The Official Website of National Cancer Survivors Day


Finding the Happy Side of Cancer

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

[ NCSD Guest Blog Post by Lauren Hudson ]


What? Are you kidding?! How in the world could there be a HAPPY side of cancer? After all, isn't that an oxymoron? Happy and cancer just don't go together.

At least that's what I thought … at first.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer just 6 weeks after my mother was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. I thought I was handling it well. Despite all the turmoil, I would smile when I was around my parents and children, even around my doctors and nurses. I would keep my chin up and plow forward. After all, isn't that what a survivor does? Even throughout my lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation, even as my mother's time was ending, I was hanging in there … or so it seemed.

As the months passed, I stopped going out and visiting with friends. When people called me to do something fun, I didn't feel like answering the phone. (Why wouldn't they leave me alone?) I spent a lot of time in my pajamas sleeping and watching TV. My best friends were soap opera stars and talk show hosts.

However, I never suspected that I was depressed. No one told me that it's an issue that as many as 50% of cancer survivors face (co-survivors too). No one told me that it was, in many cases, a natural byproduct of the trauma of the diagnosis. No one told me that symptoms like fatigue and forgetfulness, which I thought were just side effects of treatment, could also be signs of depression. So I would lie on my couch thinking about my life and what a sad, sad story it was.

Being a television news reporter, I know that there are at least two sides to every story. It just took me a little while to realize that also applied to me. Sure, there were reasons to be sad, mad, scared, and disappointed, and at times, reasons to be frustrated. But there had to be at least a few things to be happy about. So I set out to find the happy side of cancer.

I did loads of research and learned that studies show that reducing stress and anxiety, and increasing happiness, is a powerfully positive factor in facing any challenge. I also tested out most of the techniques I discovered. And in just a few short weeks, I made the most wonderful discovery of them all; the more I worked on my happy, the better I felt. Now, it's a way of life for me.

Here are some of the techniques I use to stay on the happy side:

  • Create a list of "One Hundred Happy Things" that you’re grateful for or love to do.
  • Develop activities to look forward to daily – a craft, a hobby, learning a new language.
  • Motivate yourself with positive phrases; for example, "I am strong, powerful, and great!"
  • Center yourself with yoga, prayer, meditation, or calming music.
  • Watch funny movies or comedy shows.
  • Discover healthy foods you enjoy.
  • Volunteer for a cause to help others and make a difference.
  • Connect with family, friends, and other survivors regularly, even if it's just a quick phone call or email.
  • Journal your feelings. Don't keep them bottled up inside.
  • Seek professional help to make sure you're on the right track.

As someone who regularly speaks at National Cancer Survivors Day® celebrations, I’ve also found that participating in this celebration of life is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to share ways to better deal with the challenges of cancer.


Lauren Hudson is a cancer survivor, motivational speaker, and author who uses her experiences as a cancer survivor and Emmy award-winning television news reporter to inspire others. Lauren is also the founder of The International Happiness Network where she is known as "The Happiness Princess." To learn more about Lauren or to book her for a speaking gig, visit her website,

If you would like to be featured as a guest blogger at, send us your blog submission of approximately 250-750 words, a short bio, and photo to We’re looking for posts that are positive, inspiring, and uplifting. Maybe we’ll choose yours!