If you or a loved one has been recently diagnosed with cancer, share this letter with them - written by a survivor who was given only a few months to live eighteen years ago. Read more.
I know you may be feeling sad. Mad. Numb. Ugly. Scared. Vulnerable. The list goes on. I know that you're thinking that this isn't fair. And it isn't. I know that you haven't even really thought about yourself because you are so focused on those around you who need you to be alive and healthy. Your children. Your parents. Your significant other. Your best friend.
There Will Be Days That Feel Impossible To Survive
I can't sit here and try and make you feel different about any of this, but I can let you know that you're not alone. One of the biggest things that you will need to do right now, at the very start of your journey, is to make up your mind to really give this all you've got. Do everything in your power to fight. No exceptions. Nothing halfway. Nothing for the sake of ease or convenience or fear.
Even on the days when you can't seem to bring yourself out of bed. Even on the days when you just don't want to talk or laugh. Even on the days when you wish you could put on a mask and be someone completely different so you could escape it all. Those are the days that you have to fight to get up and shake cancer off. Stop reading this for a second, and think about who you will go to or what you will do on the days like those. Because chances are, they will happen - for some they will be frequent, for others they will be far and few between. But if you make a plan right now, and ask for help when it's needed, you will make it through those days.
But There Will Be Other Cancer Warriors To Meet
During your journey, you may meet others who are fighting cancer – you might get close to them and create close relationships with them. Sometimes, some of those people may not make it. This will be very hard and you will learn what "survivors guilt" really means for the first time. But do your best to not get caught up with that feeling of guilt. It's so hard to talk to others about what we go through when we feel like we shouldn't have lived when others have died. But shake that out of your mind. You should
be living so accept that you are still here and encourage others, the way that I'm doing with you today, the way your fallen friend would have wanted you to.
Let's Not Forget The Caregivers Getting You Through This
And to the caregivers - help your loved ones by filling them up with knowledge. I was only 5 years old when I went through stage 3 ovarian cancer and was given only a few months to live...but I still knew what type of cancer I had, what treatments and medications I needed and what side effects I would experience. My mom would tell me everything that she was told to prepare me because she believed that knowledge heals and ignorance kills.
It's not an easy road to embark on, so I won't tell you that it will be. But as the bible tells us, there is a season for everything: "...and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to build up" and I think that this is a perfect reminder to you through all this (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
Cancer is not something we plan for. No one wakes up thinking, "I want to have cancer today." Unfortunately, the reality is...you do. But that doesn't mean cancer has you. Allow yourself to feel all the emotions that will come your way - don't hold anything back. And when this is all done and over with, move on. It's important you don't dwell on what cancer takes away from you, and what you are leaving behind. What's important is that you LIVE. There is life after cancer – I am the proof.
(Image courtesy of the DepositPhotos