Celebrate Small Victories With Cancer


Cancer-related can be consuming, so my sister and I make sure to celebrate the little victories along the way.

cartoon image of blogger and cancer caregiver, Kim Johnson

So much about cancer is arduous, so I focused less on labeling something “good” or “bad” during the experience. For example, the build-up to a scan would come with anxiety and uncertainty.

Instead of waiting for the results, always unsure if they would be what we hoped for, we celebrated other things instead. My sister’s scans were scheduled between every therapy cycle. Upon completion of the cycle, we celebrated with something sweet. Sometimes that was a homemade pineapple upside-down cake, and other times a cupcake. No matter what, it was the gesture of surviving another cycle of treatment having been completed because that in itself felt like a victory worth celebrating.

When supporting my sister through cancer, I found it hard to see past the moment we were in. Even when good things happened or days did not seem so bad, cancer would slap you in the face with reality. As opposed to facing the entirety of the situation, approaching it in smaller, digestible forms proved beneficial — hence the importance of celebrating each victory.

Our celebrations went beyond ending a treatment cycle. They also included hospital discharges, surviving predicted perish timelines, ending every round of radiation and any treatments that my sister was able to complete in the cancer clinic that did not result in a hospitalization.

Cancer has this rippling effect in life; it alters our realities and it transforms relationships. Cancer steals away time and nearly every sense of normalcy that the patient and their closest loved ones and caregivers once enjoyed. Fighting against these realities can be exhausting and, at times, feel futile. As hard as it can be during cancer to pause and reflect, it is something that I think must be done. Days blur into each other, and it is easy to be swept up in all the comes with having cancer.

The bigger picture of getting cancer-free is always at the forefront of your mind, and it can be easy to lose sight of everything in between. The reality is that the days pass just the same. Cancer or no cancer, life continues to unfold, and it is essential to redirect our thinking. Celebrating victories that occur along the way gave my sister and me a new focus. That mindful shift led to a better avenue to channel our energies and provided small bursts of joy throughout a very challenging time in our lives — and it is something that I encourage others who are going though cancer to do for themselves or for their loved one.

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