So, finally, 2019 came to a close. I’ve never been happier to see the tail end of a year.
As readers of this column know, the past year was the most challenging of my life. I lost my mother while going through lymphoma treatment for a second time. I completed my master’s degree while undergoing over 16 rounds of chemotherapy. And eventually, I received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant.
2019 showed me the true meaning of suffering, both physically and emotionally. And at last, it is done.
A new year is upon us.
We appear to enjoy the concept of a new year because it offers us the possibility of starting over. We understand it is just another day, but Jan. 1 represents a new beginning. We can wipe the slate clean and start again, however we choose.
As the clock struck 12, I stood on a dance floor surrounded by beautiful people and cried with joy. I felt intense relief that I had survived such a tumultuous revolution around the sun and elated at the opportunity for a new chapter. 2020 feels lighter, fresher, more joyful, and full of possibility. It’s deeply cathartic to be able to step into that feeling after such a heavy and emotionally taxing chapter.
I don’t know what this year has in store for me yet; all I know is that I am a different person now then I was at the start of last year. I’m a stronger, more appreciative, profoundly grateful being. That’s how I know that whatever life chooses to throw in my direction this year, I’ll face it with courage and acceptance. These are the qualities that cancer has engendered in me, and they have dramatically transformed how I see the world.
I now live with immense and humble gratitude. I am not a religious person, yet I feel as if I am continually speaking in prayer, thanking a higher power for this second chance at life. I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. I no longer base my self-worth or identity on other people’s views or opinions. I don’t worry so much about the future, or having a perfect career or five-year plan.
Going through cancer twice and losing a parent in my 20s has reshaped and reformed how I operate in this world and what I view as important. Of course, I still have goals, ambitions, plans, and radical ideas. One should never lose those. But what I care about the most is living fully and happily. I want to be present for it all and not worry so much about what might happen in the future. I want to live my truth, speak my mind, and express myself through art and writing. I want to listen to others, have an open mind, be vulnerable, and cultivate genuine connections. I want to live boldly, push myself to step out of my comfort zone, and see as much of the world as I can.
Though I don’t wish the suffering that I have experienced on anyone, I am grateful in many ways for what I have been through because of the awakened perspective it has given me. Nothing feels that serious anymore. Kindness and awareness of the present moment have replaced success and social popularity as the most important things in my life.
It’s amazing what almost dying can do to the human spirit. Perhaps my views will shift and change as time passes, but in many ways, I hope they don’t. I hope to carry the lessons this illness has taught me throughout the rest of my life and never forget how fortunate I am to be here.
I hope that you, dear reader, have an incredible 2020. I hope if the past year was tough for you, that this one will be lighter. If you’re going through a hard time, I hope that you know it’s only temporary. It cannot rain forever. Things will change, as they always do.
I hope you take the time to pause and to be present in your life while it’s happening. Smell the flowers and bask in the warm sun when it shines. I wish for you to feel healthy, strong, and active and love those who love you back while you still can.
Being alive is such an incredible blessing. I hope you don’t waste a minute of it.
To a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2020 for us all.
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.