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Jan's Story

Jan was diagnosed with rectal cancer and shares her story and support of the LoveYerGuts campaign.  To watch Jan Robinson’s story click here

 She also talked to people with gastro-intestinal cancers. Her tips are below.

After going through what I call, “my adventure,” these are my takeaways:

  • When I look back, I knew something was wrong before I was diagnosed. Trust your instincts, and listen to your body. If you were driving a BMW and you heard a strange noise as you drove down the road, you would take it to a mechanic. And you would make sure they took you seriously.

  • Importance of putting faith in your specialist. It’s so important to respect them and be able to be open and honest. Because I trusted by specialists, I was able to put all of my concern over my treatment into a little box, tie it up, and hand it over to them. All I had to do was listen to their advice, and be.

  • Understand side effects, educate yourself as a patient or a caregiver. Save your energy. Don’t set yourself up for failure by overexerting yourself. Day by day, hour by hour.

  • You must recognise the importance of managing the mental aspect of the cancer experience

  • I didn’t block out the “what ifs”, but I didn’t dwell on them. I chose to be optimistic, yet realistic. I considered the “just in case” but again, I didn’t let myself dwell.

I never thought of myself as a victim. Don’t analyse what’s happened, focus on what’s next and what you need to do to keep going.

  • Balance of perspective—you see the big picture, but break it up day by day. What do you need to get through the day.

  • Decide for yourself what will make you feel good. And go with it. Do you have a mantra? Figure out what you need to do to give you strength. If you like music, listen to music. If you like to read, buy a book. If you don’t know, just try something.

  • Cancer never affects just one person.

  • When you’re going through something difficult, surround yourself with positive people who will make you feel strong. You will need to lean on them, and use their strength and energy. Choose people who want to be there and are strong enough to help you.

  • To the people who are supporting someone who’s going through this, you need to realise when your bucket is empty too.

  • One of the best ways to fill your bucket is to be kind to other people. When I was in the hospital, I had a friend take pictures of every bouquet of flowers sent to me. I turned each picture into a post card and sent it to the person who sent me the flowers with a message of thanks.

  • Humour is key. Nemo, the ileostomy.

  • Mind stamina, Cameron Brown

  • My mother has a saying, life will give you rain drops, then it will give you hail, then it will give you bricks. Cancer was bricks for me. And when you get given bricks, you have to throw them back.

  • When I refer to my experience with cancer, I call it my adventure. It was a second chance at life. It was an opportunity to extend my life, and I wasn’t going to let this beat me. I thought to myself, if I get to live until I’m 80, what do I need to do make my life more fun, more positive.

  • Celebrate each day because life is worth fighting for.