“Miracles” – by Rebecca Urato

Student stories

His diagnosis was sudden. One day my dad was the healthiest person I knew, and the next day he was lying in a hospital bed with a 20-centimeter tumor in his chest. In his original prognosis, my dad was given only two weeks left to live. However, after countless medical tests and long nights in the hospital, he was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of cancer.

This news wasn’t something that I could stomach immediately; it took me days to come to terms with the fact that my dad was dying. Only when the silence of my empty house became too deafening did I realize that his sickness was, in fact, a reality that I could not escape. But this realization didn’t make it any easier to accept his illness, and the constant fear of losing him soon became crippling. So, I discovered ways to distract myself. I learned that if I tried hard enough to convince myself that everything was fine, then I would start to believe it. Still, the days passed slowly, each bringing more bad news. My coping tactics did not help, they only made it harder to accept my dad’s worsening conditions. I tried to picture a future that ended in happiness – but I couldn’t. My dad was no more than a body fighting for life; devoid of the spirit he once had.

Nonetheless, my dad wasn’t ready to give up yet. He continued to battle cancer for another year, until he was granted a miracle, and was able to go into remission. More importantly, watching my dad fight tooth and nail for survival has completely altered my perspective on life as I knew it.

When my dad, the strongest man I have ever known was too weak from cancer to lift his head off of his pillow, I realized something. Miracles happen every second of the day, yet, most of us are completely oblivious to them. For me, it took a life or death situation to bring them to light. Every time we breathe, get out of bed, take a step, or lift food to our mouths we are the recipient of a miracle. However, so many of us are too caught up in the bigger picture that we tend to take the everyday necessities for granted. It is only when these needs are taken away that we realize how important they really are. Finally watching my dad go into remission, walking, and slowly taking care of himself again, I understood that life itself is truly a miracle.

Cancer does not just affect the individual with the diagnosis, but the whole network of family behind them. As the daughter of two sick parents, my life has been a fight from the start. Even writing this four years after my dad’s first diagnosis, I often get asked if it still hurts. As much as I would like to say “no,” I think it always will. But it hurts because I’m healing. Cancer is something that will never go away, even after remission. However, despite all of the pain it has caused me, I am now able to truly appreciate life for what it is. I am able to look past my troubles and pain and accept the small successes. I am able to step away from the fast pace of the modern world and realize how much of a miracle the little things in my life are.

Adversity is real, and it is raw, and it is tiring, but it can completely change your worldview for the better. It has been hard to tread the line between looking on the bright side of my situation and minimizing my trauma, but I have come to a point where I have completely accepted the trials I have faced and am trying to use them to make my life better. So, I ask you to breathe, look around you, and take note of the tiny miracles that you take for granted every day – even if everything else seems like it’s falling apart. However, I know this is hard. So, if you’re struggling right now and you can’t find the light at the end of the tunnel, that’s okay too. You are exactly where you need to be and your suffering is just as valid even if you can’t make any positives out of it.