Thank you, cancer. Yes, I'm serious when I say that. No, I haven't lost my mind. And I haven't discovered a strange, new side effect of the cancer drug I'm on.
When I first received my chondrosarcoma diagnosis, and then faced a recurrence several years later, I felt many of the same emotions all of us cancer patients feel. I was scared, angry, upset and fearful about what the outcome might be. I had lots of questions, but I soon learned that answers tended to show up when they felt like it, not when I needed them. But that's not the only lesson I've learned from my cancer journey.
Coming to terms with my chrondrosarcoma journey
Several different things helped me come to terms with my chondrosarcoma journey: a bit of time in counseling; conversations with my family about how I was feeling and my regular meetings with a group of friends and fellow cancer survivors -- my Chemo-Sabes, as we call ourselves. All of that, along with prayers from friends and the acceptance that comes with time, have calmed my nerves and anxiety.
It's not that I don't get scared or worried anymore. I do. My own scanxiety, as a fellow MD Anderson patient calls it, shows up regularly. But I seem to be handling it better. And I wonder why. What happened that changed me? I recently looked back at my life in the time since cancer returned, and I realized my priorities have changed.
I focus on my family much more than I had before. I usually greet each day as a gift and a fresh start. I've completely lost the ability to hold a grudge and began reaching out to people I had sworn I'd never talk to again. My bitterness, both from the cancer and the many years of fighting the disability I'd been born with, have begun to fade away.
Finding gratitude through cancer treatment
That bitterness has been replaced with simple gratitude. I wake up each morning thankful for another day and feeling blessed that I have a great family, good friends, a roof over my head and food to eat. And I realize that having those blessings is a gift beyond anything I could have hoped for.
Even though I didn't acknowledge it right away, God has given me an inner peace and a sense of purpose I had never known before. I'm not fighting cancer for just myself. I'm fighting it for the people I love and the life I'd been blessed with. I'm fighting for those things that cancer couldn't touch, no matter what. So thank you, cancer, for helping me realize that. I'm far too grateful for the life and gifts I have to waste time being angry and sad because of you. I'm loved by my family and friends. I'm thankful for my life and everything in it, even on those rough days when you slap me around and try to hurt me.
Because whatever you do to me, I have so much more that you'll never touch, things that you can't change and places you can't go. I have love, happiness, a home and contentment, and you don't. No matter what happens to me or when, you don't get to win. You never get to win. And you never will.
Mike Snyder's cancer journey began with a sore left knee in the mid-1990s. After a variety of tests and minor surgery to correct the problem, he was diagnosed with a type of bone cancer called chondrosarcoma. In spring 2011, his doctor recommended that he switch to a hospice-type care because his tumors were growing to fast. That was an answer he refused to accept.