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Have you been following Shannen Doherty on Instagram? If you haven’t, you should. In 2015 Shannen announced on PEOPLE that she had breast cancer. While I haven’t been a super huge fan of hers (I liked 90210 and everything, but I haven’t really kept track of her), when I heard she had cancer, I started looking up her social media accounts and found her on IG. I’ve been so inspired by her fighting spirit over the recent months. Her uplifting, optimistic, honest and raw posts make me feel grateful for where I am today.

In 2007, my world quite literally stopped when I was diagnosed with stage 3 Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. I couldn’t breathe. I’d already been through so much… years of battling Crohn’s disease and ileostomy surgery. How could this be happening to me? So, I guess you could say I feel a kinship with anyone who is fighting illness. I know where they are because I’ve been there. So, as I watch Shannen fight her battle in the public eye with all the bravery that anyone could muster, I’ve thought about some of the lessons I learned along the way.  

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Once said more eloquently: "That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." My first thought in response to that was, "No it doesn't!" and "Tell that to a cancer patient!" But I’ve come out on the other side now and I can tell you that it's true. You may not realize this right away, but as life goes on you’ll notice subtle ways in which you can handle so much more than you could before.

Humanity is pretty awesome.

I’ll be the first to admit, there are plenty of reasons why a cancer patient might lose faith. Yet, having cancer showed me that humanity is actually pretty amazing. The love and support that poured out from everyone around me was absolutely incredible. Family, friends, nurses, doctors — everyone made sacrifices in their life just to help me.

Being grateful for your trials is a really, really difficult thing to do.

For me, it wasn’t something I could appreciate until after it was over. I admire women like Shannen Doherty who are not only fighting a devastating battle, but also inspiring others to be positive along the way. I can look back now and see the things I’ve learned and the ways in which I’ve grown and matured because of my trials.

My journey means nothing if it doesn’t help someone else with theirs. Even though I won my battle with cancer, my thoughts are with you and I know what you’re going through. I want all of you precious souls to know that you are not alone.