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Cancer taught me to celebrate the small victories, get out and live life to the fullest, and make memories

April 11th, 2018 |

by tealelfs | Fighter: Cervical Cancer    Connect

I was directing a creative writing session at my local Cancer Support Community in Indianapolis, Indiana when my topic for this came flowing out. The premise of the creative writing session is that each individual selects a picture that "speaks to him/her". This picture is the one that will be utilized as the catalyst for the writing session.

I selected this picture:

Whatever and wherever. These are my conditions I feel in my life. I have been forced to make a fundamental shift before the age of thirty in the way I live. This shift was pushed upon me by cancer. When I was first diagnosed it was an early stage cervical cancer diagnosis. I had surgery and planned to put cancer behind me. After a few complications, I did put cancer behind me. I didn't even acknowledge my one-year cancer free milestone. Cancer was just a box for me to check on the form when going for annual wellness exam visits. It was just a box. Cancer was gone. Cancer wasn’t me. I was a woman, mother, fiancé, coach, and teacher in her late 20s. NOT cancer.

Well, cancer had more for me. It is like it stuck its tongue out at me and said "Whatever! I'm not done with you, you just wait!" Damn was cancer right and boy did it show me! Throughout the cancer diagnosis, recurrence, and additional recurrence I learned a lot from cancer.

Celebrate Small Victories – First of all cancer taught me to rejoice in seemingly small victories. If I have a "good enough scan" where there isn’t much progress, then I should celebrate that small victory. Remember that one-year cancer free that I didn’t celebrate? Now, I won't even get another day cancer free. I'm incurable. Celebrate your small victories; you don’t know which one will turn out being a big victory.

Live Life – Cancer taught me that things I thought were important really had no business even being on my radar as a concern. I learned that if I let go of those things I could really move on with living life to the fullest. When I did that I really started to get out and live my life: the best life I know I how to live.

Make Memories – I learned that whatever I do I want to leave behind a legacy of grand adventurous memories that my son, husband, family, and friends can cherish. I want everyone, but especially my son, to know that it is okay to spend time making memories and going on adventures. I want my son to know that an adventure can be going on a trip to a wondrous place, taking a great trip to the park down the road, or even just spending time together as a family. Memories are what last and they are priceless.

Whatever and whenever obstacles are in my way I hope that I can remember what cancer has taught me: celebrate the small victories, get out and live life to the fullest, and make memories.

Here are some of those memories that I know will last through my lifetime and beyond:

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tealelfs's picture

Erica is a thirty-year-old wife, mother, and teacher who is living her live with cervical cancer. She was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in October 2012 at stage 1b2, in April 2014 she was diagnosed with an aggressive recurrence, again in May 2015 her cancer returned. Although she is in a treatment to slow the progression of her cancer there is no cure in sight at this time.