15 Life-Altering Moments In The Lives Of Cancer Survivors That Will Give You A New Perspective On The World

The battle with cancer can feel hopeless. For many, even just getting the diagnosis can feel like the scariest moment in life. For people dealing with cancer at any stage, from diagnosis to chemo to just supporting a loved one, stories from others who have experienced cancer can help. So, I decided to ask cancer survivors in our BuzzFeed Community to share moments in their stories they felt affected them the most. Here are their responses:

1."I found out I had cancer while I was 35 weeks pregnant. I had visited my doctor 6 times about hard lumps in my neck. He dismissed my concerns every time and blamed my massive lumps on being pregnant."

Pregnant woman consults with a doctor in an office setting. The woman is in casual attire, while the doctor wears a white coat.

2."I had lymphoblastic lymphoma (similar to leukemia) when I was a junior in high school. I received 733 days of chemotherapy, which meant that it wasn’t feasible for me to go to my dream college 12 hours away from my treatment. I ended up going to my state university."

Students sitting in a classroom, with one student in the foreground meditating

3."July 4th, 2022, the day I will never forget. After a minor operation, I was told I had cancer on my pancreas."

"As [it] was caught early they told me surgery will be an option, but first chemo to shrink the tumor, nine months. [I had] a 12-hour surgical procedure that removed my pancreas, spleen, gallbladder, and left kidney. I’m now a type 1 diabetic, but I’m still here."


4."I felt fine. Nothing wrong. We went out to dinner at a restaurant that was famous for its salads. Of course, I had one; [and then] I woke up in the middle of the night to pee, got up to wipe, looked down, and the toilet bowl was filled with blood."

A fresh salad with leafy greens, red bell pepper strips, thinly sliced onions, and fig pieces in a white bowl, set on a wooden table in a restaurant

5."I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 35. I had a bilateral mastectomy, chemo, reconstruction (twice), and a hysterectomy. So many people called me a 'survivor' and celebrated when I was 'done.'"

A woman in a green shirt sits at a kitchen table, holding a pencil and looking thoughtful while reviewing papers. Pots with plants are visible in the background

6."My son was diagnosed with Burkett Lymphoma at the age of 6. He spent the better part of seven months in the hospital fighting. Burkett Lymphoma is the most aggressive type of cancer; it can double in size in less than 12 hours. He had it in his stomach... when he woke up that morning he looked like he always had, and by 1 p.m. he looked 8 months pregnant."

A young child is bending down to smell a pink flower in a garden, holding the flower gently with their hands

7."I noticed a small skin lesion on my foot about eight years ago when I was 28. I was initially told it was ringworm, then eczema, then a side effect of medication. Over the next eight years, my skin got worse and worse and a horrible rash spread all over my body."

A doctor, wearing a white coat and a stethoscope, sits at a desk talking to a patient. The patient's back is to the camera. Medical supplies and a laptop are on the desk

Continued: "I had multiple biopsies over the years that came back as dermatitis. Finally, I was recommended to a dermatologist who tested me for a very rare cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. It is slow-growing and I was told the average time it takes to get diagnosed is six or seven years. I was so relieved to have a diagnosis, even if it was cancer. Not knowing [for] all those years was so much worse."

A woman holds her stomach while talking to a doctor in a white coat holding a clipboard

8."I am a childhood leukemia survivor. My mom's first cousin has always been a grandmother-like figure in my life. A couple weeks after my diagnosis, she came over to cook chicken soup from scratch."

A bowl of soup with noodles, meatballs, and herbs garnished on top

9."I am 78 years old and at the age of 70, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Positive by nature and diligent with testing from age 50, after two biopsies, the word 'cancer' set me spinning."

An older man with a white beard and mustache wearing a blue shirt is smiling while walking on a treadmill indoors

10."I'll never forget when I answered the phone at work, when my doctor called and asked if it was a good time to talk. My heart immediately started pounding and my stomach sank. The words 'You have breast cancer' came out of her mouth and I immediately burst into tears."

A woman with blond hair tied back, wearing a white top and gray apron, is on a phone call outdoors in a relaxed setting with plants in the background. Names unknown

11."I was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 40. I thought I had a hernia due to the amount of physical labor I was doing the last few years. My left one was the size of an orange and was interfering with walking. As soon as I saw my doctor's face I knew it wasn’t good!"

A man and a woman smiling at each other with the woman embracing the man from behind

12."I learned I had a cancer mass on my kidney the morning my husband died of skin cancer. My daughter found a lump in her breast around the same time; she died after five years. I am okay, after losing part of [my] right kidney; I didn’t wait to have surgery. I am learning how to live alone."


13."Went in for a routine mammogram on a Monday, [was] told to come back the next day for a biopsy, found out the next day I had breast cancer."

A healthcare professional gives a mammogram to a patient wearing a gown

14."I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 34. My family and I were (naturally) stunned. I was single, going to school, and working full time. What got me through the chemotherapy, hair loss, and 6 weeks of radiation was that I was just pissed off."

"I had so much support and love shown to me, but I was still angry at this stupid, life-altering illness. I remember it was Christmas time and I couldn’t walk up the stairs in my house because I was so weak from chemo. I stopped at every step and said 'I won’t let this beat me.' And it didn’t. It will be 20 years in October."


15.And finally: "May 15th, 2005 was a rough day! After some very routine bloodwork the day before, a doctor called me in a major panic at 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, asking bizarre questions like 'Are you bleeding right now?' or, 'I hope you're not going to be playing any sports that are going to cause bruising or bleeding.'"

A man with short hair and beard is on the phone, looking down pensively while wearing a shirt

There are some very heavy, and some hopeful, stories here! Hopefully, for some people, this was a bit therapeutic. If you need to vent or want to share your own story, please feel free to do so down below (or, if you like, through this anonymous Google Form).

Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.