On The 10th Anniversary Of My Cancer Diagnosis, I'm Reminded To Pass This On

Life is best-lived at full speed, naively, with high purpose, optimism and a joyful lack of restraint.

My determination to embrace this kind of life in spite of fear or limitation is guided by a premature brush with mortality. On Jan 21, 2003, I heard the three most feared words in the English language: “you have cancer.”

I was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that accounts for less than 1% of all malignancies in the US.

I became part of that 1% while sitting in my college apartment, at the age of 21, just four months shy of graduation.

As a fit and healthy young adult, these words were unexpected, to say the least. I was scared, scared of a challenge that seemed beyond my capability to face, scared of a life so different than the one I knew. But I was also determined not to let fear dictate my grant of time.

This determination allowed me to focus my energy and attention on something else. I woke up every morning, not with cold sweats of fear, but committed to beating cancer that day, and every day since.

Today, I own a small business with someone I love. I run marathons. I am an aunt to 7 nieces and nephews, sister to three remarkable women, and the daughter of the woman who uttered those life-altering words just ten years ago.

I travel.

I love.

I laugh, and as often as possible. I live at full speed, naively, with high purpose, optimism, and a joyful lack of restraint.

We're all given a grant of time and its length is unknown and fleeting. It's also too precious to waste. I learned this sooner than most and it has shaped my perspective and experiences in ways I never predicted.

The statistics, the fears, and the realities of a cancer diagnosis are no match to a determined spirit.

On the 10-year anniversary of my diagnosis, I am reminded to pass this on: use well your grant of time, set unachievable goals, be audacious, and be fearless.

Now is the time.

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