I have learned in my life that our lives really are divided into different "chapters", as this quote implies. Beginnings, endings and lots of "middle parts". When I look at my life, I can "break" it into these "before" and "after" moments, and all of them were pivotal turning points in my life.
First there was my childhood/adolescent years, where I was growing, learning, and being cared for by my parents. Then came my college years when I was on my own, free to do what I please, learning about myself, and figuring out what I wanted in life. Those years were great experiences, as it was during those times that I really found out who I was. Next came marriage which was probably the most pivotal point in my life up to that point. Instead of being on your own, now you have a partner that you have chosen to commit yourself to and share your life with. I didn't anticipate that my life would get better after marriage, but it did. I was happy on my own, but with my husband, I was happier and more complete, if that was even possible. Sure, we had our challenges as newlyweds, but we grew more in love over those first few years and shared some amazing, memorable times together. We grew together and truly became "companions" to one another.
Next to getting married, having children was the next most pivotal moment in our lives. There was "before" kids and then "after" kids. Our life changed even more once we brought children into the world. And even though I feared losing our independence and freedom once we had kids, our world changed for the better. Parenthood made us more selfless, more empathetic, more loving, more protective, more cautious, and more patient. I remember thinking the first few months of our first son's life, "What did we do before we had kids?" We just couldn't imagine our lives without our kids.
The next "before" and "after" moment of my life occurred when I was diagnosed with cancer. There was before cancer--I often took my health and life for granted, never thinking that I, of all people, would get cancer at my young age. The thought just never crossed my mind. I was too busy planning for the future, running in 10 different directions all at once, taking care of our family, stressing over things like finances, raising our boys, and where we would be in 5, 10 years.
After cancer, I felt like a different, more confident and self-assured person. I have a greater perspective, I appreciate life more, I enjoy the simpler things in life, I have more patience and humility, I have more trust and faith in God, and most importantly, I have more love and compassion for others.
Can cancer be a blessing? For me, it was.
Cancer truly changed my life for the better. It transformed me and it made me a stronger person. I am grateful for this new chapter in my life--my life after cancer.