Living with a deadline

My name is Cate North, and I am a speaker, writer, and patient advocate focused on advanced cancers.

Cancer has been part of my life since my initial breast cancer diagnosis in 2000. In 2016, I learned I had stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer. Yet I am fortunate to have treatment options that many people with stage 4 cancer do not.

A cancer diagnosis of any kind delivers instant awareness of something we all know (yet tend to neglect): Life is precious. My mission is to use my cancer experience and communication skills to raise awareness of early detection, treatment advances, and living with greater meaning and intention.

My cancer story

The journey begins in 2000 when I first heard the words, “You have cancer,” at the age of 39. I heard those words again in 2007, and then found myself navigating some twists and turns in 2009. After a break of several years, in 2016, I was told I had cancer once more, and this time it had spread.

Principles of Stage 4 Living

Stay in the game

Choose to be fully present and stay engaged, as best you can. Adapt as the rules change and respond to curve balls that come your way.

Lighten your load

Determine and focus on what matters. You have enough of a burden; let go of the petty stuff to live with greater ease and grace.

Honor the journey

Empower yourself by taking one step and one day at a time, bearing witness to the experience and finding purpose and meaning.

Meaning of the lotus flower

Lotus flower blossoms in mud

Rooted in mud, the lotus flower submerges every night into murky water and re-blossoms the next day in pristine condition.

That’s why I’ve adopted the lotus as a symbol for Stage 4 Living. We all have mud and muck to go through in life. We may not always emerge looking pristine, but the choice is ours to be as bright and beautiful as possible.

(Image: Pixabay)

Latest from my blog

Marking a calendar to remind us of time

Marking the days of our life

As a person living with metastatic breast cancer, I have adopted the calendar marking tactic in yet another way—as a reminder to reflect back on the day: How much time did I waste on matters or activities that don’t matter, like surfing the web? How much time did I invest …
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Can remembering the dead ease our fear of dying?

For many people, including and maybe especially Americans, death is a topic to avoid at all costs. Yet many cultures and philosophies honor human mortality and the inevitability of death, seeing it as a route to enlightenment and happiness. Stoicism is influenced by the ancient practice of memento mori–remembering we …
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Presence and awareness in every moment

Finding calm in the cancer storm

Getting a cancer diagnosis is like getting thrown into a raging sea without a flotation device. The initial shock pushes you upward for air and light as you try to keep from immediately drowning. You sputter and flail about for a few moments as you realize that life as you …
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Movement is cancer medicine

Movement is cancer medicine Many people do as much possible to move as little as possible, like driving around a parking lot until they get a spot that will limit their walking, or taking an elevator or escalator instead of the stairs for one flight. It usually gets worse with age, …
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Epic data on drop in cancer screenings during COVID shutdown

Back to cancer screenings after COVID shutdowns

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you are aware of the importance of early detection for cancer of any kind. Yet smart people (especially men) routinely procrastinate anyway, putting off doctor visits and recommended screenings like mammograms that could be lifesaving. Due to COVID-19, which made it impossible to schedule a …
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Just breathe

2020 is giving most of us reasons to be anxious and fearful thanks to COVID-19, unemployment, the economy, racial inequality, and anything else this crazy year has thrown your way. I have one word of advice—breathe. Breathing intentionally in a relaxed, controlled way is something you can do anytime, anywhere. It requires …
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