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My Sister's Cancer Journey Has Taught Me to Live Moment by Moment


After my sister was re-diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I was reminded to find laughter in every day because nobody knows what tomorrow holds.

Last year was not the year that we thought it would be.

Good things happened last year, including graduating with my associate degree in nursing.,However, 2021 was marred by my sister being re-diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was not something that any of us had seen coming after just five years in remission. Yet, cancer came back with a vengeance in May, and life was again flipped upside down.

As last year ended, I began to ponder what hopes I had for the coming year. The news from her several previous appointments has not been what we wanted, and it seemed that her body picked up where it left off last time: treatments caused numerous reactions and complications, leading to difficulty staying on regimen because her body was unable to handle the treatments that she needs.

Additionally, we learned last summer that she is not eligible for a second bone marrow transplant. This means that she will not be receiving a cure. Rather, the goal is to give her as much time as possible with the highest quality of life that we can. While that is something that many do, I think those in the cancer community can relate when I say that it is slightly different for those facing cancer or those who have a loved one with cancer.

I hope my sister makes it through 2022 and is here to ring in 2023, but that is not something anyone can control. Instead, I am choosing to focus on what I can control when it comes to my sister throughout this year. I do not want my sister to survive and make it to 2023 merely; I want her to thrive.

I want her to live the best life that she can, spend more days at home, more nights sleeping in her bed. I hope she spends plenty of time laughing and making memories, rather than seated in waiting rooms or with her port accessed and medications running. I hope that this year is spent with those that she cares about, doing things that she loves, and is present enough to soak up all that life offers.

If I learned anything through my sister's first battle with cancer, I realized that cancer is unpredictable and planning around this disease is impossible. So, as we come to the halfway point of this year, I hesitate to look too far into the future, as a layer of sadness befalls me when I look ahead because we don't know how much time she has. I have found it essential to not think about the many what-ifs that can become all-consuming and remove you from the here and now.

For today, my sister is here and able to actively participate in life. While it is easy to wonder if each event, holiday or birthday will be the last, living as if time is not promised should occur with or without cancer because nobody has a guarantee of tomorrow. Life is short and living moment by moment is essential. That's what I strive for in 2022 and beyond.

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Dr. Lauren Pinter-Brown