You know those things that you know happen but you don’t think it could happen to you or to someone you love. You think surely that can never happen to us. The truth is we are never sure of what can happen in the space of few hours or for me six months of the hardest year of my life.
Everybody knows somebody who has been affected by cancer. As though I watched close family friends and people, I never felt the full tragic destruction of it. I never fully knew how it felt and the impact of it.
That was until 2021 hit. My grandparents were both being treated with their cancer. Both together held each other up and pushed through each day. My grandma's health started to decline and before we knew it, she was in the hospital. At first, we thought she would be able to come out and keep being treated at home but we all soon realised she will never be coming home. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to her and lay her to rest. My pop still battles this illness every single day he is a fighter and I know she would be so proud of his continued fight to be here with us.
What felt like heartbreak in my life started to feel even deeper when I found out my dad, my everything, the strongest person I know was diagnosed with cancer. I was not only dealing with the grief of losing my grandma but then had to come to terms with the fact my dad was only just beginning his cancer journey.
I think at first you feel shocked like it doesn’t feel real. Especially because things felt confusing. You are left with so many unknowns and unanswered questions. At first, we were told that it was nothing to worry about to then a few weeks later it changes to dad needing a life-saving operation. Seeing my dad who always is so strong start to show his vulnerability hit home. It wasn’t easy watching him doubt his future and see his positive we can get through this mindset be challenged.
Dads operation was successful and he is starting to slowly heal and return to his normal life. Yesterday I saw that spark of life back in his eyes again. My dad loves fishing and as we were walking along the beach together, he was so excited to return to the beach with a fishing rod and teach my son Lucas how to fish. The joy in his eyes as he explained how much he wants Lucas to catch his first fish with him. I thought in my mind, “You did it, dad”!
At that moment I truly admired his strength and how far along his come on his journey. My pop and my dad continue to inspire me every single day. They have not completely won their battle but both determined to fight for a life they deserve to live. They inspire me to get up and show up every day no matter how I feel.
As though cancer has hit my life so deeply this year it has also taught me some valuable lessons;
1. Life is precious every single little moment of it. Life can change so quickly, don’t ever take moments for granted.
2. Find the silver lining in any bad situation, sometimes you have to look hard; sometimes it's right in front of you and you just have to open your eyes.
3. Never give up.
4. Never forget to tell the people you love that you love them.
5. Laugh. Often, hard, and deeply. Embrace the good days.
6. It's ok to cry, be scared or not know what to do next. You just can't let that keep you from life.
7. Sometimes you need to lean on the strength of the people around you.
8. It's ok to talk it out, no matter how many times you say the same thing. Say it over and over again until you feel like you’ve said it enough.
9. Nobody knows what others are going through always walk past someone and smile. You never really know how much they needed that smile.
10. Never underestimate human strength. If we believe it we are all strong enough to get through anything.
I will never forget the start of 2021. As though it was a year of pure heartbreak and sadness it has taught me life lessons that I will hold for the rest of my life. The hardiest times can open your heart in so many beautiful ways. Never underestimate true heartbreak it can make you live more passionately. 2021 isn't over it yet, it's only the beginning. The only direction from here is up!