5 Things That Helped Me Kick Cancer’s Butt Three Times

5 Things That Helped Me Kick Cancer’s Butt Three Times

“How quickly can you get here?” This was the question from the doctor’s office on the other end of the line. I was about to board a plane to return home from a business trip. I was literally boarding the plane when my phone rang. Funny thing was I had already turned off my phone and felt guided to turn it back on for some reason. Ever have those moments? Listen to them! The second I turned on the phone, it rang.

I had a biopsy the week prior. I knew it couldn’t be good news when they wanted me there right away. I had five hours to stew about it on the plane ride home. The next morning I heard the words, “you have cancer.  We need to take you to surgery.”

My Life Changed in an Instant!

My life changed in an instant. I was a VP for a large University with a lot of responsibility. Being a single mom and raising my kids virtually alone was challenging. Add their respective school and community commitments and I was one busy mom. I didn’t have time for this! With a husband (now wasband) more concerned about how busy he was at work and couldn’t be bothered to take me for surgery, I really felt all alone and scared. Ultimately, my daughter, Amanda, took care of me. She is my rock. Still, she was 18 and I know she was scared for me…for our family. The kids weren’t ‘done’ yet! My daughter, Sarah, was 14 and my son, Steven, was 12. I knew I had to be strong for them.

You know the saying that you never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice? Strong was my middle name. I prided myself on constantly ‘doing’ all this stuff and managing it well thank you very much! Cancer changed me. Suddenly, the dishes didn’t matter. The laundry only mattered after a few weeks. Whether the kids ate breakfast for dinner or figured it out on their own, they survived.

We got through cancer and things were somewhat back to normal. Then, about two years later, this body had another cancer diagnosis. This body had cancer again. Same area of the body. I reflected on my journey thus far and wondered why this was happening. I forged ahead and, thankfully, caught it early and recovery was uneventful. Then, two years later, another cancer diagnosis and treatment. Going through cancer once is enough but THREE times. Really!?! I considered myself a positive and spiritual person yet this really tested me on all levels. I thought, well, things come in threes. This better be it!

5 Things That Helped Me Kick Cancer’s Butt Three Times

I did a lot of things to help restore my health and get through this most difficult time in my life.  I learned a lot along the way. Here are five things that got me through:

  1. First Thing That Helped Me: My Faith

hope_TandyElisala_Feb2014There were several things at play here. At my core, I knew, felt and believed I would be okay. I felt this way because I knew my mission in life was to heal and lead others to greatness. I just knew and believed I would be okay because I was still fulfilling my mission in life… God had a bigger plan for me. I also believed I had to be okay for my three kids. Raising my kids has been the single greatest joy in my life. I had to pull all my strength from deep in my core and do what I needed to do to heal. Imagining a life that I wasn’t a part of simply wasn’t an option. I accepted that this cancer experience was part of my journey to ultimately help others. I kept this thinking at the forefront of my mind; along with visions of being with my kids at all their important life milestones. This thinking and belief allowed me to plan and live beyond cancer.

Never let a diagnosis of any kind define you. Click To Tweet

Never let a diagnosis of any kind define you. Don’t take what a doctor says as gospel. Do your own research. Make up your own mind what you will allow and won’t allow in your experience. Recognize you are perfect just the way you are. Have faith that everything will work out as it is supposed to.

Having faith and a deep belief in your ‘why’ helps you live your best life now with passion and purpose.

Having faith and a deep belief in your ‘why’ helps you live your best life now with passion and purpose. Click To Tweet

2. Second Thing That Helped Me: Affirmations and the Power of the Mind

I am awesome text on cardboardI really believe the mind is a very powerful thing! I really, really believe in the power of our minds to be, do and have anything we want. To demonstrate this point, I would like you to imagine putting a lemon in your mouth. Yes, a lemon.  Taste the lemon, feel the lemon and smell the lemon. What physical reactions are you experiencing? If you are like most people, you are probably experiencing some physical sensations.

