I feel led to share some thoughts with you. Some of these thoughts are a little premature since you recently received your diagnosis and it will probably take you a while to get over the shock. Perhaps you can keep this letter and refer back to it should you choose. This is a journey and the journey is different for each of us.

When I was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma, every morning when I awakened, tears came into my eyes. It wasn’t so much of a “why me” but the real thought that I could die soon. I was also facing a major operation, having all the lymph nodes removed from my left thigh—and I was afraid. I never did get over my apprehension of the operation. The morning I had the surgery, I just gave myself over to God. I had no other choice. But they have come so far with surgery–you go to sleep and before you know it, you wake up in the recovery room.

We don’t know what we are supposed to feel in the early stages. But I eventually learned that all the crying and worrying in the world was not going to help. I learned that I would cry and then move on and cry again soon. Another challenge is all the uncertainty about what’s going to happen, what kind of treatment I will have, and what each day is going to hold for me.

It has been almost three years since I got my diagnosis. Following are some things I’ve learned:

Sometimes I feel happier than I ever have in my life because I am able to see the urgency to celebrate every day. Each day is a gift filled with the potential to change someone’s life. Our legacy is created by our daily thoughts and actions. If we embrace the life we have been given, we can find more joy and happiness than we ever dreamed possible.

Photo by Sergey Zolkin