Editor’s Note: We are always amazed at the resilience and positive approach that so many families living with cancer are able to adopt. How a potentially fatal diagnosis can be turned into a Silver Lining in their life and one they end up being grateful to have endured. We feel these stories can serve as inspiration no matter what your struggle might be.
Today is the cancerversary. Four years ago today the doctors came to Sophia’s hospital room to check in with us. We were waiting for their visit. Sophia had been brought in the night before, the cause of her illness yet to be determined. We were prepared to hear that she’d had a reaction to medication she’d been taking a few weeks earlier. Nothing prepared us for what was said next, “Why don’t you come with us to the conference room.” We were told Sophia had acute lymphoblastic leukemia and that she would begin treatment right away. It was a lot to take in and honestly the first week was a bit of a blur. What I do remember very clearly was the love and support we received – it seemed as if each day brought a new blessing.
Our friends and family went into overdrive. My sister was by my side every day with soy lattes, bistro boxes and laughs. Sophia was showered with gifts from family, friends and people we didn’t even know. Her name was added to prayer lists in Catholic, Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran, Jewish and non-denominational churches and synagogues. The support truly helped us get through the difficult times.
They say a family trauma has the potential to break a family apart. Sophia’s cancer had the opposite effect on us. The five of us became even closer. Our time together became incredibly important. We adopted mindfulness as a way of being in the moment and cherishing each other. Even today, we try to have dinner together every single night, working around sports schedules. Some nights it’s diner at 4:30, some nights it’s 7:30. But we sit together in gratitude and share the best or funniest thing that happened to us that day.
For a while, we would categorize our lives as BC (before cancer) and AD (after diagnosis) as if we had lived two very different lifetimes. The first being a time of innocence and joy, the second being reality. Remembering an event or date we’d say, “That was about one month BC” or “That must have been about 3 months AD judging by her hair.” We don’t do much of that anymore. The whole cancer diagnosis seems to have been woven into our family timeline so tightly that there no longer seems to be a before and after – only a continuing story.
I love our story and I’m fairly certain each one of us, even Sophia, would agree- we wouldn’t change a thing. On this fourth cancerversary, we will celebrate our many blessings, grateful for each other and all those that are a part of our lives. There may also be some ice cream involved.