A Path After Cancer Doesn't Have to Be Linear


I used to think that having lung cancer canceled all of my life's plans, but I realized I shouldn't give it that much power.

Image of several cubes going in straight line before curving.

When Knox thought about her goals and dreams, she realized the end result was what mattered most.

When I got my stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis at age 32, it was two weeks after my wedding; just seven days after my husband was deployed to South Korea. At the time, I had so many goals and dreams, and all I could think about was how I would never get to do any of them. A diagnosis tends to strip away any feelings of hope and a future. It's so easy to let go of dreams and desires out of sheer doubt and fear.

After three lung drains and with a PleurX catheter in my left lung, I slowly returned to kickboxing and felt fine! Well, fine enough. But it was then that I realized I could still do the things I wanted to do. I just need to do them differently and they may not look like what I originally expected.

I always dreamed of being a mother and with my new husband, we were excited to start discussing future plans. I felt like cancer took that from me almost immediately. It was the first goal I mourned. But possibilities outside of natural birth were presented to me, and I realized that I could still be a mother in some capacity. But was that good enough?

I began to consider what was most important to me about my goals and dreams: the process or the end result. I came to terms with the fact that it doesn't matter what the path looks like, as long as I get to where I'm trying to go. My whole world opened back up and a whole shelf of dreams, I thought I had to put away forever, became possible for me. These included motherhood, fitness, travel, weddings and careers. If I focused on that end result, how I got there didn't matter. And I have slowly been checking those bucket list boxes off my list!

Before my diagnosis, I used to think of things very linearly. Having cancer has taught me to be creative, open-minded and to always stay positive. Life doesn't have to end with cancer unless you let it. And if you truly want to do something, find a way to make it happen and it will be that much sweeter when it does. The feeling of relief I had when I finished that first kickboxing class post-diagnosis was such a rush. I felt like I was reclaiming my power and my life from this disease.

On the other side, I understand that I am incredibly blessed in my journey. A lot of things are working in my favor. And I realize that no two cancer journeys are the same. But I think if we all think of our goals from this lens, we can all achieve much more than we thought. I am a firm believer that whatever part of your life you can take back from cancer, you should. Cancer takes away so much from us and we all deserve those little victories.

My motto is, “I may have cancer, but cancer does NOT have me.”

This post was written and submitted by Jaymie Knox. The article reflects the views of Knox and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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