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Accepting the Presence of Cancer In Life

Accepting what is fact and being OK with the reality of an awful illness
PUBLISHED June 21, 2017
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.
No matter how much time passes, cancer will never not be. That is not to negate the fact that my sister is in remission, or to say that our world still revolves around cancer. It is simply a fact. We can never go back to the time before cancer was in our lives. It simply is one of those things that now always will be.

Milestones come and go and as apprehensive as I am for a recurrence to occur, I, too, indulge in celebrating. Because quite honestly, there were many times when I never thought they would come. But still, I know that it never truly will be over. Sure, treatments happened, scans were done and a transplant was had. Because of those things, cancer is not actively in my sister anymore. Symptoms that plagued her have largely improved but so many still remain.

Cancer is something that is always there. Either as a memory, a fleeting thought or a pain that she expresses that I worry will become something more. And in the form of anxiety that has yet to settle inside of me. It was a long-term battle when she was actively fighting, and it remains one still. It seems to just be a different kind of battle that is being fought now.

When her diagnosis came, it took time to understand the weight of it all. The gravity of the situation didn’t sink in the moment the doctor said she had cancer. When I finally came to understand exactly what that really meant, I quickly learned thereafter that a constant state of flux would perpetually exist.  But above all else, what I know now is that cancer changes life forever.

So then the question that I think I have posed to many, and many may pose to me after reading the above is, “What is it that you are to do?” The answer probably various for most but for me it is simple: you live. You do what cancer fights so hard to squander. You make the most of everyday and keep perspective as to what is important. You rationalize those fleeting thoughts of fear with the facts. You try not to grant cancer any more time that it has already stolen away from you.

You do not over think all the things that you want most in life. You cherish that memories and do your best to add to that archive on the daily. You focus on the now, what is and not what has happened or what you worry may someday be. You take in all the little things and all the big just same.

I believe that everything that you go through, all the experiences that happen to you make you who you are. They lead you to where it is you are today. So yes, I am not a fan of cancer. But I have come to the understanding that cancer will never truly be over. And with that knowledge a certain serenity has taken hold and I am more OK than I used to be.
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