Janelle's Blog

The Survivors Club-Part 1 of 2

I have finished reading an eye-popping book called The Survivors Club. Ben Sherwood, a New York Times bestselling author, tells about extreme stories of survival intertwined with amazing scientific research. He uses the backdrop of his own experiences with U.S. military’s elite survival schools and the government’s airplane crash evacuation course to passionately relate personally with other survivors. If you want to be held spell-bound by one of the best writers I have read, you’ll go for this book.

My observation is that people will encounter tragic situations and events in their lives, whether personally or by their connection with other people. When I was told I had breast cancer, I don’t remember one person telling me how to emotionally survive the loss of my breast, my identity as a woman, or my self-image. Had I given my life up to defeat and despair, I would have sat on the side of the road and watched my life and every good thing that could happen in my future pass me by. I chose to join the Survivor’s Club.

In one of Ben Sherwood’s survival courses there were two main points that he was taught. I believe we, as breast cancer survivors, can identify with them:

Maintain your reference point.

Just as he recommends that you focus on something as a reference point during a crisis, then no matter how many times you are thrown into a disorienting position, you can find that point and identify where you are. 

Nothing turns your life upside down like breast cancer. You may not recognize yourself from the chaos that you experience, but find that reference point and stay focused on what is important to you.  

Before breast cancer, I thought my breasts were more important than any other part of my body. It is kind of nice to have some part of your body that is premier in the body-image mirror. But, when that mirror gets shattered, believe me, you don’t then shift your attention to your legs or hands. Suddenly and violently you are forced to refocus, and the emphasis goes to the anchor of your life. For me it was my faith in God, which did not fail me. I hung on for dear life, continually looking for the hope He promises in the Bible. That was an anchor that held.

Wait for all sudden and violent motion to stop.

Ben Sherwood says panic is your worst enemy. The chaos does not last forever. As a breast cancer survivor, you sometimes feel that your experience is permanent, but there does come an end to this tragic moment in your life. I figured I could outdistance fear and panic and wear it down with my persistence of hope. It worked!

I want to add a third point to Ben Sherwood’s two pieces of advice.

When the storm stops, rebuild your life with hope as the foundation.

Strengthen the walls of your new life with a refreshed view of life and all of its possibilities. Yes, things will be different. Make life better because of your experience. There is no strength in bitterness.

Next week—What role does luck play in the Survivor’s Club?

Thought for Today:

“A house pulled down is half rebuilt.”—Proverb quote

Live Life,


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