Now, think about a time when you were really excited or angry about something. Really think about it and what it feels like to feel this emotion right now. Whether you picked a happy or angry situation, you are probably experiencing similar sensations: heart rate increase, blood pressure increase or other sensations. The key is to really FEEL what it feels like at this moment. While the sensations may be similar, the difference is your reaction to them and the effect on your mind. If you choose to hold a negative thought, your mind recognizes this thought and believes it to be true. Additionally, if you hold a negative thought that manifests itself through your physical body, it can affect your blood pressure; create ulcers, etc… over a period of time. If you choose happy thoughts, your mind also recognizes this and believes it to be true. So, why not choose thoughts that better serve you?

Have you ever heard the term “What the mind can believe, it can achieve”? I really believe this to be true and what the conscious mind believes sinks into the subconscious mind. Would you rather have more positive thoughts than negative ones?

The subconscious mind can’t tell the difference between truth and lies. We have tens of thousands of thoughts daily and it can be extremely difficult to keep all thoughts positive. Making a conscious effort to give yourself kudos or telling yourself “I love you” may sound strange, but it can greatly assist and train your subconscious to have more positive thoughts.  When you notice internal negative chatter, say, “cancel” and replace the negative with a positive.

Affirmations are a fabulous way to reach our subconscious mind with thoughts of things we do want. When this body had cancer, I placed affirmations everywhere! When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere. Doors, cabinets, mirrors, books, cars, computer…anywhere I was- there they were. I wasn’t leaving anything to chance! My favorite affirmation during these times was, “my body is in the image and likeness of God and it is now being restored to perfect health.” I had many other affirmations; all related to restored health.


3. Third Thing That Helped Me: Self-Love

“The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. From it, all other relationships are born and they will embody the energy of your self-love – or lack of it. The part we forget as we look for love in the world is that the love we see cannot be greater than our own self-love. We cannot look to others to fill us up on our behalf- there is no one to complete you. You are already complete. All of our relationships are energized and empowered by that love and then WE become the love we seek. Then and only then can we receive love in ways we never imagined possible. “              ~ Unknown


Self-Love means honoring yourself and doing what’s right for you. It means sometimes saying “NO” to things you are used to saying yes to. It means sleeping in or going to bed early when others in your home are up. It means finding time just for you to do things that keep you connected and grounded with life. I had to relearn this.

Self-Love means honoring yourself and doing what’s right for you. Click To Tweet

I used to say ‘yes’ to everything because I wanted people to like me, I felt I needed to prove myself or I had no idea if or how this ‘thing’ I said yes to actually fit into my purpose for being here, contributed to my well-being or was something I actually wanted to do. Exercise extreme self-care! Self-care was huge for me. Anytime I get off balance with this, the physical body manifests something. It’s a process:-) Humor is also really important. Spend time watching funny movies.

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Do what feels right for you. If it doesn’t fall in line with the above or your internal guidance system, don’t do it.

4. Fourth Thing That Helped Me: Gratitude

StabilityGratitude is at the foundation of my belief system. I highly value gratitude and having a gratitude practice was and still is at the heart of it all. I believe gratitude is the foundation to living a life filled with passion, peace, and joy.

I believe gratitude is the foundation to living a life filled with passion, peace, and joy. Click To Tweet

I was thankful for every little thing that happened. At my worst, I gave thanks for each breath that I took, my legs to walk, my eyes to see, my ears to hear. There is always something to be grateful for. Being in a state of gratitude brings more things in our lives to be grateful for. One simple way to integrate gratitude into your life is to simply affirm silently or out loud three things you are thankful for each morning before getting out of bed. I promise your day will be brighter for it.

