At some point in our lives we all celebrate or commemorate an anniversary. Whether it be one year of marriage, or a second birthday, the term anniversary helps us remember special days in our lives. I like to think that they are also a great time of reflection. To look back and see the growth that has taken place over time. Today, I celebrate an anniversary. A three year anniversary. It is one that holds a very special place in my heart, for it holds the day that I received the news that I had cancer.
I will never forget the date August 26, 2011 or every little detail that took place throughout that day. However, as I reflect on the past three years since that day, I can’t help but be happy. You see, cancer saved me. I know that may sound like an oxymoron, but it is completely true. The lessons and experiences that this sickness has given me, is something that I am thankful for every single day. Below is a photo I took in a dressing room with my sister hours before I was to find out I had thyroid cancer. For me, this photo helps remind me how far I have come since that day.
As I look back on the past three years since my diagnosis, I have my own appreciation for all the things cancer has taught me.
Before cancer, I took life way too seriously. Cancer taught me that life is extremely short to be anything but happy and that you should embrace a childlike innocence when looking at the world. Laughter is the best medicine for anything and smiling is contagious no matter what may be going on in your life. We all get stressed at times, but it is important to realize that life should never be taken too seriously. Being able to laugh at yourself is such an important trait and helps all the worries of this world fade away.
Before cancer, I didn’t fully appreciate travel. Cancer taught me that you can and should travel to new and exciting places as often as possible. Being able to see the world is something that allows you to not only come in contact with beautiful places but beautiful people. Travel helps open your eyes to new cultures, new ideas and further broadens our view on life, making it more robust and unique.
Before cancer, I thought I knew what love was. Cancer opened my eyes to what real unconditional love looks like and the one person who will always be there for me. Re-affirming my faith in God is something cancer helped me accomplish and has been my saving grace ever since. Without His love, I would not have the strength to push forward every single day and cross the finish line of finally being able to say I am in remission (hopefully this upcoming December).
Before cancer, I never put everything I had into the relationships around me. Cancer taught me that you can and should give those around you every ounce that you have to give. I started pouring into my friends, family and into possible relationships. Sometimes I experienced heartache and disappointment, but I learned that I would rather give what I could than to neglect someone. All of my failed friendships or relationships taught me more lessons about myself and in turn helped me grow. It is important to constantly be aware of yourself and how you engage with others in order to make sure you are being a good friend, family member or significant other in order to help yourself grow and encourage those around you. Cancer taught me the importance of quality over quantity in these relationships and that still rings true today. Better to have a handful of people you know you can count on than numerous acquaintances who do not have your best interest.
Cancer has taught me a lot. It has catapulted me into a life full of new experiences and is still teaching me numerous lessons about life. Today, I celebrate 3 years of laughter, wanderlust, love, and quality. I encourage you to take some time whenever an anniversary occurs to sit down and think about what you have learned since the initial day of whatever it may be that you are commemorating. You may be surprised at how much you’ve learned and that this life is something that really should be celebrated.