Inspirational Patient Stories

When I was very ill and things looked their worst, nothing was more inspiring to me than reading about how other patients survived against the odds and coped with their situations. There are as many different ways to survive as there are patients, and so we can learn something different from each one. At the same time certain similarities, certain patterns emerge. Enough philosophy – here are the stories of some other patients – I hope you find inspiration and hope in them!

Actually just one more thing first! Perhaps you have a story to contribute. You need not be a “miracle cure” to contribute here – all you need is the desire to use your experiences to help someone else. So read my Story Guidelines and contribute your experience!

I also find wilderness survival stories very inspiring and relevant. Click here or scroll to the bottom of this page for some great recommendations.

Actually just one more thing first! Perhaps you have a story to contribute. You need not be a “miracle cure” to contribute here – all you need is the desire to use your experiences to help someone else. So read my Story Guidelines and contribute your experience!

Quick Links to Sub-Sections In This Page

Kidney Cancer Stories | Leiomyosarcoma Stories | Cautionary Tales | Stories on Other Sites | Wilderness Survival Stories

My Story

Main CancerGuide Stories List

Kidney Cancer Stories on CancerGuide

Kidney cancer is what I have and so I hear from quite a few kidney cancer patients – and so CancerGuide has a number of kidney cancer stories.

Also see My Story

Kidney Cancer Story Not on CancerGuide

Although this story is not on CancerGuide, it is the story of a member of the kidney-onc list. ACOR is mentioned in this story on the website. [PF, 2012]

  • e-Patient Dave’s story

Leiomyosarcoma Stories on CancerGuide

In addition to submitting her own story, LaDonna Backmeyer has been instrumental in asking several other patients with this rare cancer to add their stories to CancerGuide. Hence this special section! All of these patients are members of, L-M-SARCOMA, the Leiomyosarcoma Mailing List. This electronic discussion group is an incredible resource with the most informed patients and doctors in the world. If you have LMS you must join! Please check the L-M- SARCOMA Subscription Page on the ACOR Website .

Cautionary Tales – When Things Go Wrong

Although at first glance, one might think that inspiration and important lessons come only from the positive, sometimes you can learn important lessons from error, mishap, and even tragedy. CancerGuide does not shy away from telling this kind of story.

Stories from Other Web Sites

These are stories I’ve found on other web sites that I think are particularly helpful. I am open to suggestions for stories to add to this list.

  • Laura Landro’s – Allo Bone Marrow Transplant for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (On GrannyBarb and Art’s Leukemia Links)
    Wall Street Journal reporter Laura Landro’s inspiring story of how she survived CML after researching her options in bone marrow transplant
  • In 1983 Tom Marron was told his malignant melanoma was incurable. In January 1985 his cancer was gone – a so called “spontaneous” remission. Today, Tom’s Cancer-Free web page has information emphasizing alternative and mind body approaches, with pointers to other cancer patient stories on the net. The highlight of the site, though, is his own book length story, Cancer Free, The Miracle
  • More than twenty years ago Richard Bloch (The “R” in H & R Block) was told he had “terminal” non-small cell lung cancer. Cancer There’s Hope is the powerful story of how he was cured despite having been pronounced incurable. Mr. Bloch has devoted his life since then to helping cancer patients. Much additional valuable information may be found on the R.A. Bloch Foundation’s site.
  • Molly Martin is a reporter with the Seattle Times who has exquisitely documented her experience with breast cancer including photographs and audio as well in addition to text.
  • OncoLink has an excellent .
  • , an exceedingly rare and lethal form of the disease, was originally on CancerGuide but is now on OncoLink.
  • Esophageal Cancer Stories From Cathy’s EC Cafe.
  • Multiple Myeloma Survivors’ Stories is a huge collection started by June Brazil who was one of my early net friends and a remarkable person. Unfortunately, June died in 1999 but her husband Dean is doing a great job maintaining and improving this site.
  • Shared Experiences is a large searchable collection of stories from cancer patients. Take a look and consider contributing your own story!
  • Eyes On The Prize is a beautifully designed and written site devoted to supporting women with gynecologic cancer and has an excellent stories section.

Three Incredible Wilderness Survival Stories

I did not limit my reading to cancer survival stories. I was also tremendously inspired by true stories of wilderness survival. Though surrounded by people trying to help me, I too felt isolated in a wilderness, though it was a wilderness of illness rather than a wilderness of nature. Reading stories like these will make you to know that if they survived thatyou can survive this.

Adrift by Steven Callahan. On February 4th, 1982, Steven Callahan’s 21 foot sloop sank suddenly and unaccountably, leaving him alone in a tiny life raft in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean 1800 miles from the nearest possible landfall. Through ingenuity, determination, and good fortune, Callahan managed to survive 76 days before finding safety. Callahan writes about his experience with an amazing strength and grace, and despite incredible privation and suffering, he never lost his appreciation of the beauty of the world.

Touching the Void by Joe Simpson. Simpson and his partner Simon Yates had completed an extremely taxing technical ascent of a 21,000′ Andean Peak, and were descending the summit ridge, when Simpson fell off an ice cliff, shattering his leg. Despite Simpson’s extremely poor chances, the two managed to contrive a descent into a howling storm when an unthinkable and terrifying situation developed, after which Yates returned to base camp alone, certain beyond any reasonable doubt that Simpson had died on the mountain. But three days later, Simpson literally crawled into camp only hours before Yates was going to pack-up and leave. His journey back from the dead through an unearthly landscape in extreme circumstances takes on a hallucinatory and spiritual quality. Like Steven Callahan, Joe Simpson found the strength to continue despite extreme suffering and against overwhelming odds. And like Callahan, Simpson is still able to appreciate the world despite his suffering.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic by Alfred Lansing. In December 1914, Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men sailed from South Georgia Island at the bottom of the Drake Passage in an attempt to reach the Antarctic continent and cross it on foot. Only six weeks into the journey, their ship, Endurance, became frozen into the pack ice of the Weddell Sea, just off the coast of Antarctica, trapping them for the Winter. When Spring came, the ice crushed Endurance, stranding the expedition on unstable pack-ice with three life boats and a portion of their stores, many hundreds of miles from the last human outpost. Their nearly two year struggle to return is truly beyond imagination. After reading this book, I know that, incredibly, all 28 survived. I know what they did to survive. But the conditions they endured were so harsh I simply cannot imagine how they survived. Thus, survival is possible not only when it is incredibly unlikely, but even when it is unimaginable! The original photographs by expedition member Frank Hurley are extraordinary, so be sure to get the illustrated edition.

This CancerGuide Page By Steve Dunn. © Steve Dunn
Last Updated: February 2012.