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Moving Past Cancer and Gaining Direction Through Self-Care

Remission may put an end to the disease, but it does not always stop the feeling of being lost.
PUBLISHED December 27, 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.
I think all of us have those moments in life when we question why we are here and what our purpose is. When my sister had cancer, I sometimes felt like I had somehow forgotten to read the directions on the map, because often I felt quite lost. I was always so busy working to make sure that she was OK, and I had little time to do anything else. I would look at my calendar and wonder how I became so busy.

Looking back, I honestly have no idea how I managed to do it all and still sleep. But in all honesty, there were little other options. Things needed to be done for a variety of reasons. I was her caregiver, so I did them. Now that she is in remission, that is thankfully no longer the case. However, that does not mean that completely stopped feeling lost.

As of late, I find myself stuck. There are moments in time that I feel absolutely disconnected from the world and alone in my own little bubble. While I have direction and I know that I want to be a nurse, the journey to getting there has been difficult. I have faced many hurdles to find my way. And it is in these moments that I wonder if I have actually found my way at all or if I am still amongst the lost.

In the months that followed post-cancer, I struggled with the daily things that one takes for granted. Getting out of bed and going anywhere but a hospital felt entirely foreign to me. Learning to focus on myself and letting my sister just be was something that took over a year to learn. But when I did, I found myself on the proverbial road to happiness.

One day sticks around in my mind the most. About eight months after my sister had gained remission, I sat down with a dear friend that I had not spent time with in quite a while. Not because she hadn’t made the effort, but rather because each time we had set a date, something seemed to come up and we would cancel. As we finally sat to talk and catch up for the first time in a long time, I felt like I could finally breathe.

We didn’t talk about my sister or about cancer. It was not a clinic that I found myself in, but a restaurant. Without even realizing, her presence that day had made such an impact on me. Not only through the gift of her company, but also because on that day, I felt normal again.

From that day on, I came to better understand that making time for those closest to me, and for myself, was of more value than I had previously understood. Even after that day, it took time. But I’m learning to better value myself, those that I am lucky enough to have in my life and my time. I feel that it is what helped me to gain better direction.

I know that if I dig past the tension and jumbled emotions within, my compass is not spinning as it sometimes feels. My arrow is truly pointing in the right direction, even if I do feel a little turned around sometimes.

From that day, I came to better understand that making time for those closest to me- and for myself was of more value than I had previously understood. Even after that day, it took time. But learning to better value myself, those that I am lucky enough to have in my life and my time; I feel that it is what helped me to gain better direction.
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