12 years ago, I began the process of sorting through symptoms and getting tests done that led to a cancer diagnosis.
In that 12 years, people have said some really stupid and/or hurtful things. (Not intentionally. But still.)
My cancer wasn’t some sort of gift.
It wasn’t given to me so I could learn a lesson or grow in some specific way.
It wasn’t a necessary prerequisite for a path I needed to walk.
It wasn’t a test of strength or character, nor was it a deliberate means to acquire strength or character.
It was a thing that happened, and that’s all.
It sucked way less than many other people’s cancer experiences. It sucked way more than many other people’s cancer experiences.
As a result of that experience, my lenses focus a little differently. I learned things I otherwise might not have. I met people and experienced places I otherwise wouldn’t have.
Many of those side effects have been positive, but certainly not all.
I have no guarantees that I won’t do it all again. Very unlikely for the same cancer. Odds aren’t great for certain other cancers.
In the mean time… today, I am alive.
Today, I take care of my body in a way that ties in with a culture that resists self-care.
Today, I offer support to others who are at the beginning of their terrible journey. Or are at the end of their treatment, still shell-shocked, and wondering, “What now?” as everyone tosses confetti and walks away.
Today, I get to be me for another day. Everything I have lived through—not just cancer—has shaped who I am, for better or for worse.
I have no gratitude for going through nine months of medical testing and procedures to diagnose and treat a large malignant tumor in my chest.
I have much gratitude for some of the “consolation prizes.”
But please. Stop telling people horrible things like “It’s God’s will” or “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or “Everything happens for a reason.”
It’s not a gift.