Stories of hope

Anna Presser

KathySurvivor since 2002

When I was diagnosed in October of 2002, I was a single mom with four kids, ages 4, 10, 14 and 16. My first thought was “what’s going to happen to my kids if something happens to me?” Fears were somewhat allayed in about 10 days when I learned that my breast cancer was very contained and treatable with a mastectomy, no chemo or radiation was necessary. I was still very frightened but I was one of the “lucky ones.” Surgery and the reconstruction process took about seven months and after that, I’ve been cancer free!

When I was first diagnosed, a friend, whose husband was a cancer survivor, told me to believe in serendipity, that good things would come from having cancer. I remember thinking that she was certifiably crazy but, in the end, she was right.

Lessons I learned from cancer:

  • 1. Suddenly the colors of life and love became incredibly vibrant and alive. All the little things that I never noticed suddenly appeared and were spectacularly beautiful, like I was seeing or hearing them for the first time. Things that I used to take for granted, like the smell of my 4 year old’s hair, a hug out of the blue from one of my sons, my daughter’s beautiful singing voice all became crystal clear and the joy they brought was almost tangible.

  • 2. All of life’s daily little pressures become totally irrelevant. All the “things” that used to be important weren’t anymore. Family, friends and people were the only things that mattered.

  • 3. I became acutely aware of the kindness of people. Whenever I was afraid, a cancer survivor suddenly seemed to appear out of nowhere, sensing something, and would be of great comfort to me. This happened in the hospital, the doctor’s office waiting room and even the grocery store.

  • 4. People from school, church—everywhere—appeared bringing food, books and movies … and everlasting friendships. I made friends that I never would have met otherwise and I cherish every one of them.

  • 5. I have been incredibly blessed in so many ways … one being the wonderful lessons I learned from cancer.

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