Ten years ago, on Christmas day, my life changed. On December 25, 2002 I went to the emergency room. Two days later I was diagnosed with a childhood form of liver cancer. I went through six months of chemotherapy. The sickness pushed me to my limits physically and mentally and strengthened my faith. I can officially say I’ve been cancer free for a decade.
The reality hit me this Christmas. It’s been a decade since I beat cancer, which was the toughest battle I’ve fought so far in my life. I woke up this Christmas morning so thankful for what I’ve been given. For one thing, I’m alive. The chemotherapy wasn’t a cakewalk. Ten years later I’m around the same loving family who cared for me day in and day out. I was also with my wonderful fiancée whom I would have never met had I not beaten the disease. I’ve been blessed with loving, caring friends.
I felt a new appreciation for what I’ve done in the last ten years of my life; the relationships I’ve made and the different events I’ve experienced. God has a plan for me and even though I don’t know what it is yet, I’m sure it’s wonderful.
Since my sickness, I’ve traveled in several states and even overseas. I’ve attended college and received a Bachelors degree. I had my first job, my first car and my first speeding ticket. I’ve had a family who has loved me and supported me. The times spent with them will never be forgotten. There are so many events and times in my life that I can look back on and for which I’m grateful.
Not only can I be grateful for events since my cancer battle, I can look forward to future events and relationships. During my battle with cancer, I didn’t know what my future might hold. I would never have imagined that ten years later I would be almost married and moving towards a new chapter in my life. I’m thankful to have met my fiancé and best friend Ashley and to know I’m going to marry the love of my life and have many more years of laughter and love.
There is a song that expresses some of what I felt this Christmas when I thought of the gratefulness I’ve had for my life after nearly losing it ten years ago. The song is by Tim McGraw and tells the story of a man who has been told he does not have long to live and outlines how he approaches his life after the diagnosis. The chorus says, “I went sky diving, I went rocky mountain climbing, I went two point seven seconds on a bull named Fu Man Chu. And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter, and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying. And he said ‘Some day, I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dying.”
I was fortunate to beat a horrible sickness ten years ago. I’m grateful everyday for my life and for all the times I’ve experienced since. I hope to have many more years ahead of me and I hope to never pass up an opportunity to “live like I was dying.” Many of us take for granted what we have, or sit back in regret for what we’ve done. That’s not living. Remember life can be taken at any moment. Cherish what you have, and don’t fret about what you cannot change. Take a moment to decide what matters in your life and choose to “live like you were dying.”
By James Brandly