Learning to appreciate time after cancer.
Kim is a nursing student who is hoping to find her place amongst the phenomenal oncology nurses and doctors who cared for her sister. She loves reading, volunteering and enjoying the outdoors of Colorado.
With cancer so pervasive in our culture, I have found that people usually have one of two views. The first being those who believe that cancer is terminal upon diagnosis. Or you have the second, those who believe cancer to be curable because, after all, this is the 21st century. When my sister was diagnosed, doctors had promised that it was curable and that after a set amount of chemo, she would gain remission and go on to lead a vastly normal life. For those of you who read my postings regularly, you know that was not the path she would go down. She faced and continues to face many complications and the ups and downs wore on not only her, but my entire family.
During the two-and-a-half years that she had cancer, we heard several times that she was out of options and nothing more could be done. It was at those times when we would begin to prepare for the worst. The fact that she is now 11 months in remission, on the verge of being 30 and prepping for her first Christmas post-cancer is a miracle.
I know that the longer the show goes without cancer, the greater chance she has of not having a relapse. With that being said, that doesn’t mean that it is not frequently on my mind. We have done many scans and gone through many scares this past year since her transplant.
Even on her hardest of days, I know just how lucky we are that she is here at all. All of the long days spent in hospitals and the effects that she suffered are all so fresh.
The fear that she will have a recurrence is something that is a reality in our daily lives. Life continued to happen while she had cancer, just as it continues to happen now. The largest difference is that she can experience it. That we, I, can experience it as well. Those things that I thought she wouldn’t ever have the chance to experience are the things that she can focus on doing now. All those moments she would cry about missing, those are the things that she needs to be striving to accomplish with this second chance.
Just the same, I have so many things that I thought had a clock on, not only because she is my sister and I wanted her here, but because an illness like cancer makes you hyper-aware of how short life is. I am awed by some of the silliest things, and I catch myself soaking up simple pleasures that used to go unnoticed. It is a wonder of a horrible illness and the after-effects to a disease that I detest. With cancer in my life these last three years, I feel the world is both a much larger place and yet a much smaller place than I’d once imagined it to be.
I have experienced life vastly differently than I would have otherwise. I now know many people that I can’t imagine my life without. I will be a nurse, I am an author and, for good or bad, I am an entirely different person than I once was. Most importantly, I am motivated. My goal in life has always been to leave this world a better place than when I was born. It never mattered to have my name remembered, I simply wanted to be more than just another tiny drop in a far larger pond. Cancer has provided me with an incredibly unique perspective that I did not know I was going to get in life. The best advice that I can give to another is that of which I received from my fiancé: Tomorrow is never promised, so live for today, because today you are here.