One year, cancer-free. It was hard to believe it, even as I typed those words on Dec. 13, 2018. I never knew I could feel so overjoyed to be rid of something I never thought I’d have in the first place.
But one year ago on that day, after finishing treatment for sarcoma, I was declared cancer-free by my doctors at MD Anderson. And every day since then has brought a little more healing, both physically and emotionally. At the same time, my heartstrings are continually being pulled, because now, I’m the one on the sidelines, encouraging and praying for those facing the same battle I once did.
Shifting my perspective after a sarcoma diagnosis
I think celebrating milestones is important when you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. It was hard for me to do at first, because I found myself looking back and noticing how different things are today from the future I’d previously envisioned. I had to grieve the loss of that dream.
But once I took a step back and changed my perspective, I could see how far I’d come and appreciate my life in a new way, as well as the many blessings that came with it. Suddenly, I felt triumphant and victorious. And that realization gave me more motivation than ever to celebrate.
Adopting an attitude of gratitude
To commemorate my one-year anniversary of being cancer-free, my husband took me to my favorite place on Earth: Walt Disney World. Even though I’m 29, being able to laugh and play like a kid again was magical beyond words.
In a way, I do feel like a kid again: full of life, gratitude, appreciation and excitement about everything. And, since I’m officially a “one-year-old” in my new life of being cancer-free, it seemed especially fitting to be there.
Embracing a ‘different’ life after sarcoma
Life looks different now than I once thought it would, but that’s OK. I couldn’t do as much as I’d planned to on this trip. I needed a lot more sit-down breaks and had to go back to our hotel frequently to rest. But I’m still grateful to be alive and proud that I didn’t give up, and I’m cherishing the moments that I do have.
The key word for me here is “life.” My passions, direction and heart have all changed so much since my sarcoma diagnosis. And I don’t want to waste any more time, or take a single day (or the people in it) for granted.
So, whether it’s the day you lost your hair, the day of your last treatment or the day you finally became cancer-free, I hope you can see your cancer milestones with fresh eyes, too. Because they are momentous occasions that show just how far you’ve come. And the “wins” in your life — no matter how small they may seem — are all worth celebrating.