Fifteen years cancer free
What does it mean to me?
It means I am still here doing things
Honoring those in the fight that have gained their wings.
Fifteen years cancer free
It means the world to me.

My life has been full of little miracles
Each day may have its small obstacles
And I smile knowing I am thankful for the day
And any struggles that might come my way

Thankful for the chance to make mistakes and grow
And learn more than I think I know
Thankful for the family, friends, doctors, nurses and team
Knowledge, love and kindness that make my heart beam.

I was given time to be
A wife, a mom, a provider,
A chance to see
What it’s like to hold the hands of patients just like me
To share my story of hope each day
Things have come full circle or so they say
We all learn from each other in our own way.

Fifteen years cancer free
Brings back memories of when they diagnosed me.
There is no way to forget
The bargaining with god and the universe
Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst.

There were times I couldn’t see my inner light
I was numb and didn’t have enough to fight
It all seems a few lifetimes ago
There was so much I didn’t know.

I still remember sitting on the bathroom floor
The unstoppable nausea where you throw everything up and more
My family waited by the door
They wanted to help, to take it all away

When I said leave me alone
They would stay.
I didn’t want them to see my tears
I wanted to be strong but I was full of fears
I wanted space but needed care
They were my voice, my advocates
They made sure I kept them near.

 I still remember waking up to hair all over the bed
Trying to figure out what to do with a bald head
Wearing a wig when I didn’t want anyone to know
Being natural when strength was what I wanted to show
Still trying to spend time with friends
Pretending I didn’t care
Trying to ignore when they would stare.

I still remember the overpowering exhaustion
That would come after each round of radiation
The silent room with white walls and endless space
The cold metal table that was like no other place.

And if you have ever been in the hospital for weeks
You know how easily sanity leaks.
Stuck in one room day and night
I walked the halls holding my IV pole tight
Keeping my strength was a fight
Especially once I lost my appetite
There was this feeling that I was swallowing glass
Losing weight and praying the symptoms would pass
Having to get IV nutrition
That was my hardest admission

Then comes discharge home
Excitement mixed with the fear of being alone
The longing to recover
No more nurses or doctors over to hover
But all the strength that it takes to go up one step felt too hard
The smells, sounds, triggers that no one discusses leave us scarred
Still needing someone to help me
Trying my best to just be
In the moment, one breath at a time
Then one foot in front of the other
Then day by day, month by month to a healthy recovery.

 Fifteen years cancer free
Sometimes I feel guilty
Not knowing why I am so lucky.
When this experience becomes part of your story
You are humbled by an unwanted glory
Earning the title survivor
Not certain you are a believer
It’s easy to get discouraged
When your story is challenged
Thinking of the what if’s brings back fear
So many unknowns in this life we hold dear
It’s hard to have hope in times like these
Keep persevering to be free of disease.

When you feel you might not survive
Don’t give up hope because
Fifteen years later you might thrive.

So whether you are in the start of your fight
Or still struggling to find your light
Remember that tomorrow is another day
We cannot always see the gifts that will come our way
Every struggle, every problem, every mistake,
Every miracle, every chance to live and learn, every day awake
Has led to a blessed future I would have never dreamt
Fifteen years ago when I wasn’t sure what hope really meant
This is why fifteen years cancer free
means the world to me.