October 11th, 2011
01:12 PM ET

Human Factor: Survivors, your stories fuel hope

In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle - injury, illness or other hardship - they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. This week, "Next Food Network Star" finalist Hans Rueffert shares his battle with gastric cancer. 

The six years following my initial cancer diagnosis have been a complete, blender-spinning blur.

At times, my most recent surgery from back in March feels like a decade ago, yet my first journey under the knife way back in 2005 seems somehow more recent. Keeping a blog was my wife Amy's idea. In truth, I wasn't even 100% sure I truly knew what a BLOG was! I thought the term was VLOG…which I suppose is just as arbitrary as BLOG.

At any rate, the first few entries were a cautious, nervous, frightened collection of thoughts describing our baptism into the complicated world of cancer. Sometimes funny, sometimes graphic, always unsure what was waiting around the next corner, we shared our story with the world as it happened, blow by blow. When the details of my many health challenges seem vague, I sometimes read through my own blog entries and wade back through the thick and tangled memories of that journey.

Eleven surgeries, countless checkups, and several hundred blog entries later, the story continues. I'm always surprised by the diversity and sheer number of readers that the blog attracts. Some pop in to quench their curiosity, some hoping for a light laugh, but others arrive while looking for some serious slivers of hope.

If you do a search for GASTRIC CANCER on your favorite search tool, you're likely to come away from your computer feeling overwhelmed and even hopeless. But should you somehow land here after having just been diagnosed with GC, you might just feel the tiniest better about your predicament. "If he can beat stomach cancer, why can't I?" Every time we landed on a survivor's story, we came away with a freshly forged new link in our chainmail...a thicker coat of armor for the battles ahead.

Success stories are crucial...steep yourself in them, and then BECOME a success story. Even more importantly, share your success story with the world...sing your life! No matter what you’ve overcome in your life, no matter how insignificant it may seem to you, every success story can be as contagious as a wide-mouth yawn.

It may not seem all that important right now, and even more to the point, you may not FEEL like writing your story right now, but to someone somewhere, it's just what they need to hear. Your story may be the tale that fuels the fire of hope that is so crucial for someone facing a cancer diagnosis.

We’re all on this ride together, so don’t try and go on it alone. I can’t make you do it, but I’d be proud if you signed up to mentor or counsel others through support groups like the Anderson Network or Immerman’s Angels. I also work with the Gastric Cancer Fund to do what I can to help others dealing with this disease. Chances are there are local support groups in your area that could use your voice...your story. It’s a powerful thing.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. JennM

    I am so proud to call Hans my friend. I have followed his journey these last 6 years, and he is nothing short of inspirational. The fact that he has taken this bad thing and turned it into so much good for so many people, is just amazing!

    Gesundheit, my friend!

    October 11, 2011 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Judy Anderson

    I just discovered this site, due to Mrs. Rueffert's post on the ECGROUP list, and I just ordered "Eat Like There's No Tomorrow". I too was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma at the GE junction, on 7/5/05. I had an Ivor Lewis esophagectomy on 2/27/06, and I also had a leak. It healed on it's own however, and I had no infections from it. Like most esophagectomy survivors, I have a host of after-effects, and have had to relearn how to eat, but that just goes with the territory. I am still here to talk about it, so I can't really complain. I am looking forward to reading the book, as well as the resto of this blog, as soon as I can figure out how to navigate the site.

    October 13, 2011 at 01:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • F Dale Standley

      Judy, Please take a look at the message I sent Carol below. I think you could benefit from the Soursop tea as well. My email standley_fd@yahoo.com for more info.
      Good luck
      Dale Standley

      August 10, 2015 at 05:17 | Report abuse |
  3. Carol Henegar

    I am so excited to see Hans this morning on CNN. He is an amazing man and want to congratulate him for his successes with so many life threatening experiences.

    October 14, 2011 at 10:17 | Report abuse | Reply
    • F Dale Standley

      Carol, Google soursop leaves or Graviola leaves make tea for cancer cure. I was healed from cancer in 4 weeks drinking this tea. Study it research it for yourself. This is no snake oil...it cured my friend with 3rd stage cervical cancer in 3 weeks. It is miraculus....
      Good luck
      Dale Standley
      I can supply you and others with the Soursop tea leaves from Indonesia as I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. They worked for me.

      August 10, 2015 at 05:12 | Report abuse |
    • F Dale Standley

      If you need more info please email me at standley_fd@yahoo.com

      August 10, 2015 at 05:15 | Report abuse |
  4. Kaylee Kempel

    I wanted to buy the cookbook (ISBN 978-1607431718) but Amazon.com says its out of print! Oh well 🙁 I really enjoyed his story as he is such an inspiration.

    October 14, 2011 at 11:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Amy

      Hi Kaylee!
      This book is not out of print!
      If you go to hanscooks.com you can purchase it directly from Hans!

      October 14, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
  5. Tashi

    I saw you this morning in the news and couldn't wait to tell you how proud and happy I am for you. you are an amazing inspiration to all those patients who thinks if they can make through this phase. your story is so close to my heart because I was diagnosed with the same problem as you in 2008 and went through all the rituals. i had diaphragmatic hernia as a side effect and had to undergo emergency surgery. So far everything is good. In the time when you look into the internet and find all the negatives statistics, you are a fresh hope. Thank you.

    October 14, 2011 at 11:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. mailet

    Wow, wow! This is exactly what http://www.IHadCancer.com is about. Sharing your story/experience no matter how small or insignificant you think it is may be just what someone next door, across the country or across the world needs.

    Not everyone knows how to set up a blog and the chances of finding one that's specific to your situation is like finding a needle in a haystack. I Had Cancer puts all these stories in one location where you can search for someone by cancer type, age, gender, location and more.

    Stories provide hope from someone who's been there and helps us look towards the future reminding us that there is reason to fight.

    Congrats and thanks for sharing your story. Wishing you health and happiness.

    October 25, 2011 at 09:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Marion Smith

    Hans,You are awesome.What an inspiration you are to all with gastric cancer challenges.Thanks for telling your story.
    God bless you always. Good health to you.

    October 29, 2011 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Lynne Smith

    Even though I did not have cancer, I also had a very similar surgery that removed most of my esophogas and stomach and at 7 months in still having a hard time finding foods that agree with me.. But it seems I have finally gotten past vomiting after every meal.. I also have a backround in cooking and food So this story really really touched me.. Thank you, we need strong people to help inspire us to also be strong.

    October 29, 2011 at 14:17 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.