My Only Gift From Cancer: a New View on Life


When I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought of only two things: my loved ones and how much time I had left with them.

I would never wish cancer upon anyone, not even my worst enemy. As far as I know, I don’t have a worst enemy, but if I did, I wouldn’t want them to experience it. However, I do wish everyone could see life the way I do after cancer. Although it has been hard in many ways, one thing that has improved is my outlook on everything.

Before cancer, I worried about everything: all the small things, all the time. I never really realized how much of me it consumed until it didn’t matter anymore. When I was lying in that hospital bed hooked up to machines refilling my body with blood, I only cared about two things: my loved ones and how much time I had left with them. I didn’t care about how I looked in a bathing suit, or who was talking badly about me. I didn’t care about the unfairness happening at my job, or the reason I had a panic attack that week. I didn’t worry about the people no longer in my life or for what reason they were gone, I only worried about family and time. That was it.

Since recovering, life hasn’t been easy, but one thing is for sure: I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. When my kids make a huge mess or break something, I don’t freak out about it. If something I really want doesn’t work out for me, I shrug it off. I still have stressful moments, but they’re much more valid and meaningful. I’m just truly thankful to wake up and see another day, because for a time there, I wasn’t sure how many more times I’d get to do that. I wasn’t sure if my kids would have their mom, or if my husband would still have a wife. I wasn’t sure if I’d get to take my kids to the beach for the first time or be there when they graduate pre-school. I wasn’t sure how much time I had left, and it really scared me.

When I recovered, I made sure to stop waiting for the perfect time to live. I left my career as a full-time news anchor to stay home with my kids. I took my kids to see the ocean, we bought a travel trailer and I renovated it. We realized life is happening all around us and it was time to be present.

I just wish others could see life through this lens. I wish they could understand how much worse things can really be. I wish they could see that 95% of the time, all those things they worry and stress over won’t even happen. Life really is too short, so don’t wait any longer. That’s the one and only gift I got from cancer.

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Dr. Manisha Thakuria in an interview with CURE
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