Kanika doesn't claim to be an expert on staying positive, but as a patient mom she's had a lot of practice. She shares some of her experience at keeping her head up during challenging times like those we face with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Positivity is a necessary characteristic – for everyone. For me it is a “must-have,” especially since we found out my son, Nikalis, had cancer.
When he was 10 months old, Nikalis was diagnosed with adrenal cortical carcinoma, a malignant tumor about the size of a grapefruit in his adrenal gland. I was rocked to my core. I thought it was an immediate death sentence for this little, beautiful baby that had only recently entered the world and become mine ... my son. I was completely terrified.
I was pregnant with his little sisters – twins – when we got our diagnosis. The staff at our local hospital was afraid I was going to go into labor in his hospital room because I wouldn't leave his side before or after surgery.
His adrenal gland was removed, which would lead to lifelong endocrine issues, but it turns out there was more. We were told Nikalis has Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, a form of cancer predisposition. With this news, I have felt every emotion that “bad news” can bring.
But when you feel the weight of the world crushing you, that is when you must rise up for air. Times like now, when we are struggling through this pandemic.
So what is positivity? To me, it’s the art of being optimistic in the midst of an uncomfortable moment or situation. It’s what I like to call an “inner uplift” that displays outwardly. That outward part is huge for me. Smiling and displaying happiness to others helps me to stay positive, especially when times seem really challenging or hopeless. When I set out to uplift someone else, it not only recharges my battery, it might just jump start theirs.
Nikalis’s Li-Fraumeni Syndrome increases the likelihood that cancer could attack him again at any time. The condition will always be with him, and that means it's never really over. But St. Jude, where he's now a patient, makes sure he's watched very closely, so anything that arises will be caught quickly. My God and my faith, family, friends and also my St. Jude family – these are my help, my strength and my support system. These are everything to me!
Our situation has taught me to practice patience and not to live too far in the future. Worrying doesn’t make results come faster. Imagining things that haven’t happened doesn’t keep them at bay.
Of course, the current worldwide situation is a new and different thing, but I can still put what I’ve learned into practice. And if things start to feel like too much, first and foremost I temporarily remove the source of the fear and anxiety. For instance, the news. It’s okay to take a break and choose something else that will uplift inner positivity: a funny movie, a game, a phone call to a loved one. I’d say a hug, but we can’t do that right now! But the emotional equivalent of a hug sent to someone you love or someone you don’t even know – it helps.
We had bad news with Nikalis twice, but today he's the most lively, bubbly, happy little boy on the planet. He’s in the 2nd grade and has received an Honor Roll certificate from school for making all As. He was so excited to show us his accomplishments, and I was excited for him. His favorite subject is math, and he is a natural on the basketball court. I cheer for all the children, but I’m sure I cheer extra hard for him!
We are very blessed – and that leads me to another way I practice positivity. When I focus on my blessings, I find them multiplying before my eyes. It could be they are hidden by shadows temporarily falling over your life. Shine a light, and find your blessings.