My Sister’s Cancer Journey Taught Me to Live Moment to Moment
Last year wasn’t the year we thought it would be.
Good things happened in the last year, including getting my associate’s degree in nursing. However, 2021 was marred by the fact that my sister was re-diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It was not something any of us saw coming after only five years in remission. Yet the cancer came back with a vengeance in May and life was turned upside down again.
At the end of last year, I started thinking about my hopes for the coming year. The news of her several previous appointments has not been what we wanted, and it seems her body has picked up where it left off the last time: the treatments have caused many reactions and complications, which resulted in difficulty following the diet as her body was unable to handle the treatments she needed.
Also, we learned last summer that she was not eligible for a second bone marrow transplant. This means that she will not receive treatment. Rather, the goal is to give him as much time as possible with the best possible quality of life. While this is something many do, I think members of the cancer community can relate when I say it’s slightly different for those dealing with cancer or those who have a loved one with cancer.
I hope my sister survives until 2022 and will be there to ring in 2023, but that’s not something everyone can control. Instead, I choose to focus on what I can control when it comes to my sister throughout this year. I don’t want my sister to survive and just go to 2023; I want her to flourish.
I want her to live the best life possible, to spend more days at home, more nights sleeping in her bed. I hope she spends a lot of time laughing and making memories, rather than sitting in waiting rooms or with her accessible port and running meds. I hope this year will be spent with those she loves, doing things she loves, and that she will be present enough to soak up all that life has to offer.
If I learned anything from my sister’s first battle with cancer, I realized that cancer is unpredictable and planning around it is impossible. So as we come halfway through this year, I’m hesitant to look too far into the future, because a layer of sadness washes over me when I look ahead because we don’t know how long she has. I found it essential not to think about the many assumptions that can become all-consuming and take you away from the here and now.
For today, my sister is here and able to actively participate in life. While it’s easy to wonder if every event, party, or birthday will be your last, living like time isn’t promised should happen with or without cancer because no one has a guarantee of tomorrow. Life is short and living moment by moment is essential. That’s what I’m looking for in 2022 and beyond.
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