5 Things I Learned from Having Cancer

Not everyone is lucky enough to have –and learn from– cancer in their early 30’s.


Not everyone is lucky enough to get –and beat– cancer in their early 30’s. Sound like a strange thing to say? I don’t think it is. Let me explain why.

5 Things I Learned from Having Cancer

After surviving cancer, I’m still sometimes afraid of dying young, but I have a lot more clarity around many areas of my life.

I’d been feeling low-energy for a few months, and had been getting crazy 4-day-long crippling migraines. That, coupled with an itchy rash that kept me up all night every night scratching, had me feeling like I was in my early 80’s, not my early 30’s. I went to see doctor after doctor who prescribed various pharmaceuticals that did nothing to make me feel better — or only helped temporarily. Two doctors even insisted that I had “chronic Lyme Disease” and tried to get me to go on aggressive courses of antibiotics (which I declined, I’m happy to say).

Finally, after over a year of this, I learned that I’d have to take my health into my own hands if I was to get better, and I started doing a ton of online research. I’d like to say it was me who figured out that I had cancer, but it was, in fact, my mother’s startlingly effective research skills that cracked this case almost a year and a half after I first got sick, and started me on my long journey of recovery.

5 Things I Learned from Having Cancer

Me, getting yet another round of tests

Here are five reasons why –although having cancer was certainly a harrowing experience not only for me, but for my family– I actually feel lucky to have gone through it:

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Avatar of Hilary Rowland

A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 144 Comments

  1. Avatar of karen white

    karen white

    You’re story help us to be strong as an individual. You are such a blessing in disguise for us to be thankful and greatful from God! Continue to be a blessing #hilaryrowland 🙂

  2. Avatar of Faye

    This is such an inspiring post that is a great reminder and wake up call for everyone to see the bright side and integrate the lessons that they learned into everything that they do for the better. You can move hearts with words and this has certainly moved mine. Such a great read that I will definitely come back too!

  3. Avatar of Jennifer Kirkpatrick

    Jennifer Kirkpatrick

    I’m so happy you’re better now!!

  4. Avatar of Christine Wiggin

    Christine Wiggin

    Thank you for sharing this story 🙂

  5. Avatar of Mona Murrell

    Mona Murrell

    I hope you call your mom everyday!!

  6. Avatar of Nancy Kerr

    Nancy Kerr

    How long did the whole thing go on for?

    • Avatar of Diane Roth

      Diane Roth

      4 + years 🙁

  7. Avatar of Katrina Giron

    Katrina Giron

    Life threw you a good punch. I’m happy you punched back !

  8. Avatar of Ella Rodriguez

    Ella Rodriguez

    Why can’t we all be healthy forever!?

  9. Avatar of Mira Kent

    Mira Kent

    You broke everything down so well in this piece

  10. Avatar of Sandra Walling

    Sandra Walling

    It really is all about relationships. They’re the best medicine

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