Dear Cancer, We Have Been on an Adventure

by Michelle LawrenceSurvivor, Chronic T-Cell Lymphocytic LeukemiaJune 21, 2022View more posts from Michelle Lawrence

Dear Second Half,

We have been on an adventure for 13 years this April, ironically both of us are celebrating our “birth” on my birthday. I hate you, and at times I am grateful.

You have stolen moments from me that I will never get back. You have limited me in so many ways by constantly throwing a wrench into my plans. After 13 years, you have broken down my body; years of treatment, procedures, tests, hospitalizations, and because you are rare, often a lot of guesswork. You stole my ability to have children, caused me to be in menopause in my early thirties, and have limited my stamina. You have given me 13 years of financial stress, while trying to support myself, I am constantly fighting the system for affordable access to treatment while trying to pay my bills. Recently, I had a financial overview: 41 percent of my income is spent on medical expenses. The financial advisor had the audacity to ask, “Is there any way you can decrease that?” I hung up the phone and cried.

I am blessed because you have taught me a LOT of lessons, sometimes repeatedly when I don’t listen. One is to SLOW down. Before we met, I was constantly going and ensuring I was taking care of everyone else. When I try to go too fast you quickly remind me it’s not worth the pain. I had lost my voice. You forced me to find my voice, my fight, and my ability to be resilient. I now enjoy the small moments; that good cup of coffee, the ability to go for a walk, sitting in the sun, being able to shower and dress by myself, a chat with a loved one, and even a good nap. You provided me with the skills to really listen to my body and to take care of myself. Sometimes I may not listen, but you shout louder. I am blessed and thankful you have shown me the perspective that life doesn’t go as planned and tomorrow is promised. Don’t stress about not knowing what to eat for dinner, having a bad hair day, someone cutting you off in traffic, or other trivial moments. You have instructed me to be careful where I put my energy, and to step back and take pause. Flexibility is a skill I am still working on after 13 years; you love to change things up. Life isn’t boring, that is a blessing.

Happy Birthday Second Half. I will remain open-hearted, have an open mind, and continue to work hard on being kind.

Much love,

your BETTER half

This article was featured in the 2022 Dear Cancer issue of Elephants and Tea Magazine! Click here to read our magazine issues.

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