Living with a deadline

My name is Cate North, and I am a speaker, writer, and patient advocate for people with advanced cancers.

A cancer diagnosis of any kind is frightening, and those of us dealing with advanced cancer (stage 3 or 4) gain instant awareness of something we all know, yet don’t like to think about: life will end. When we learn to manage the fear and uncertainty, we can use this awareness to our advantage.

Cancer has been part of my life since 2000, and I’ve been living with Stage IV (metastatic) breast cancer since 2016. I want to use my cancer experience and communication skills to raise awareness of the importance of early detection, patient-centric treatment advances, and most importantly, living a life that matters to you personally.

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 engaged, as best as you can, even as the rules change and curve balls come your way.

Lighten your load

Focus on what matters. You have enough of a burden to bear; 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 joy.

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

Time slips away

How often do you find yourself saying or thinking something like: “It’s 4:15, where did the day go?”I can’t believe it’s already April!””Has it really been five years since I joined the company? Since they got married? Since we last spoke?” If these kinds of thoughts are a regular occurrence, maybe it’s …
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About Her—HER2, that is

On April 17, the FDA approved a new drug called Tukysa (tucatinib) for use in combination with chemotherapy for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer that has metastasized to the brain. All new treatment options are good news, but this is particularly good news because: HER2-positive breast cancer is not as common as …
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ER, PR, HR—hormones and breast cancer

HR positive or negative, PR positive or negative, ER positive or negative—these are the various types of hormone status in breast cancer. HR is the acronym for hormone receptor ER = estrogen receptor PR = progesterone receptor This information is important because it influences treatment options and an individual’s prognosis. About female hormones Estrogen and progesterone …
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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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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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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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