Kathi Nailling, Staff Writer


I  find it hard to believe it has been 10 years since I heard those words “Your tumor is malignant.”

I consider my cancerversary Oct. 1. I found my tumor on Sept. 20, 2004. I had the cancer removed from my body on Nov. 4, 2004, followed by chemotherapy and radiation.

Currently, I am living “Cancer Free.”

As I reflect back on those dark days after diagnoses, I would never have imagined my life in 10 years. In that time, my cancer has become only a distant memory.  

There are days those memories don't  seem quite so distant – like it was yesterday.

I still bear the scars from my surgery 10 years earlier. My experience with cancer has possibly changed my life forever.

Whether it is seven months or 20 years, most of us can remember the day we heard those dreadful words “You have cancer.”

Some of my friends can tell you the day, hour and minute they heard their diagnoses. I don't quite have that good of memory.

Those words will follow me for the rest of my life.  In some ways, having cancer made me a better person.

Since being diagnosed with cancer, I am more acute of the reality of those living with the disease. My treatment only lasted about six months, but made a lasting impression on me.

My hope for those facing grueling cancer treatment today, is that  you can look at someone like myself, or someone who has been through the same thing, and know there is light at the end of the tunnel. Don't ever give up.

One of my favorite quotes is, “You can face any bend in the road, if you have the right people holding your hand.”

I had the right people holding my hand, and helping me all the way.

When I think about the past 10 years, cancer was a minor obstacle I overcame.

The world we live in can become unpredictable and sometimes frightening.  We don't know what the future will bring.  

In the past few years, I have lost my husband, Jackie, to cancer. In addition, my son, Justin, has had quadruple bypass surgery, because of two heart attacks. I still believe I am a lucky person for having known Jackie, and still having my son, Justin.

There are many things in life no one can teach us. We must experience situations, in order to better understand what it means to be human.

Cancer has given me more compassion. Before cancer, I was so busy living my own life, I never  noticed all the people around me who may be suffering.

I have learned tolerance. Little things that used to seem to big are no longer important. My theory - take care of the big problems. The little things will take care of themselves. Stop and smell the roses.

Every bump is the road is just another stepping stone to our path in life.  Time heals all wounds, and we become stronger human beings for having triumphed over adversities.

From  Ecclesiastes 3:1 - To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.

Here's to another 10 years.  

Kathi Nailling is a Staff Writer for the Athens Daily Review.

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