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Ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 1 of 72 women; 14,000 will die. Please know the symptoms and risk factors: read Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. Books at www.amazon.com. ALL PROCEEDS GO TO GYNECOLOGIC CANCER RESEARCH. I am a member of Rave Reviews Book Club and Rave Writers International Society of Authors, and Patient Leadership Council. I WILL NOT USE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE THAN CONTACTING YOU DIRECTLY. ALL ORIGINAL CONTENT COPYRIGHT 2011 THROUGH 2018.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


When I read about Rachel Lozano I wanted to share her story with you. She is an inspiration to me and her courage, self-will, and attitude are all beautiful traits that I admire.

                                                   At age 19, I found out I had weeks to live.

      This wasn’t my first introduction to cancer. The infamously opportunistic disease made a dramatic entrance into my life at age 15, when doctors discovered a cancerous tumor known as Askin’s tumor pressing on the top of my spinal cord and shutting down my body by the hour. Following an emergency surgery, intensive chemotherapy and radiation became my new normal.

      After a year of remission, the cancer reemerged in my bone marrow. This time was even worse. Worn completely down, I could barely walk at my high school graduation. Two days later, I was ad­mitted for a stem cell transplant, which gave me a brand-new immune system. Due to severe adverse effects from the transplant, the skin over my entire body peeled, I developed serious infections, and even went into septic shock. Never­theless, I again surpassed all odds and made it through. While my friends went off to their first year of college, I was relearning how to walk and eat.

      Another year and a half passed, and I seemed to be doing much better. In fact, I even headed off to college. Yet my body was once again screaming that some­thing was wrong. I soon learned there was a new tumor between my heart, lung, and spine. I was told I had a zero-percent chance of survival and was given only weeks to live.

      Three months went by. I was still alive. I realized that perhaps I wasn’t dying just yet, so I took a job at an art materi­als store and moved on with my life.

      My doctors scoured the globe for options, but the experts still concluded I was incurable. By May 2004 – a year and a half later – an amazing thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon relocated to my hospital, and he believed the tumor was stable enough to operate. Surgery went smoothly, and the entire tumor – which was the size of a small Nerf football – was successfully removed. The biopsy results showed the tumor had completely died while inside me, despite very little treatment. It was an inexplicable medical miracle

The lessons I learned through my cancer experience have caused me to be obsessed with life. Here’s what I’ve learned:

                                  ♦ Plan for a long future, but live for the moment.
This may mean something completely different to everyone. For me, it means spending time with family and friends, using my talents, and stay­ing open to new opportunities.

                                  ♦ Practice (and receive) empathy.
Everyone will have burdens in their lives. These things are often out of our control. The only part we can con­trol is how we choose to handle the hard times and whom we choose to help us along the way. Because of the empathy of others, my three bouts with cancer were bearable, and some­times even enjoyable. Help others when you can, and accept a helping hand when you need it.

                                  ♦ As my grandma always told me, "Do what makes you happy."
It’s be­come a cliché, but there really is a lot of truth to it. In my own life, I’ve found that what makes me happy is using my experiences to help others.

                                  ♦ Be open to change, because life is a series of endless changes. 
If your carefully mapped out plan for the fu­ture changes – by choice or by force – it’s OK. Because of cancer, I had to give up some of my own ambitions. Comparing myself to others never helped me. I had to become comfort­able with making my own way. Today I am blessed with the opportunity to speak around the country; I have pub­lished writing, done advocacy work on Capitol Hill, provided charities with donated artwork, and have even trav­eled abroad to spread cancer awareness. I never realized how much my life could affect others.

                                                                      My hope for you is simple: 

       Become obsessed with living your own life. You will be amazed at what awaits.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, May/June 2012            (http://copingmag.com/cwc/index.php/article/obsessed_with_life)


Rachel Lozano is an inspirational speaker, art therapist, artist, writer, Glamour magazine’s 2008 Woman of Your Year, and an Askin’s tumor sur­vivor. Visit her at ObsessedWithLife.com or on Facebook: Rachel Lozano: Inspirational Speaker.


  1. May God continue to bless you with good health and the joy of His miracles.

    1. Thank you for your good wishes. I will be sure to let Rachel know about your message.

    2. Thanks Elaine! I thought I had replied but am not seeing it so I'll try again! I appreciate your kind words and wish the same for you!

  2. Karen - I have nominated you for the Dragon's Loyalty Award for being such a loyal follower and supporter of my blog. http://allergictolifemybattle.wordpress.com/2013/11/26/dragons-loyalty-award/

    1. Thank you, Kathryn, for the nomination. I believe your blog is one of the most informative about allergies. I encourage all my followers to go to your site.

  3. Awesome story...helping others is the best therapy for a great life of recovery!!!

    1. How very true, Amy. You have lived your life helping others, and you still do today. Your health and wellness is a testament to how important helping others is.