The Sudden Twists and Turns of Cancer


Finding support as a cancer survivor helps me get through the unpredictable twists and turns of cancer.

Illustration of a woman with shoulder-length hair wearing a red cardigan.

It is a bright spring day, tomorrow the weather is forecasted to take a turn for the worse. Cold temperatures, snow and wind are on the way. You would never know that looking or walking outside today, but I am aware, due to the weather forecast of the impending change. Cancer, unlike the weather, often does not give a forecast or a warning.

Three families that I am aware of this month have felt a sudden shift driven by cancer. Three families are grieving the loss that cancer sometimes creates. Three families’ lives are permanently changed, grandchildren will not see their grandparents anymore. Children will not see fathers or mothers. These things happen in every family, I am aware. Someone else I know is grieving the loss of an adult child who was struck by a car. I know cancer is not the only thing that creates grief and loss, but cancer has become so common. No one is immune to the effects of it.

Cancer survivors have firsthand knowledge of how quickly life can take a turn for the worse. This knowledge is something that has driven me to make a few changes. I wish I could say I have made all the changes I want to make. In my heart, I know that I have not. I sometimes ask myself, why, when I have been given more years, would I not use every moment to finish my list of changes. The answer to that question runs deep.

Change is hard because we are human. I was just talking to a professional about this. Change is not hard because we are lazy or inept, it is because we are human beings. I have had to let that soak in, bit by bit. I always thought change was hard in some areas due to a lack of desire or motivation. When I think about being human, I know I am imperfect. But somehow people can think that once you have gone through cancer you should be superhuman. You should always be able to make lemonade when life gives you lemons. Build a bridge to get over it or use it for the good of other people. The reality is, that while coming through cancer can be filled with blessings, it can also leave scars.

Some of the scars we carry can make it even more difficult to change. As I continue to work through my list of things I need to change, I realize how much cancer still impacts me today. I realize I need to give myself grace because life has been A LOT at times. I can be thankful to be alive and hold that immense thankfulness. While I am still looking and working through the list of things I want to do or need to change to become who I want to be. One thing that has been easy for me to change post-cancer is this: if I love or appreciate someone, I make sure to tell them. It is now common for me to end phone calls from friends with I love you or I appreciate you. Before cancer, I was not so quick to do that.

Practice makes perfect, some people say, I say persistence makes progress. If you are a survivor struggling to make changes for better health, you are not alone. If you are a survivor struggling to process emotions, you are not alone. Life takes turns, but rest assured, you are not the only one who struggles with the turns. Reach out, communicate, find someone you can talk with. Get support from other survivors. Whatever it takes to help you see that many cancer survivors are on the same journey of change as you.

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