Sherry-P-Myelodysplastic-Syndrome

Seven ways I got through a rare cancer diagnosis

Sherry P. was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) in 2014. After several therapies from different doctors, she decided to treat at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), Chicago, at the urging of a friend. In January 2017, Sherry had a stem cell transplant with her sister as her donor and stayed at a CTCA® facility for six months while recovering. Sherry shares some important tools and tips that helped her through her cancer journey.


  1. Consider spiritual support. The first thing I did was to turn to my spiritual faith in God. I decided to surround myself with healing verses from the Bible. I placed those verses all over my home, so I could see them every day. I called on all my prayer warrior friends and asked them to pray for me. I called my pastor, church staff and my family together in my home and had a laying on of hands in prayer.
  2. Stay active. I began to exercise as much as possible. I wanted to make sure my body was strong going into this transplant. Walk, bike, swim, yoga—don’t be afraid to try something new to keep your body moving.
  3. Consider healthy swaps. I changed my diet to include more fruits and vegetables and less meat. I knew that picking fresh produce was better for me than eating processed foods.
  4. Have a go-to mantra to ease anxious feelings. The initial shock of my cancer diagnosis was debilitating. Many things went through my mind. I thought about my family, things that are left undone in my life and memories I hadn’t made yet. I learned to recite the Lord's prayer when I started to feel anxious and depressed. Just the 20 seconds it takes to recite the verse provided peace in my soul.
  5. Consider volunteering. I stayed busy helping others as much as I could during this time. Giving to others helped keep my mindset focused on them and not my diagnosis.
  6. Lean into your support system. I surrounded myself with positive, uplifting, energetic people. I wanted people to lift me up and not pull me down. The initial shock of a cancer diagnosis can be debilitating. It takes a lot of mental work to get over the shock of a cancer diagnosis, and you shouldn’t have to navigate it alone.
  7. Take time to relax. After my diagnosis, I watched funny movies so I could keep laughing. When I laughed, it helped calm me down and alleviated my stress.