Surviving Cancer to Build a New Life of Purpose

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Surviving Cancer to Build a New Life of Purpose

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Surviving #cancer with the healing power of helping others
Tuesday, September 4, 2012 - 4:50pm

CAMPAIGN: The Healing Power of Helping Others


When my friend Rob was diagnosed with leukemia just days after the birth of his daughter, he was told he had two months to live and it seemed like only a miracle would save him.  Rob needed a bone marrow donor and his relatives were not good matches, but a 10 out of 10 match was found in Europe and the cells were shipped Rob’s way.  This miracle helped Rob survive, but it was only the first step in building a new life of purpose, reaching out to help others with the second chance he was given, described in Gifts from the Train Station.

Rob went through aggressive chemotherapy, killing the cancer as well as his immune system.  Then, the precious cells from his donor’s marrow were infused into his body, where they were to take hold and build a new immune system for him.  As the cells were delivered into Rob’s arm, his nurses told him it was his new birthday, the beginning of a new life.  More than his immune system was starting a new life that day; his spirit was starting on a new road as well.

Soon after his bone marrow transplant, Rob developed a fever that soared from 102 to 104 and then 106.  He fought for his life while the nurses and doctors struggled to bring the fever under control, giving him cold showers and even packing him in ice.  Finally, tired of fighting, Rob felt himself letting go, slipping away from his hospital bed into a warm welcoming light.  When the light faded, Rob found himself standing in a misty train station, a train waiting for him.  And a figure emerged from the train with a familiar face, that of his deceased father.  His father held out his hand and told Rob that it was time to go, that his room was ready. 

Rob missed his father dearly, and regretted never really getting a chance to say goodbye.  He felt his father’s words draw him forward, but held back, knowing he had more to do still, that it wasn’t time yet.  Turning away, he left the station, and returned to his hospital bed, his wife by his side, calling him back. 

Rob has continued his recovery since then, with ups and downs along the way from taking immunosuppressants and periodic bouts of graft versus host disease.  As he has recovered, he remembers the train station, and all that he learned from dealing with his cancer and its treatment.  He knows now that life is a gift, and every day must be spent on work that matters. And he knows that the only thing that really matters in this life is the help we give to each other. 

Soon we found many others who have been through their own great challenges and reached the same conclusion, finding that the key to healing themselves was found in reaching out to help others. 

Mark Black found this in dealing with his congenital heart defect, and in the years since his heart-lung transplant as he runs marathons and speaks to groups across North America about the amazing path he has taken.

Alyssa Phillips found this when she dealt with her own cancer, for which she was given a 5% chance to live.  Not one to go with the odds, she held onto hope with everything she had and came through the other side to not just survive but thrive by helping others survive as well.

Alice Chan was unhappy with her job for years, but felt she could not leave it to pursue her dream until a car accident made the decision for her, releasing her to follow a new path with her second chance.  Following her dream, she created the REACH program to help others follow their dream as well.

There’s something fundamental about this.  We need lives of purpose and we are built to help each other.  It’s not a new discovery really, but something that’s always been inside us.  When we live connected to others, helping others by working for the greater good, we improve our own lives and our own health as well.

Join us, reading more of the stories of survival and giving, and the healing power of helping others.  You can read more at Gifts from the Train Station.  Also, you can preview the new book on Amazon to see what these inspiring stories might mean for you: Gifts from the Train Station: Healing Yourself by Helping Others.

Thank you!



Keywords: Health | Cancer | Dr. Alice Chan | Gifts from the Train Station | Mark Black | Rob Meadows | cancer survivor | giving back

CAMPAIGN: The Healing Power of Helping Others