I’ll never forget the day I was told three words that broke my heart: You have cancer.
In that moment, everything seemed to slip away. The career that I was working so hard for, the family I was hoping to grow, and the world I wanted to explore felt unreachable and far from reality. In that moment I knew if I soaked in what was happening I would emotionally break. So I did what I have always chosen to do, navigating through the uncertainty by finding joy! That night I was on a mission and it was to share the news with those closest to me. My partner and I were in complete shock and rather than sitting in these feelings we drove to my parent’s house to tell them the news. When I told my parents, I remember reminding them that we would get through this. I did what I do best, I made them laugh and shared joy with them because I didn’t want any of us to break. Next day, I called my closest friends and shared the news with relatives. I remember reminding myself and everyone that I would get through this because of my privileges of having a support network, healthcare, and the mental capacity to take on the journey that lay ahead.
Now I’m almost eight years post-treatment and cancer free. I have had so many opportunities to experience joy. And most importantly what I have learned to do is to break. To break the cycle of avoiding grief, fear, and sadness. Although these feelings never bring joy right away they are definitely a pathway to real joy. If I could give advice to a person going through cancer, it would be to accept the uncomfortable feelings because they will surface and that at the end of these uncomfortable feelings is joy.
Sometimes joy is breaking.
By Desiree Zuniga