From Pain to Gain: My Family Moved Away After My Cancer, But It All Worked Out

After my cancer diagnosis, my family moved to Florida, which upset me at first, but ended up being a good thing.

There’s been a lot of change in recent years following my recovery from cancer.

First, I learned that my parents were selling our childhood home and moving to Florida. Shortly around this time, my younger sister announced she was pregnant. And then a year later, she and my brother-in-law followed my parents in moving to Florida.

While of course I was happy for them, all this reshuffling dealt a severe blow to the local support system I’ve relied on all my life.

The past few years have been a struggle, involving a ton of therapy as my wife and I try to figure out life after cancer. At times, we’ve felt stuck in place while working to recover from the trauma we’ve endured, as well as trying to rebuild our sense of trust in the universe. And juxtaposed with all the exciting progress the rest of my family was making just had a way of magnifying our pain and feelings of lack.

Fortunately, earlier this week, my wife and I flew out for our first trip to visit everyone in Florida and I’m happy to report feeling much better afterwards. I had a blast seeing my parent's and sister's new homes and neighborhoods, as well as getting quality time with my nephew— who just by being around helped me grow more comfortable with the idea of raising a child, in the event my wife and I start a family.

I even got to see my aunt, uncle and cousins who live nearby in Florida. Growing up, my parents and I would visit our extended family often and we were all very close. But once my grandparents passed (who always took charge organizing everything), and I was diagnosed with cancer, and then, well, the pandemic… time got away from us. Catching up with these people who’ve played such an important role in my life growing up was incredibly fulfilling and a huge bonus to the whole situation.

On the way home I realized that while initially my family’s decision to move brought out fear and feelings of loss, I can now recognize the unexpected benefits. I have a new place to travel, especially during the cold winter months in New York; it’s easier to see more family at once; and with my parents and sister moving away, my wife and I have really pushed ourselves to make the best of our situation back home. We’ve been focusing on self-growth, pursuing interests around Manhattan, traveling, and finally making up for lost time…

It all reminds me of a Taoist story I once read about an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years.

One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed. “Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy for his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer. 

This serves as a solid reminder that we shouldn’t be so quick to assign judgement to change because you just never know where life’s going to take you next.

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