Finding Forgiveness for Cancer


A woman writes about the difficulty of her sister’s cancer diagnosis and how it impacted her personal life.

The diagnosis of cancer that my sister received changed so much in my life – it changed my personal life immensely. When she was diagnosed, I was seeing a young man that I had known for many years. A few days after we got the news, I told him about her diagnosis. It felt strange to tell people that she was sick because none of it felt real to me. After explaining everything to him, I told him that I wanted to take a break to focus on my family solely. It was a spur-of-the-moment choice that I had made before seeing him that night, but when it left my lips, it felt like the right thing to do.

I did not know how he would respond to what I had said, but I could not have predicted what he did say when he finally spoke. He told me that I needed to agree that we would get back together when the cancer was over or be done for good. I was shocked by the ultimatum but disagreed. While I did not know how much longer her cancer would last or what would unfold, I could not promise that I would be the same person when it came to an end.

He held to his word, and we have not spoken again since that day. It was hurtful, and I am sure that my choice hurt him as well. I had anger towards not only him, but cancer. I told myself that if the cancer had not happened, none of what happened would have occurred. And sadly, he was the first of several people that I lost in my life because of my sister being diagnosed with cancer.

I held on to that anger, and then my life changed in ways that I could not have ever foreseen. In between, I had doubted my choice and wondered if I had made a mistake with breaking off my relationship. I questioned why cancer had to be in my life and why life seemed so unimaginably hard to handle at 23. Several months later, though, I met my late fiancé while he was working in the emergency department of the hospital where my sister was treated.

That experience in life has taught me that we do not always get to know what life has planned for us. And the choices that we are faced with at the moment may not always be as evident as we would like them to be. That said, I think it is essential to go with your gut and follow your heart. Cancer is unpredictable and creates unpredictability in life too. It can be hard to take a step back and see a different perspective at any given moment. I will never be grateful for cancer, but while I once had anger for a vengeful disease, I let go of some of those emotions because I realized that a lot of the anger I had been carrying was far more about cancer than what happened and finding forgiveness is a skill that I used many times throughout cancer.

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