Words to Live By

12 Jun

I don’t say this lightly and I’m not trying to be flip. But for me, the reality of how I thrive in survivorship all boils down to attitude and how I    choose  to respond to any given situation. This is such a simple, yet incredibly complex concept, one it took a lifetime of experiences for me to cultivate and embrace. It was also one I needed to hold on to for dear life once I received a cancer diagnosis.

To be fair, I’ve always been an optimist. My husband once complained it wasn’t easy living with Mary ”Frigging” Poppins all the time. I asked him would he prefer the alternative. That made him pause. J How did I come to be this way? I credit a great deal of my attitude to books, and a few simple and powerful quotes that have struck a chord with me.

I happened upon my first book in college while trying to figure out my path, If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else. This book asked me to look at what my interests and passions were, and what was I good at. It then suggested I choose that path. Such an easy premise, that unfortunately too many people don’t take the time to reflect on and follow through with.

“There is nothing to Fear except fear itself.”

Flash forward a decade, to when I found myself not exactly enjoying what I was doing but afraid to make a change. For all the classic reasons, what I call the What If…Syndrome. You know, our self-talk, I would but what if … here is where you fill in the blank with all your fears.  Once again, a terrific book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway appeared in my life, helping me to adjust my attitude and thrive.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt plenty of fear and a sense of no control when I first heard I cancer. But what I was able to do was acknowledge my fear, face it by talking about it, and then educate myself about it, which is incredibly empowering. I knew once I was through with treatments, I could take this concept to help others recognize that knowledge is power.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Once again a decade later, a book became central to my ability to thrive in survivorship, bringing me full circle. However, I was doing the writing. I felt there was a gap in patient education. Even after treatments I kept thinking about this void for others. Rather than let it go, I followed my heart and took a stab at writing it. If nothing else, it’s been very cathartic!

The best advice I could offer for thriving can be found on any of my many Life is good t-shirts.

Do what you love. Love what you do.


As a fitness specialist for 20+ years, Cara Novy-Bennewitz has worked with thousands of individuals. Her focus has always been on education and empowerment. After being unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer, rather than feel like a victim, Cara decided to take her personal experience and develop a guidebook to help others. While there were many resources available to her through the treatment and recovery process, there was not one tool that she could easily reference or access. So Cara created Diagnosis: Breast Cancer – The Best Action Plan for Navigating Your Journey. As a seasoned educator and presenter Cara hopes to empower patients and their loved ones throughout their breast cancer journeys.


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