Today is the 4th of July, Independence Day in the United States. I am just back from enjoying our local fireworks display with my husband and kids.

Independence Day is about freedom. A cancer diagnosis, with all of it’s negatives, does grant some new freedoms.

For awhile just after my diagnosis, it was assumed I was terminally ill. On a plane to New York City, I suddenly thought of how cool it would be to FLY the jet airliner I was on. Wouldn’t it be a rush to be in control of the plane, to be actually FLYING the plane? Before cancer I’d been afraid to be a passenger on a plane, I used to be afraid of dying in a plane crash. When I thought I was dying anyway, I suddenly got bold– potential death was no longer a deterrent. I suddenly thought flight school might be great. I was free of my fear of flying.

I also suddenly lost my fear of playing piano publicly. I now play piano professionally for hundreds of people. Now it’s not a big deal if I make a mistake, I just keep playing. Before cancer a mistake made publicly would stop me cold, I’d panic and be unable to play until I started the song again from the beginning. Thanks to cancer I am now free of that fear, I no longer have stage fright.

Small fears I’d had suddenly seemed insignificant when facing cancer. I’ve talked to other cancer patients who experienced the same thing. Small fears evaporated. They found new freedoms in many ways.

I also became free of my fear of death. After looking death in the face over and over for days, months and years, I’ve come to accept it on every level. I fine-tuned my faith, I gave all of my trust to God. Now death to me is just a door to a new beginning, a temporary separation from those I love. It will be a transition to a place where things will be right, where I will be home, where my body will forever be whole. I totally trust in an eternal life, now I look forward to Heaven all of the time.

I have one great fear left. A fear of not fulfilling whatever purpose I am here on this earth for. A fear of not using my life and time and experiences in a purposeful and meaningful way. A fear of not repaying the gift I was given of several more years with my husband and kids. The gift I was given of being here to watch my kids grow up, of being a part of their lives. I feel I have a great debt to repay. I fear not honoring that gift.