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    Cancer Taught Me How to Deal with Heartbreak

    It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard once or twice…“Thank God _____ happened!”Personally, this has haunted me for years; thirteen to be exact. Thirteen years ago, I went out for ice cream and came back with cancer. Sounds crazy, right? Well I may have left out a few details…

    To make a long story short, I was in a car accident. It was a summer night, and I was on my way home from getting ice cream. While being examined after the accident, a large mass was discovered in my chest. Two weeks later, after many tests, I found out I had cancer.

    From then on when I tell my story, the only response I ever hear is, “Thank God you were in that accident!”

    It’s a nice thought, really. I get how people are trying to find the positive in a devastating situation. But honestly, at 19 years old…it was the last thing I wanted to hear. And thirteen years later, I’m still getting the “Thank God ____ happened!” response, and I think my eye twitches a little bit every time I hear it.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I am thankful I was in that accident because who knows if we would have found the cancer before it was too late! But still…something about the “what ifs” starts to get the better of me. And in the past year for me, life went from being the most exciting time to probably the one thing more devastating than cancer: heartbreak.

    I would imagine as a parent, watching your child go to battle with cancer is heartbreaking. My poor mom; not only did she have a sick kid, she had a sick “young adult” who wasn’t very pleasant to begin with. She was definitely heartbroken, but she’s tough as nails and never let me see it.

    So, when heartbreak happened to me earlier this year, it was the first time in my life that I knew what pain really was. Cancer wasn’t painful, it was inconvenient. But this current situation was true, raw pain.

    I found myself reflecting back on the “cake walk” that cancer was. I found myself back in the same “Thank God ____ happened!” mindset before I made the potentially biggest mistake of my life. This time, when it was something I really cared about, I finally understood.

    We learn our life lessons in many ways. People say that “everything happens for a reason” or that it “builds character”. Throughout my life experiences, I definitely learned some things; some were easy, some were hard. In the end, it’s doesn’t matter what life throws at you: cancer, heartbreak, loss… what matters is what you do with those experiences. They are what make you who you are.

    As much as I hate to admit “everything happens for a reason”, it does. There is a master plan that we don’t necessarily create, but we navigate between the good and the bad. We use life’s teachable moments to feed who we are and how we live our lives. Many of my survivor friends have expressed feelings of “little things don’t matter anymore” or how big things become little things when real big things happen.

    As much as I’d like to forget or pretend like I never had cancer, I did. And it was a big deal, until the next big deal came along. I think about what that experience taught me, and how it made me the person I am today. I’m strong, smart, determined, compassionate, and optimistic. I’m able to find the positive in all things because I’ve seen that it’s not a “big deal”. Learning to have a thick skin through cancer helped me understand that heartbreak really isn’t so bad.

    It could be worse and in the end: I’m a Survivor.

    So the next time someone says, “Thank God ____ happened!”, I’ll suppress my twitchy eye and say, “Yes, I’m thankful every day.”

     


    About the Author

    UntitledKaren L. Rector is one of our 13thirty participants! She graduated from St. John Fisher College in 2007 with a B.S. in Management – Marketing. She currently works at Windstream Communications in the HR – Training & Development Department as an Instructional Designer. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to local festivals and hosting parties.

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    13thirty Fit – Working Out Together!

    You know that exercise is always more challenging with a friend. Whether you’re hitting the gym together, being nutrition-conscious, or meeting up for a run, you help each other reach your goals and feel great together at the same time! Now imagine a class of about 10 people, specifically designed for those of us who have come through surgeries, undergoing cancer treatments of various degrees, and various levels of fitness capabilities. Talk about upping the ante!

    At 13Thirty Fit, every Wednesday night, we are pushed, challenged and changed together. We are choosing to make time for ourselves, encouraging each other—no matter what our week has looked like, what difficult situations we’ve faced, or how we’re feeling!

    Katlyn Hutchings - NutritionistKatlyn Hutchings – Nutritionist

    Another big piece of 13thirty Fit is nutrition. This past Wednesday, we were taken back to our childhood snacks (in this case, “ants on a log” with locally produced Once Again Nut Butter) and discussed the importance of a whole-foods and nutrient-rich diet. Exercise is important, but what you put in to your body is even more vital to daily health!

    As we build up to two 5Ks this May, I’m determined to keep pushing the limits and challenging myself. Cancer is a tough battle and knowing that you’re surrounded by a community of like-minded friends, who are working hard right alongside of you, is so uplifting and inspiring. Making our bodies fit, healthy and strong is the goal—but growing together and creating a safe, understanding community as we continue on our journey is the true reward.

     

     

    About the Author

    Sabrina_photoSabrina is one of the awesome young adult survivors participating in 13thirty Fit! To read more of Sabrina’s work, visit her website, sabrinagauer.com