5 Things I Learned from Having Cancer

Not everyone is lucky enough to have –and learn from– cancer in their early 30’s.


Don’t derive your identity from your accomplishments

When I got sick I realized, sadly, that if I died I would eventually be forgotten and my work-related accomplishments in life would mean very little in the grand scheme of things. I asked myself: if I thought I had one year left in my life, would I regret spending it working? The answer: Hell, yes! So I slowed it all down and started to focus on having more me-time.

Once I separated my identity from my work, I came to the conclusion that what’s really important is having enough money to get by (and pay for medical bills!), and beyond that it’s really all about trying to be happy and have purpose (importantly, healthy people have purpose outside of their own needs and spend time giving back). In other words, do what you can to make a positive difference in the world while you can, and don’t associate personal value with work.

5 Things I Learned from Having Cancer

I’m super careful about what I eat now

What you eat, drink and smell really  does matter

During my quest to figure out that age-old question of “WHY ME?!”, I learned quite a lot about health. I learned that in the USA there are almost zero protections in place to keep us healthy. That means that what you put on your skin and in your mouth needs to be regulated by YOU. Because knowing what’s in your food, what a GMO is and why organic is so much better, why sugar is bad for you, what those chemicals are in your skin cream –and making smart choices based on that– just might save your life someday.

On that note, check these articles out to learn more:

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she lives in Monte Carlo, but spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always traveling, looking for hot new topics, destinations, and life hacks to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 144 Comments

  1. karen white

    You’re story help us to be strong as an individual. You are such a blessing in disguise for us to be thankful and greatful from God! Continue to be a blessing #hilaryrowland 🙂

  2. This is such an inspiring post that is a great reminder and wake up call for everyone to see the bright side and integrate the lessons that they learned into everything that they do for the better. You can move hearts with words and this has certainly moved mine. Such a great read that I will definitely come back too!

  3. Jennifer Kirkpatrick

    I’m so happy you’re better now!!

  4. Christine Wiggin

    Thank you for sharing this story 🙂

  5. Mona Murrell

    I hope you call your mom everyday!!

  6. Nancy Kerr

    How long did the whole thing go on for?

    • Diane Roth

      4 + years 🙁

  7. Katrina Giron

    Life threw you a good punch. I’m happy you punched back !

  8. Ella Rodriguez

    Why can’t we all be healthy forever!?

  9. Mira Kent

    You broke everything down so well in this piece

  10. Sandra Walling

    It really is all about relationships. They’re the best medicine

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