This I Believe

Kari - Seminole, Oklahoma
Entered on December 21, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: illness
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I believe cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me. It seems crazy to say that at the age of 22 I am actually praising an illness that sends chills down most people’s backs at even the name. But it’s true my cancer taught me to cherish everyday I am granted here on earth.

I cannot always say that I felt this way. For quite awhile I cursed the very thought of cancer as well as the day the doctor told me I had it. I remember the exact moment my parents called to let me know I was going to need to quit my sophomore year of college and undergo intensive surgery. I was sitting in my room surrounded by my closest sorority sisters and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. At first I denied the news and covered my fear and insecurity with jokes and laughter. Everyone else was sad and cried enough for me.

However, the day I went in for surgery, I came to a harsh realization my life could be over in a matter of moments. This was the first time I cried, but I couldn’t hold back my fear as the doctor explained the severity of the surgery and asked me if I would like a man of faith to pray over me, just in case. I couldn’t believe that this could possibly be the last time I would see my wonderful parents who nagged me too much; hear the clamor of noise I often found annoying; taste the gum I was chewing nervously; or breathe one more breath of life I sometimes felt to be overwhelming.

A hard reality for a 20 year old to have to come to so quickly, but at that moment I made a pact with myself and God. If I was to awake from surgery, no matter the circumstances, I would make the most of each new day. I came to the realization that life is too precious to worry about the insignificant things I all too often fret about. In all honesty I should be thankful for the very opportunity to breathe in one more breath of air and enjoy one more day of God’s beauty. It taught me that happiness is a choice and that every morning I am faced with this choice. So, instead of choosing to allow the small things to get me down I should embrace the small things that lift me up.

Thankfully my cancer was removed in one successful surgery, and November 15, 2006 marked my second year cancer free. Cancer changed my life and not in the horrific way most claim, but for the absolute better. I now embrace life with open arms and an optimistic outlook. The word “Cancer” still scares me and each doctor’s appointment makes me a little nervous. But it also pushes me to fully strive to meet my motto: “Dream Big, Worry Small, and Simply Love Life”- Something I could not have done without Cancer.