5. Fifth Thing That Helped Me: Appreciate Nature

 “Nature is not mute, it is a man who is deaf.” – Terence Mckenna

Earth connected
Nature is so healing. You don’t need to be surrounded by water or mountains to take advantage of the healing power of nature. It can be as simple as spending time outside around trees, the sky, the grass or whatever is available to you. One thing I did when first diagnosed with cancer was I went outside and hugged a tree in the backyard. I took deep breaths and imagined being at one with the tree. I visualized all disease flowing out of my body and into Mother Earth. I lay down on the grass and imagined being surrounded and filled with white and blue healing light. I can’t describe the peace I felt spending time with nature. We are all truly one with each other and nature is a wonderful expression of God. I highly encourage being connected with nature in some way, shape or form. It’s so healing and energizing. Here’s an absolutely amazing video demonstrating the power of trees. Here’s a terrific article written by Frank Lipman with a well-rounded overview of the impact nature has for us.


If someone had told me this body would get cancer once, I would have said, no way. But having cancer three times… there is no way I could have prepared for that. I never imagined such a thing. After all, my risk factors were extremely low. There was no ‘scientific’ reason to get cancer. None. What I’ve learned is regardless of what happens in life, it is our responsibility to show up, stand up and be present. It is our response to situations that dictate the outcome. It is our choice. It is up to us. It always is. I choose faith, the power of the mind, affirmations, gratitude, self-love and connection with nature.

It’s your turn: What are your thoughts about these 5 ways that helped me heal? Do you have any others to add? Please comment below!



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Tandy Elisala

Family Caregiver Coach, Cancer Empowerment Advocate and Chief Inspiration Officer at Center for Inspiring Greatness | Empowered Family Caregiver
Tandy Elisala is passionate about helping family caregivers go from being overwhelmed and stressed to empowered and calm. Tandy went through cancer four times and learned how to heal using conventional, complementary, and alternative therapy. Tandy left her corporate career to take care of both parents simultaneously while raising three kids as a single mom. She took care of both parents for 2 1/2 years until their respective deaths. Tandy now teaches what she learned on her journey. Tandy is a family caregiver coach, a multiple best-selling author, inspirational speaker and mom to three adult kids, one angel dog and one diva cat.

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26 replies
  1. Brenda Adams
    Brenda Adams says:

    “What I’ve learned is regardless of what happens in life, it is our responsibility to show up, stand up and be present.” What I love about this article Tandy is that while it was about your personal experience with cancer, you made it relevant to everyone, regardless of what they are currently experiencing. Wow, what a journey you are on! Thank you for sharing this with us. There were some really important reminders in this one for me.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Thanks, Brenda. I appreciate your comments. I agree our job is to show up, stand up and be present. We should all shine our light so brightly and stand TALL! That’s what I intend to do through this.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Thanks, Trudy. Just wait until my next blog post where I talk about my current health challenge and the food changes I’m making.

    • Tandy Elisala
      Tandy Elisala says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Carol. Health is a huge topic and I’m glad you tackle it on your blog. Thanks for stopping by:-)

  2. Mary Trujillo
    Mary Trujillo says:

    I loved this….thank you for sharing. I had an uncle that I tried getting out of his depression when he got cancer, but I didn’t have the words to make him understand…your words are amazing and I will be sharing this post with so many people. Thank you.

  3. Aletha McManama
    Aletha McManama says:

    Tandy, what an awesome story of perseverance through not one, not two, but three battles with cancer! You’ve got quite a story to share. I don’t have any additional ways to share on how to kick cancer in the butt, but I feel I can share with others that may be going through it right now. I know at least two people that are battling cancer in advance stages. I don’t know how I would handle hearing this kind of news if I was diagnosed with it, but like anyone else, I would work my way through it. Thanks for the share!

  4. Louise Behiel
    Louise Behiel says:

    what a story! thanks so much for sharing your strength, vision and hope. To be able to learn along the way when you must have been afraid and frustrated is a testament to all the lessons you’ve learned. those lessons, by the way are good for evey day, in my opinion.

    thanks again.


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