I want to share why I’m grateful I got cancer. Let’s face it. These are not words you would ever expect to see in the same sentence. But here I am, about to tell you why I’m grateful I was diagnosed and went through cancer treatment.
When life gives you super-sour lemons, you have to do your best to add the right amount of sugar to make your lemonade sweet! This is how I choose to face the adversities I’m presented in life.
Focusing on what we can’t control during our hard times gets us nowhere. However, if we control our mindset and seek out all the things for which we can be grateful, we’ve overcome a big part of the battle.
This is why I want to talk about cancer’s shining light, and what it’s brought into my life.
I’m grateful for cancer is because it allowed me to reconnect with old friends who came out of the woodwork. While cancer “scared” a few people away, it was also the catalyst to bring back into my life special people with whom I hadn’t spoken in, what felt like, forever. This was MAJOR for me. One of the people who came out of the woodwork (Hi Christine!) was an essential part of my healing. She would sleep over on chemo nights, lounge with me on the couch, and braid my hair for the very last time before it fell out. Christine, of course, is not the only one who reappeared in my life, but she’s a very solid example of an old friend who showed up when I needed her. Because of this, and because of cancer, I am much closer to these heroes who I now consider lifelong friends.
I’m grateful for cancer because it made me new friends. I always use the term “the worst club with the best people.” Cancer has offered me the opportunity to befriend so many people in the same situation as me, especially other young adults. Some of my best friends today, I met because of cancer.
I’m grateful for cancer because I’m practically a doctor now. Not only do I understand lymphoma pretty well, but I’m quite the smarty-pants when it comes to other illnesses and symptoms thanks to all the time I spent at the doctor’s office. I was the patient who researched everything her doctor told her. I never just listened to what he said without understanding it. My doctor did an amazing job of really explaining everything to me. I have post-cancer long-term side effects that are different than just cancer. This experience has made me understand medical terms, and the way food and diet affect our health. I’m practically a doctor now!
I’m grateful for cancer because I’m able to help other people. I’ve always been the type of gal who wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I participated in philanthropy events and would volunteer with organizations that help people with special needs. This felt so indirect, though. Once I was diagnosed, I was able to directly help people going through the same thing that I was, and I had a platform to do it with!
I’m grateful for cancer because it reminded me to stay humble. Not everyone you meet is dealing with cancer, but everyone you meet is surely fighting some battle — whether it’s a small battle to you or World War II to them. Having cancer taught me to remember that whoever I encounter may be struggling with something themselves. I’m now very cautious, and always think twice about the words and tone I use when engaging with people I don’t know.
I’m grateful for cancer because it challenged me to love myself. Before cancer I obviously thought I had flaws, and was not 100 percent happy with my appearance. Well, let me tell you… once your appearances are snatched away from you, you really learn how to love yourself in the most raw form, and appreciate all those flaws you hated before. I’ve learned to love myself at each and every stage of this process. I got to know myself on a deeper level than I ever would have, had I not been diagnosed. I met my insides (literally… there were a lot of PET scans and CT scans), I met parts of myself I didn’t know were there, and most importantly, I met ME.
I also got to see that my hair looks good at, almost, any length! So that’s a bonus.
I’m grateful for cancer because I found what my true mission in life is. Although being a special education teacher is extremely rewarding, I’ve learned — thanks to the nurse coordinator at my cancer center — that I need an auditorium, not a classroom. I am so grateful for the opportunity at a second chance of discovering who I am, and what my life plan entails. I want to use this experience to help and motivate others, the same way cancer did for me. My mission makes me so excited that I could cry.
I’m grateful for cancer because there will always be bad days, but there will always be good days. No doubt, some days are going to be rough, especially with cancer. And having cancer was a great reminder that our days are unpredictable. Having cancer reminded me that it will all pass — the good days too — so take advantage! Soak in your emotions and be grateful for your breath, or lack thereof (thank you, Bleomycin). Be grateful for the cherished moments you got to spend with your loved ones today. Be grateful your eyes are working well enough to read this article. Be grateful the sun is shining. Be grateful the rain is falling.
Note: Lymphoma News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lymphoma News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lymphoma.