Thank You, Cancer
by Nicole Malato
Truth be told, I would have never invited you into my home. Being the party crasher you are, you barged on in anyway. Admittedly, I was confused and distraught when you first made your presence known. You were frightening and devastating. As time went on and I learned you were not planning to go away, it took a lot of reflection to realize that even though you are with me, I can still live a great life.
If not for you, cancer, I might not have broken out of my comfortable daily routine. I would have missed out on opportunities. I would not have learned to appreciate every day I am given. I would not have learned the importance of balance in my life. I would not have been brave enough to put myself out there to give others hope.
I’ve had adventures that I wouldn’t have experienced if you hadn’t come into my life, cancer.
I have found that other people walking their cancer journeys need support from someone who truly understands what they’re going through. I am not afraid to speak out on what it’s like to live with cancer because I know that so many others who are in the same boat feel isolated and scared. When they see people like me managing the same types of struggles, it gives them comfort. I am proud to play that role.
I’ve had adventures that I wouldn’t have experienced if you hadn’t come into my life, cancer. I would not have made a recent pilgrimage to Lourdes, France, a serene and beautiful place to heal. I would not have had the opportunity to meet truly amazing cancer survivors who lifted my soul with their presence alone. I would not have been selected to be the Honorary Bat Girl for the New York Mets on Mother’s Day this year. (Having been a lifelong fan, this was the thrill of a lifetime.) I would not have felt blessed, when indeed I am.
Cancer doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. It can be a catalyst to seize every day, to live life to the fullest, to know the true meaning of hope, and to experience the exhilaration of not taking life for granted. Cancer doesn’t have to be a curse; it can be a blessing if you let it.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Nicole Malato is a breast cancer survivor and mother living in Toms River, NJ.
This article was originally published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, September/October 2013.