November 07, 2018
Colorectal cancer made me a better version of myself
BY Anatole Karpovs, M.D.
Some people say that cancer changes them. But I don’t think that’s right. I believe it’s more accurate to say that cancer enhances who you already are. It helps you focus on what’s important.
In my case, a colorectal cancer diagnosis enhanced all the qualities I already had that make me who I am. It made me appreciate more of the things in life that really matter and not sweat the small stuff that doesn’t.
More patience and less defensiveness
Before my cancer diagnosis, for instance, I might have spent a lot of mental energy cussing out the person who cut me off in traffic or didn’t allow me to merge on the freeway. But today, I’d rather take a deep breath and just take it easy. So, my patience level has increased substantially.
I also mind a lot less if someone disagrees with me or won’t take my medical advice. I understand that their differences and refusals come from having another frame of reference, and that’s OK. I don’t take it personally.
A deeper appreciation for nature … and love
I appreciate nature more now, too. A sunset or sunrise rarely passes by unnoticed. And I find I can enjoy any type of weather, whether it's scorching or freezing or storming. They all offer lessons in sublime beauty.
Most importantly, though, love never escapes me the way it used to. I still remember times when I was going through chemotherapy that my kids or wife were fighting about pointless matters. I would sappily tear up because I understood that they were only fighting with each other because they cared so much.
Those are the kind of things I never did before having cancer that I never would’ve done otherwise. So, does that mean cancer changed me? Or did it just make some parts of me more prominent? The analytical part of me says it’s the latter. The “take it easy” part of me tells me it doesn't really matter.
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Love never escapes me the way it used to.
Anatole Karpovs, M.D.