedule focused on work and building my wealth. My post-diagnosis schedule involved much more quality time with my amazing wife and daughter.

Seeing my child grow is a gift. I never knew I could love someone so much! Cancer pushed me to see what truly mattered.

Here are three ways I’ve put cancer on the back burner and started living my life to the fullest:

The First Step: Reprioritize

After diagnosis, life changed. My normal schedule simply wasn’t going to work (pun intended). Old priorities didn’t fit into my new life; I needed to re-evaluate. I saw what I had to do. Important things fell into place. The rest simply weren’t needed.

I used to hear that health is all that matters, but it wasn’t until I experienced sickness that this meant something to me. Work had become more important than taking care of myself—a bad habit for anyone. I also started to see my own mortality, which was a powerful perspective. Life’s not about material possessions; it’s about having a positive impact.

The Second Step: Create Quality Time

Cancer can actually create more time with loved ones. Since my diagnosis, my wife and I have grown incredibly close, and I feel I’ve grown as an individual as well. We used to fight over stupid things. I have realized that, no matter what, I am in love with this crazy Mexican woman, and she is a star for putting up with my own crazy stubbornness.

Throughout it all, she has been both pregnant and had her appendix out (yes, while pregnant), yet she would help me when I was vomiting. Right after chemo, I stopped eating for about a week, was constantly nauseated, and didn’t have any energy. Still, she would spend all day making me food—but, for all our efforts, I couldn’t keep anything down. She never gave up, and repeated the cycle of trying to feed me, unsuccessfully, over and over.

“Quality time,” sadly, isn’t just spending good times with each other, but about facing challenges together. Cancer treatments were horrible for both of us, but I am so grateful—they opened my eyes to appreciate my wife in new ways. I am even more thankful for our good times now.

I get to spend time with my daughter, too. We play together. We learn together: tying shoes, how to read… She is a wonder. It’s a privilege to be part of her life.

The Third Step: Talk and Share

We all know what cancer is—or do we? The more I learn, the more I understand how misinformed I was. I started a blog, focused on informing and talking about the things no one wants to.

What’s it like? Why did my doctor tell me to do this? Do I believe in God and an afterlife? Are enemas all they’re cracked up to be? In most settings, talking about these things is taboo.

I chose to open my blog to questions, because we are all curious. Thinking about the questions I receive reveals how I really feel. And who knows? Maybe others will get something out of it.

What All This Means

My lesson is this: Put cancer on the back burner, and let it give you positive things in your life. I don’t believe in ignoring what I am going through, but cancer is an experience. I choose to make it a positive one. Everyone dies, and everyone should truly live; this is why I always say cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Since my diagnosis, I have been able to take a step back, look at my life, and set myself straight. Cancer was the kick that I needed to reprioritize, spend more time with my loved ones, and connect with new people. I don’t let cancer dictate my life, but I did let it change my life for the better.

Photo by Peter Werkman

12 thoughts on “Putting Cancer on the Back Burner”

  1. Jorden thank you for sharing this very personal story. I believe that diagnosis is, for some people, a wakeup call. It’s like a good kick in the butt to help us think about what’s important in life and what isn’t. I know because I’ve personally had a kick in the butt recently and it does make you look at your life and how you’re living it.

    You and I are very fortune to have taken that kick positively. To use it as a way of making life more meaningful. To help get us back to what truly is important in life and the real reason why we are here in the first place.

    And you’re right, it’s not for material gains.

    Best of luck to you Jorden and thanks again for sharing.


  2. Cancer will do that.

    About 3 years ago I was busy researching and writing a book when my doc said, “Sorry you may have prostate cancer”. Just short of a year and two biopsies later, the cancer confirmed, I underwent a robotic prostatectomy resulting in what appears to be a cure.

    However the real story is what went on in my mind from the moment of that first conversation all the way through to today some 14 months after the surgery. A progression that is likely similar to what many diagnosed with cancer experiences, now including, for the second time, my wife (lymphoma 33 years ago, breast cancer now). Like you Jordan I too reorganized priorities and my thinking but none more than my attitude.

    To those reading this who have not faced a life-threatening situation: Jordan is right when he says, “Everyone dies, and everyone should truly live.” You cannot dictate the circumstances that will become a part of your life but you can have much to say about how you confront them. Take control rather than being controlled.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story Jordan…it’s very inspiring. I’m sure your blog is a source of support for people dealing with cancer. Communication and support can really make a difference when we are going through an illness. Nothing is more important than the people in your life and it sounds like your very lucky in that regard : )

  4. You are a fighter!! Brave man, I really appreciate the positive attitude. Its good to see the importance of before and after the ilness, although you suffered but its wonderful that you put across such thoughts which is definitely going to help people andwe can learn a thing or two about what we should look for in life. So many questions come up in mind, I feel there is part of sadness which could have driven such extreme emotions and thus making you change your behaviour towards important things in life. Touching!

  5. Very inspiring Jordan… The last line “I don’t let cancer dictate my life, but I did let it change my life for the better” is a really motivational. This post sure will help many and gives strength to fight against any disease and teaches the importance of life. Thank your for sharing this with us.

  6. Thanks for sharing. I to was diagnosed with melanoma. It felt like a train ran me over. Im still struggling trying to make it a positive but just like you stated I have opened my eyes. I see life so very different now and try to take every little detail in. Life is a journey and its not about hitting the goal line and finishing. Its the journey that matters most. Thanks for your story.

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