S.T.A.R.S. Arizona

It Will Become What You Make of It

Sara Therese Moore
Marana, AZ

Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia, 2015

1. What was the darkest moment in your cancer journey?
During my cancer journey I used my blog as a sort of journal, purging my struggles and triumphs into the vast space of the internet. My darkest moment came five days after being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance and this is part of a blog post I wrote about that time:

“…I lay in the dark, silent tears rolling down my face. They follow the path of previous tears and I don’t bother to wipe them away. Yesterday had been my hardest day. It started with a wave of dizziness, followed by pain in my chest, as I struggled to get my breath. A rush of doctors and nurses surrounded me, while my parents stood quietly to one side. A respiratory therapist tried to give me a mask but my hand shook and I couldn’t find my face. Later, I could hear my step-mom asking questions of the hospitalist quietly outside the cracked door.

“I’m sorry. She’s very, very sick,” was the only response I heard.

Now, in the quiet of the night, I cried… not for myself, but for my daughter and parents. I knew what it meant to lose a mother, and I knew what it meant to lose a child. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

The blue of the night was replaced by the warm light of dawn peeking through the crooked slats of my window. The flow of doctors and nurses would soon begin, each entering my room with masks and kind eyes that hinted at their hidden smiles.

Sprinkled between these visits were medications, blood draws, bone marrow biopsies, and the sound of my family’s cheerful voices. They told stories to fill the silent hours and lighten the heaviness that crowded the corners of my thoughts.

The soft spoken oncologist entered my room and I could see it pained him to tell me he didn’t have news on my biopsy yet. For the next half an hour, he answered all of the questions I asked; questions based in fear followed by answers I didn’t hear…”

It would be 11 days before I was given a diagnoses of acute promyelocytic leukemia, the most aggressive form of leukemia. Feeling my body dying, and knowing I was going to leave my daughter motherless, was the hardest.

2. If you could go back and talk to your pre-cancer self, what would you say?
My pre-cancer self was innocent and unsuspecting of any health issues; arrogant in her healthiness and immortality. I’d tell her to listen to her body. Don’t ignore the signs that she’s ill. I’d also tell her that she’s strong. Much stronger than she gives herself credit. And that, despite the unbearable hardships she’d face in the coming year, she’d find a wear to bear it. She would come to own the word ‘survivor’ by showing up to the cancer center every day, making soul connections as she fought her way back to life.

3. How has cancer changed you?
I’ve been shown the beauty of the human spirit. Unselfish, compassionate human beings have appeared in abundance and if I ever questioned my worth in this world, I will never do so again. I know I’m loved.

I let the trivial fall away, cherish authentic relationships, live and speak my truth. I’m quick to hug, and slow to leave. I value kindness above all else.

We don’t know when our time on this earth will end. Cancer took a distant death deadline that I never thought about, and shoved it in my face for examination. Remission has allowed me to distance myself from the inevitable once again, but keeps my mortality present enough to appreciate each day. In a very real and powerful way, I know that today is a gift and my 2nd Act is to recognize the perfection in all experiences.

4. What motivated you to pursue your 2nd Act?
While talking with my daughter one day, shortly after being diagnosed, she encouraged me to share my cancer journey with the world through my blog: Sarandipity Travels.

I took her advice and my hope has been that being transparent in my writing will help others to cope with their own struggles. We all have a story to tell and being vulnerable enough to bare our souls so we can be fully embraced and understood, is one of the most beautiful experiences in life.

5. What has been your brightest moment in your 2nd Act?
Sharing my cancer journey with the world has been a two way exchange. I put my stories out there, and the love that flows back is exponential. Every time I hear from someone that relates in some way, it’s a bright moment.

6. Where do you see yourself going from here?
I’m a photographer and artist and am just now getting back to this passion. To jumpstart my creativity I’ve begun a 365 project – creating a fine art photo a day for a year. The doctors and nurses have healed my body. Being creative each day is how I’m healing my soul.

7.What’s your favorite quote and how does it fit into your 2nd Act?
“It is what it is, but it will become what you make of it.”
I believe in finding the perfection and opportunity in all experiences, and this quote reminds me to do that.

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