25 Years of Living and 9 Years Post-Cancer Diagnosis

Sooo, I wrote this the week I turned 25 (back in July), but I never shared.
Since it has a lot to do with my cancer diagnosis at age 16 and the growth that’s happened in my life over the past few years entering young adulthood, I figured that this week, being the 9th anniversary of that diagnosis, was a better time than ever to share my reflections.

Here ya go:

When I look around this season of my life, it’s easy to find myself or even my peers with a negative attitude – more so than in seasons past. I have always been an extremely positive person, and when I was sick fighting cancer it would irritate me so much when someone would complain about the slightest little thing. I would think, “At least you’re alive. Really, at the end of the day, that’s all that matter. Be thankful!”

The farther away I get from the girl I was in those moments, I find myself fighting to keep her mentality.

This season is a hard one for most people, I think. I think you find out more about yourself in your early 20’s than any other season. (so far…) You fumble your way into adulthood putting all this pressure on yourself to at least appear like you have your act together so that you stand a fighting chance at survival, just to find out that no one really has it figured out. And it’s WAY harder than anyone ever let on that it would be. (And WAY more expensive.) Often you’re living pay-check-to-pay-check and sometimes you feel stuck, like nothing’s ever going to change. Like this season is what will always be. But it’s not. I believe it will get better and the things that feel like struggle are bricks that are being laid as a foundation for the rest of your life. It has to be hard now so that we’re ready when later hits.

And what I’ve found, is that when I look back over the last few years, I am not the same. The girl who didn’t really know what she was getting herself into but just took a big leap of faith – she was brave then, but she is strong now.

I don’t want to lose her heart. The way she did things just because she knew it was the right thing to do and she loved it, regardless of what it cost her. Regardless of the life she’d have to let go of to make things work.

I don’t like being around people who are stressed all the time. I don’t like who I am when I am stressed. I don’t like who I am when I complain. And if I’m not intentional, I can be really good at both of those things – stress and complaining.

When I think about who I want to be and how I want to be remembered, I want to be the person who smiled all the time. Who always had something positive to say even when things weren’t good. There will always be something to stress you out or motivate you to complain. Choose joy anyways.

My mom gives the very best advice of any person I know. She prays every day that God would speak to her and through her, so when she opens her mouth, you sense Him in a more powerful way. She recently said to me,

“It’s just a season.
Don’t hate it.
Be thankful.
The Lord has great rewards for your faithfulness to His calling.”

That is wisdom. That is perspective. That is faith. I want that with everything in me.

When I turned 20, 21, 22, 23..people said, “You’re so young! Enjoy it.” People still tell me that. And I’ve always wondered why, in spite of the fact that people tell me I’m young, that I’ve always felt so old.

Then I realized that at 16, I lived an entire lifetime by almost dying. And as much of a curse as it could’ve been or tries to be, to live so fully immersed in every moment because you want life to be as rich as possible – to understand the depth of regret you will have over places unseen and words unsaid and missions unfulfilled when you leave this life – to sense the urgency of every fleeting breath that brings us closer to our last – now that, is a gift. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I am thankful for every situation and every person that has brought me to where I am, good or bad. And I am inexpressibly thankful for the God that handcrafted me for this journey and has carried me along the way. I really believe that 25 will be the best year yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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