In July 2016, we were at a rather dark and disappointing stage in my sister's journey. After endless appointments and numerous treatments, they had nothing left to offer her. She had rejected every available therapy, and so here we were. Waiting for the next treatment was hard enough, but accepting that there would not be a next was beyond hard. I did not know immediately, but it was in August when I realized that sitting by and waiting for the end was not an option.
I would have loved to take her farther, maybe to Disneyland but she was still sick. So instead, I did what we could under the circumstances that were set before us. I planned a trip to Utah with my sister and parents to go to an amusement park, visit an aquarium, eat In-N-Out Burger and just get away from it all.
Through every leg of her treatment, I have been beside her. And honestly, outside of cancer, our relationship did and has continued to struggle. This trip though, it was a chance to just be sisters. Not be a statistic or to think about what the end would be like. No, it was our chance to make memories that I was not sure we would have another chance to make.
When we were high above the park in sky buckets, I took it all in. Not just the beautiful view of the fall foliage, but just the moment that I was living in – sitting next to the sister who I thought I was going lose in a matter of months, finally sharing time with her in a place that wasn't a hospital or clinic, enjoying life despite how tragically it seemed to be unfolding.
I have questioned many times throughout all of this why it had to happen to her. How it was possible for life to be so unfair and I tried to reason that beyond my wants, it was unchangeable. But more than anything, I thought about how much she would be missing and how different life was going to be without her in it. In that particular moment, though, it was not about any of those things.
In stark contrast, it was the total opposite. It was about living the life that she had to the fullest, no matter what. It was a reminder that even though cancer steals so much, we do not have to let it control everything or let the stress of this horrible disease make for more bad days than good.
A few short weeks after that trip, we got the miracle that we hoped for and my sister began an experimental immunotherapy that led to a successful bone marrow transplant. As happy as I was and as grateful as I continue to be for the outcome, I think cancer has made me see life quite differently than I used to.
I have heard many clichés during this, and I am not a fan. That does not mean that I am so ignorant to not see that they exist for a reason. Yes, while physically removing yourself from a situation is a forced way and an easier way to separate yourself, it is not needed to gain perspective. I did not need to visit an amusement park hundreds of miles away to appreciate the time that I was getting with my sister.
Cancer is hard and often all-consuming. I feel that it is still incredibly important to appreciate the little things in life and enjoy those everyday moments that we take for granted. Simply looking around and finding the bright spots is so very important, despite how bleak things may seem. Life is precious, and sharing it with the ones you love is what makes it so worth it. Regardless of where those moments happen or what is occurring while they are unfolding.