I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty-three. With all honesty, being diagnosed at the time was not a real shock to me. I never asked the “Why me” questions. Instead, I actually started to ask, “What does God have in store for me?” or “What does he want me to do with my diagnosis?” I knew there was a purpose; I just had to figure it out.
Often times I knew if I spoke my mind, if I talked about what happened to me, that maybe, just maybe I could help save someone’s life. A year later, that life presented itself. My sister called and said, “Angela, I have cancer.” At that time, her diagnosis was the same as my original diagnosis – pre-cancer, stage zero. I was thrilled to hear it was caught at an early stage. That sense of ease I had about her cancer didn’t last long. Very quickly her cancer stage jumped to stage three. Two tumors and eight lymph nodes were involved in that jump. My heart sank.
Now, I’ll admit, I cried a little hearing my sister’s news at first. (Actually, I cried more over her cancer than I ever did over mine. I had a feeling it was because I couldn’t control her and her outcome like I was able to control mine.) What put me over the edge, where the tear flood gates opened for hours, was one small thing my sister had said to me. To this day, I think about it, holding the memory tight as a reminder to keep doing what I’m doing. My sister, as hard as it was to say, said, “Thank you. Thank you for saving my life.”
That was it! The tears began to flow, slow at first, and then became heavier as we talked. God put me in a position to save a life. I never knew that life would be my sister’s. Once I hung up the phone with my sister, I called my mom, and cried some more. I told my husband when he came home from work, and cried again. Every time I speak to a group of people giving them my cancer story, and each time I mention that day I was thanked, I cry some more. As I’m writing this, reliving the memory, tears are flowing. How could it not? It was such a heart-felt thank you coming from one of the people that means the most to me.
I’m hoping that by telling you my story, that you too can put yourself out there like my sister did. Thank the people that supported you. Thank the people that were there to hold your hand, wiped your tears, and provided you with lots of encouragement. A thank you goes a very long way and could easily mean more to that person than you may ever know.
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