I recognize that I have a somewhat unusual perspective about cancer and brain injury. Many people suggest that cancer and brain injury are terrible and should be eradicated at any cost. Please allow me a moment to explain why I disagree. There are many undeniable downsides to cancer and brain injury (including the possibility of depression, aphasia, paralysis, removal of body parts, and death), but there are also many benefits (including the possibility of happiness, a new beginning, a new perspective on life, a renewed spiritual belief, and a sense of purpose). I am not suggesting that cancer or brain injury will be a great experience for everyone. Nor am I suggesting that everyone should go out of their way to obtain a life-threatening cancer, brain injury, or adversity. However, I do believe that if you have any form of life-threatening injury, illness, or disease there are benefits that should not be overlooked.

I offer the following two examples that occurred several years prior to the discovery and treatment of my cancer and brain injury. I recognize there is a possibility that I had un-diagnosed cancer and brain injury at the time of the following events, but let’s not allow an unknown possibility disrupt the explanation.

While I was talking with a friend recently, I was reminded about an event that took place more than 10 years ago. The requirements seemed simple – while house sitting for a weekend, I needed to keep the house clean and prevent the two teenage daughters from killing each other or destroying their mom’s house. Everything was going well until Sunday afternoon when I loaded the dishwasher, added soap to the dishwasher tray, and started the machine. An hour or so later, when I returned to empty the dishwasher, I saw a thick layer of bubbles covering a significant portion of the hardwood floor. I was not planning to host a rave. You guessed it . . . I used the wrong type of soap.

Several years later, while washing my clothes at another house, bubbles from the washing machine overflowed the utility sink and spilled onto the utility room floor. Unfortunately, the homeowner was not out of town and she discovered the problem before I did. In my defense, I had never seen a washing machine that drained through a utility sink and I did not know how to use the machine. It never occurred to me that there might be a difference between machines I had used, and one I had never seen. If you guessed that I used too much soap, you are correct.

I shared the two stories because they support my belief that I am better off now than before the cancer and brain injury were detected. I made mistakes with a dishwasher and washing machine prior to brain injury because I was not taught the proper skills in elementary school, junior high school, high school, college, or graduate school. However, because I spent years in cognitive therapy post cancer and brain injury, I have not made similar mistakes. Therefore, cancer and brain injury are directly responsible for the improvement in my dish washing and clothes washing skills.

Even though there may be a flaw or two in my reasoning, the fact remains there is no point being upset about something you cannot change. Simply smile about what occurred in the past and work toward a better tomorrow.

Thanks to DIYAdvice.com for the picture of a washing machine that drains to a utility sink.

Click here to read another Beyond Adversity post.


  1. Tiny bubbles! I love the title on this one. It was 7 years after my stroke before a doctor told me I had a brain injury. I knew something was wrong but did not know how to explain it or respond to it. Now, fifteen years since my stroke, I sometime still grieve over the loss of my prior life. However most days, I realize the long list of benefits. For me that includes a strong relationship with my grandkids which I believe I would not have experienced if I’d still been working crazy long hours.

    1. Cheryl, when I describe my adversity as a gift, many people stare at me as if I have three heads. If refer to it as a gift because I now have time to do the things I enjoy rather than the work I was expected to complete during my 80-hour work weeks. I no longer drive which means I no longer have to worry about car payments, car insurance, gas, maintenance, warranties, tickets, etc. I view each day as an opportunity to learn rather than an opportunity to take what I have for granted. I am thankful for what I have, what I can do, and the people who I encounter. Prior to my injury, I was simply too busy to enjoy life.

    1. Norm,

      Now that I have experienced cancer and a brain injury, I am ready to take on the toughest of tasks involving machines and soap. Bring it on!


  2. I have a 51 yr.old daughter that is in 12 yrs in remission of Brain cancer.She is left w/short term memory loss,cognitive dysfunction& loss of common sense& multitasking.She has her long term memory.She thinks she can do what she did 12 yrs.ago.She can’t.She is physically healthy in all aspects.She defines her self as brain cancer& I keep telling her she doesn’t have it.She doesn’t do anything to help herself.I know she is depressed ,but she is on meds.She won’t move on.I am at my wits end w/ her as I have done everything I can for her.She is on disability ,but that doesn’t pay her bills.I know she can get a small job ,but she goes back to what she did 12 yrs,ago.She can’t do it.I can’t keep paying her bills as I am on s.s myself.I don’t to want to lose my savings as I am a widow for 24 yrs& left w.no insurance.She just doesn’t seem to get it or care.I am getting to resent it.I live very frugally so I can give her money to pay her bills.She can’t live w/me& truthfully I don’t want her to.I read all the TBI sites & brain cancer sites& fell I feel she is so lucky to not suffer any of these problems they do.We live in Florida& she gets $50 a month in food stamps.DisgustingI brought her down here from N.Y. because she couldn’t handle her life& got herself in deep debt.Because of her long term she thinks she can go back& resume the life she had.She tortures me every day about this.I really can’t take this any more.

    1. Janice,

      I was diagnosed with brain cancer approximately 10 years ago. Doctors apparently will never say I am in remission because the tumor is unusual and unpredictable. Your daughter’s memory is much better than mine. Her loss of multitasking is probably a good thing because multitasking is simply the polite way of telling someone they are unable to do multiple tasks simultaneously. I know people who are able to switch efficiently between multiple tasks, but I do not know, or believe it is possible to multitask. Prior to discovery of my brain injury, I used to think I could handle multiple things at the same time — in reality, the only multitasking that took place required automatic activities (pumping blood, blinking, breathing, etc). What you probably notice is your daughter takes longer to handle a tasks and is unable to quickly or efficiently switch between multiple tasks. I have this problem too. At one point I thought about doing what I used to do. One day I realized I can be more happy now than I was previously. I loved what I used to do, but if I could go back to what I used to do, I would not. I understand what you mean by common sense, but there is definitely a place in the world for people with no common sense (governments that spend much more than they make). At one point, I was healthy and defined myself as a brain injury survivor or caner survivor. Now, I refer to cancer and brain injury as adversities that I conquered. This positive attitude allowed me to overcome the past, accept the present, dream about the future, and take steps toward a fantastic tomorrow. If you would like me to talk with your daughter, I would be happy to help how I can. The motivation to change must come from her, but there is a possibility that I can help her see other possibilities than trying to get back to the old normal. — Scott

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