Rebuilding life after a significant loss can be difficult, and can even feel impossible. My oldest brother and my son both passed away unexpectedly, sixteen days apart, when I was in my mid-twenties. Those events broke me, and filled me with fear and anxiety. And even though I kept on going, slow and steady, grief still had a strong grip on me. I was mentally exhausted and empty. That lasted until I was faced with my own mortality. Fifteen years after they passed away, I received a wake-up call that helped me to regain my life: Hodgkins Lymphoma. My diagnosis became an unexpected source of healing, and allowed me to find meaning and purpose while uncovering confidence that I never knew I had.

Bridging the gap between loss and a new life comes from the pain we endure, and from the unexpected sources of healing that help us find hope again. A cancer diagnosis is rarely looked as something positive, but it ended up being my first steps away from my past hurts, and my first steps towards a courageous future.

I felt like my time might be limited to the people I loved, and my thoughts and perspectives began to shift. Things that used to fill me with fear began fueling me with courage. My life began to change, and it flourished in every way. I began paying attention: to everyone and everything. Putting out my best became my mission, even when things weren’t executed perfectly.

I used my mistakes as opportunities to grow, rather than ways for me to feel defeated. My relationships became stronger, and I was finally happy again.

Using my pain to light the way for a courageous future is what inevitably restored my broken life. It became the final say in how I would choose to live from here on out: stronger, braver and bolder. It allowed me to come back healthier, more resilient, and fearless. It emboldened me to pursue writing, take risks, and enjoy my life, even if I didn’t have everyone I loved still in it. My pain was the foundation for rebuilding a new life because it forced me to appreciate what I had and look forward to what is still to come.

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