Embracing life despite a diagnosis | Leukaemia Foundation

Embracing life despite a diagnosis

Maryanne Skarparis

A blood cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event, where patients have to deal with treatment, side effects, a new routine, and health worries.

Maryanne Skarparis, one of our Support Services Coordinators, has helped many patients deal with their diagnosis, giving them tools to help them embrace life even in the face of adversity.

A diagnosis comes with a lot of negative feelings. Fear, anxiety, and anger are all normal reactions to being diagnosed with a blood cancer. Picking yourself up on those bad days and unhooking from the negativity weighing you down can be very difficult. So how do you approach each day and each negative feeling with a happier and more even-keeled response?

I suggest taking a few moments to think about the three Ps: purpose, passion, and perspective. This exercise can be done by anyone no matter where they are in their journey; whether they’ve just been diagnosed, or whether they are in a new stage of their life after treatment.


What is your purpose in this life? You don’t have to change the world, you don’t have to be world-famous or win the lottery. Look at purpose simply as: is it to be a good person? A good partner? A good friend? A good parent? Perhaps it’s to be a diligent worker, or a positive role model.

By concentrating on what your purpose is, you can be proactive with your gifts and talents so that you can better yourself, your world, and the people within it. A close partner of purpose is presence. Presence, or mindfulness, allows us to take in the here and now and focus on what we hear, how we feel, what we see, touch and taste. Purpose gives our life direction, and presence allows us to make the most of the journey.


Thinking about what you’re passionate about is often harder than people think it will be. What is it that truly satisfies your soul and feeds your spirit? What is the thing that gives you a spark and energy that drives you? Is there something in particular you are drawn to, or can you pinpoint something that really motivates you?

If you’re still struggling with this, break it down: what do you simply LOVE to do?

Good perspective

Life can deliver the unexpected and unwanted, but we can still acknowledge and embrace the good that we see in life. In the midst of life’s greatest trials like a diagnosis, we can still be grateful for the beauty that exists in our day-to-day life.

What does this look like? It is different for everyone. It could be being grateful for the love of those around you. It could be admiring the blue skies of a beautiful day. It could even be enjoying and being grateful for the loyalty of a pet. Often it’s the simple things that can give us so much pleasure.

Cancer support

We run support programs and seminars that can give you more tools for getting the best out of your life. Visit our support and information programs page for more information, or contact us to be put in touch with one of our Support Services Coordinators.

Share this page