How Can You Be Happy? Dude, You Have Cancer!

Michael H BallardHow can you be happy? Seriously?

Several times during my often frightening challenges with two bouts of cancer, multiple treatments and life-saving midnight surgery, I would get that question.

How Can You Be Happy?

Those were very intense times. I still have the gift of 77 medical clips and several large scars that help to remind me of those years of treatment.

Once, as I was leaving yet another doctor’s appointment, a regular check-up, I was pulled aside by one of the clinic’s administrators who simply wanted to know, “Why are you happy?” Seems, out of the 2,650+ people the clinic served, I was one of six or seven they could say who seemed happy for the most part.

Seriously, Dude, You Have Cancer!

Turns out that morale at the clinic was down, with a high level of staff turnover being an ongoing challenge.  Many of the patients took their frustrations out on staff. They were “sour grapes” to deal with, according to staff members, who were doing their best to help the patients and often, support the family as they try to cope and manage with a very unpleasant illness.

Yet some patients were out and out nasty and hard to deal with. Seems, I was not one of them.

Well, mostly it is a choice.

I Decided To Be Happy

Do not get me wrong; dealing with a chronic illness that was very painful was not easy. However, soon after being diagnosed and reflecting on what my choices were, I decided that it was better to be happy than bitter.

I do not like having to fight cancer. Yet if you do not fight, how are you going to live with the circumstances if things do not work out?  An expression my English grandparents would often use “In for a penny, in for a pound,” came to my mind. In other words, if I was going to fight a little why not fight a lot?

Jumped in at the deep end I did and with the help and support of several teams of care professionals – I fought for my life.

Note I said, “care professionals,” and not health care professionals. There were several types of care teams supporting me – how many and why is for another post.  What I would like you to take away from this brief but thought-stirring post are these questions:

  1. How have you allowed your present circumstances, whatever it is, to define you?
  2. What are you doing to define your current circumstances?

Looking forward to your response. You can comment here and please, share this post with anyone who you think might benefit from it.

Till next time, Imagine Yourself with more Resiliency for Life,



To interview Michael or book him for your event or to consult, you can contact him at:

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Michael was recently interviewed by Claudette regarding his work and a private workshop he will be presenting for Daughters of Sheba Foundation followers. Here is the interview and you can also sign up for the workshop here.

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