Looking for the Silver Lining thumbnail

Looking for the Silver Lining

3 Things by Hollye Jacobs, The Silver Pen

3 Things by Hollye Jacobs, The Silver Pen


In October 2010, I learned firsthand how life changes in an instant.

My peaceful life was interrupted in an abrupt, unimaginable way when I felt a stabbing pain in my right breast. Immediately, I began the long ride down the twisty, pot-hole-filled breast cancer road.

I’ve always been a “half-full” kind of girl. When I was diagnosed, my first thought was: this could have been so much worse. It was at this moment, literally from the time of my diagnosis, that I became conscious of the need for optimism and began looking for (and finding!) Silver Linings.

Here’s what I know for sure about Silver Linings:

1. Silver Linings come in little and big packages. From watching a hummingbird outside of my bedroom window (because I was too sick to stand) to being cancer-free (after enduring the longest and most painful year of my life), Silver Linings are present. All you have to do is look for them.

2. Silver Linings don’t take away the pain, but they do provide balance and perspective. Pain and sadness are important and valuable feelings that need to be processed during and after any rotten experience. The beauty of Silver Linings is that they don’t take away the rain. Rather, they provide an umbrella.

3. Finding Silver Linings is a choice. Sometimes it is a really (really!) hard choice. For example, one day when I was in the bottomless pit of chemo despair and found myself laying on my bathroom floor unable to get the 6 feet to my bed, I wondered whether it was possible to find a Silver Lining. At that moment-the precise moment-my Silver Lining appeared when my dear husband and dog came into the bathroom floor and sat with me until I could muster the strength to get to my bed.

One Silver Lining of my breast cancer experience is that I have learned that inexplicable tragedy creates an opportunity to take righteous anger and sadness and turn it into a force for doing good. No it’s not easy. I would never sugarcoat the fact that it can be hard. But what I do know for sure is that dumfounding circumstances and even outrage can be redirected and channeled into action that yields positive outcomes.

This is the ultimate Silver Lining.



If you or someone you know is facing a breast cancer diagnosis, here are my top five recommendations:

1. First, breath. It sounds easy, I know, but after you hear the words, “You have cancer,” breathing takes a whole lot of work.

2. Do not make any rash decisions. Despite feeling like an f-bomb has hit you, the situation is more than likely not emergent (i.e., requiring medical intervention within 24 hours). Take the time to understand the meaning and process the emotions of your diagnosis.

3. Prepare a list of questions before every doctor’s appointment and take a cool, calm and collected friend with you to document questions and answers.

4. Determine the best way for YOU to communicate with friends, family and colleagues about your diagnosis and upcoming treatment (or NOT communicate!). The Silver Lining of a diagnosis is that now YOU get to determine what is best for YOU!

5. Begin building your own comprehensive medical record. At the time of every appointment and test, request a copy of the results and progress notes. This is well worth the effort!


Chemotherapy and radiation made my skin as dry as the Sahara Desert.

My skin felt like a dried and crusty sponge (with a hard and rough surface)… after being in a microwave. Actually, I am under-exaggerating. Every time I put any kind of moisturizer on my face it was sucked up in a nanosecond. Even the expensive ones! Grrrr.

Then, I found Egyptian Magic and the cancer clouds parted. It is truly magical and was the great Silver Lining that saved my skin. Post-treatment, I continue to use it every single day. You can find it easily online or at Whole Foods.


Contributor: Hollye from The Silver Pen
Enjoy her award-winning blog.
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Check out her forthcoming book, The Silver Lining: An Insightful Guide to the Realities of Breast Cancer (will be published by Simon & Schuster in March 2014).

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sandra July 9, 2013 at 10:31 am

    Hollye, thank you so much for your personal insight and valuable words of advice for those facing a breast cancer diagnosis. I hope you are well.

  • Shana Norris July 9, 2013 at 11:28 am

    This is such a beautiful post, Hollye. So full of hope and overcoming and living through. Thank you for sharing your experience and what you learned from it.

  • Michelle Mariscal July 9, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    Thank you for your beautiful words! I, too, suffer from a serious diagnosis (not cancer) and have had to find silver linings in my circumstances which has not always been easy but your apt description of finding them will help me to continue to look. Bless you!

  • Hollye Jacobs July 10, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Absolutely, Sandra. Thank you for the comment!

  • Hollye Jacobs July 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you so much, Shana. I appreciate the kind words!

  • Hollye Jacobs July 10, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Thank you for your comment, Michelle. All my best wishes to you!

  • Diana Brill July 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    I often revisit your early blogs – your positive attitude and honesty through out your ordeal has put many things in perspective for me! I love love love that you are now on the other side. You are still in my thoughts and prayers daily. Love from McKinney, Texas <3

  • Sheena Malik July 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Dear Hollye….I love your attitude and your beautiful words. Your blog was one of the first things my daughter forwarded to me after I was diagnosed with cancer….after reading them and a few others i have embraced my disease( it’s out though) and feel liberated!!! I am now a priority for myself!! I come first… A vey difficult choice after being a wife, mother , daughter-in-law, mother-in-law, grandmother,and sister…….thank you

  • The HerStories Project July 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Thank you so much for that beautiful and important post. I think your advice and wisdom will be a gift to many women. -Stephanie

  • Jenna@CallHerHappy July 13, 2013 at 3:23 am

    So beautiful. And many prayers on your lifelong journey from survivor to advocate :)


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