The Little Things: How Cancer Taught Me To Cherish What's Really Important In Life

by Lyndsay Reyes

Cancer: It’s the dreaded C-word we try to keep taboo in our already insane world. We hope to never endure it and we hope to never endure the pain of a loved one suffering. Sadly and realistically, we are all going to know at least one person who is diagnosed throughout our lives.

In the past month, two important people in my life were diagnosed with the C-word. My grandfather, a strong and almighty fighter who refuses to admit he has the disease, and a friend who was once very special to me.

Hearing the news of both of these cases brought me to tears. I cried and questioned my religious beliefs as one always does in bad times, but more importantly, I accepted it.

Have you ever watched a flower slowly wilt after it sits in your room for weeks after Valentine’s Day? Or watched as the rain casts away the life of an insect? You see, cancer takes a beautiful being and breaks it down.

It deteriorates the affected person from the inside out and there is nothing you can do to change this. It’s life: We can’t stop biology and we can’t stop the life cycle.

The most important thing I have learned in my 20 years of watching friends, family and acquaintances battle this disease is to realize what is important in life. When someone is diagnosed with something this tragic, you must put every argument, every grudge and every meaningless battle to an end.

It is amazing to see how much love can keep a sick person alive and well when it is given whole heartedly. I have watched others and myself put all negative feelings aside for the sake of the one who has been robbed of his or her livelihood.

We spend so much time wrapped up in the excitement of petty drama or mindless relationships that we often forget who and what is important to us. Sadly, it often takes a tragedy for us to realize this.

We need to remind ourselves that at any moment we could be put in a similar position. Is hating your ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend going to matter? Is that fight with your best friend over a rumor going to matter? Absolutely not.

What is going to matter is how respectful of a woman his new girlfriend is, or how trustworthy your best friend is, even when you're mad at her. We have to set aside the thoughts that our anger conjures up toward those who have hurt us. We have to remember how alive they once made us feel.

Cancer has taught me to love harder than before, to forgive and make amends. It has taught me to grace all of those I encounter with a smile, and it has taught me to live.

Am I okay with watching my loved ones suffer? Of course not. But I am understanding of the atrocious conditions that come along with this disease and don’t feel that any good human should encounter such pain.

Being realistic rather than solely optimistic is the only way to conquer the heartache caused by this obstacle. Remind those in your life how much you appreciate them.

Simply telling someone to put his or her seatbelt on or asking how someone's day was will shout your love loud enough. You never know when you will face a hardship.

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