"Thank You, Cancer."

Shalin's reflection below was written days after doctors confirmed his terminal prognosis and told him he had only six to nine months left to live. Despite the tragic circumstances, Shalin never allowed cancer to beat him or his spirit. In the last months of his life, he continued to live life to the fullest each and every day. His final wish was to inspire as many people as possible to recognize how perfect and beautiful life is -- and by that, achieve lasting happiness.

 

As you can imagine, this is not easy to write nor is it a simple story to tell, but we can’t help but to share Shalin’s incredible story and message with the world. Shalin’s legacy is about helping people achieve happiness in their lives, regardless of their circumstances. Here, we share his reflections in his fight against cancer as well as perspectives from the people whom he’s loved, danced with, cried with, laughed with and ultimately those whose lives he’s changed forever. His hope, and our hope, is that you too will understand why we thank cancer.

“Most people who I share my story with react the same way: "that's so sad" or "but you're so young, you still have so much more life ahead of you" or "I'm so sorry, this is so unfair." And at first -- yes, I thought so too. I thought my cancer was the most unfair trick life could play on me. I mean, having just graduated college, I was at the point where I could finally start life in the 'real world' and get a job and become independent. At a time when all of my friends were starting new jobs and moving to different places all around the world, I was stuck at home back with my parents receiving cancer treatment. Seemed pretty unfair to me.

 

Looking back now, I guess it has been a pretty crazy past year for me: studying abroad in Paris, graduating with honors from USC, training for the Peace Corps in Peru, being diagnosed with non-terminal cancer, learning I had terminal cancer...

 

For me, Feb. 5 was the day every cancer patient plays out in their heads over and over again and hopes never to actually have to experience. This was the day my doctor informed me and my parents that my cancer had spread to my brain and was now medically incurable, and that I had only a few months to live. In all of the hundreds of playbacks in my head of how I would take the news, I was always sobbing uncontrollably, utterly devastated...but the reality was far different from how I would have expected to react to the news. Sure, for the first five minutes I was sobbing uncontrollably as I had imagined, but then suddenly an overwhelming calm swept over me. As I stared out of my hospital room's window towards the Hollywood Hills, I was finally at peace, oddly accepting and fine with the news I had just received. In a way, it was extremely liberating not having to stress or worry about whether or not the treatment was working anymore. Instead of worrying if I was going to live or die, this terminal prognosis simplified the equation for me. After all, I have no idea why I even feared death so much before. We know absolutely nothing about death or what happens after death, only that we all will indeed die. Then there is really no legitimate reason to fear death anyways, it's simply another irrational fear of the unknown. Now I just had to focus on living out the rest of my life to the fullest and put all of my energy on having an awesome time enjoying the best of what life has to offer while leaving behind a positive footprint and legacy.

 

However, it was not until recently that I realized what a blessing terminal cancer has been for me. Of course, I had already accepted my fate and come to terms with cancer, but now I actually am grateful that all of this has happened to me. I realized that had I not been through all that I have been through in the past few months, I would have never come face to face with death and had to reflect and rethink about my priorities, the purpose of my life and of life in general. Had I not been pushed to this limit, I would not have cultivated a deep appreciation of the beautiful gift of life and of everything around me. I also would not have thought intensely about the legacy I intend to leave behind and how I wanted to impact the world in a positive way before my exit.

 

This is no tragedy, I don't even think it is sad in the slightest way to be honest. I've been so blessed in my life. I've lived in Paris, served the Peace Corps in Peru, fallen madly in love with the most amazing girl, have the most incredible family and friends anyone could ever ask for... and the list just goes on. I strongly believe everything happens for a reason. Had terminal cancer not happened to me, I would not have been able to inspire my closest friends and family to appreciate the beautiful gift of life a little more and live more appreciative and positive lives with my story. This is the purpose of my life I had been searching for all of my life -- to inspire positive personal change in as many people as possible. In fact, that is the reason I've decided to write this article and go public with my story as well, I want to share my experience of realizing how beautiful the gift of life truly is in the hopes that it can inspire others who are going through tough times to appreciate the positive in life a little more. It is also the reason why I am, after all that I've been through in the past few months, thankful for terminal cancer.”

 

 

 

 

 

"感謝癌症末期"

“Thank You, Cancer” by Shalin Shah

Chinese Translation

 

 

大多數的朋友聽到我的故事時常會有同樣的反應,像是:「那真是太讓人難過了」、「你才這樣年輕,應該有更好的未來」,或是「我很抱歉聽到你的遭遇,這對你是不公平的」。我一開始也是這麼想的。我認為癌症的出現對我的生命來說是不公平的,我才剛從學校畢業、才正要展開新的生活、找一份好的工作,準備好獨立自主來感受真實的世界。在此同時,我的朋友們都步入了人生新的一頁,在世界各地留下足跡,而我卻只能待在家中接受治療,陪著難過的父母,這一切對我來說似乎是太不公平了。

 

現在回想起來,過去的一年對我來說是永生難忘的經歷,包括:前往巴黎留學、從南加州大學以優異的成績畢業、加入和平組織並在秘魯接受訓練、被診斷出患有癌症末期、以及學習面對我患有癌症末期的事實。

 

對我來說,2月5日是每個癌症患者都會經歷過、那種一次又一次地摸著自己頭懊悔著,希望永遠不會碰到一天。在這天我被醫生告知我及家人我的癌症已經擴散至腦部在目前的醫學來說是絕症,生命只剩下最後幾個月的時光。我的腦海中閃過了無數畫面,想著要如何去接受這個事實。或許我應該要無止境地放聲哭泣,徹底感受絕望的滋味,但實際上我並非如預期地以悲傷來面對此惡耗。大約只有最初的五分鐘吧,我像是預期中失控地哭泣著,但剎那間湧入的平靜心情、卻安撫填滿了原本激動悲傷的心房。

 

透過病房的窗戶我凝望著遠方的好萊塢山景,我感覺到一種前所未有的平靜,在心態上我接受與釋懷我患有癌症末期的消息。換句話說,這對我來說像是一種解脫,我不用緊張也不用擔心往後的治療是否有效,相反地,我將面對的是生命的過程與結束,患有癌症末期使這一切簡化了。畢竟,我不在如同以往一樣對於死亡帶有未知與驚恐。

 

沒有人能預測死亡何時會發生,或是在死亡後所會面對的一切,不變的只有每個人終將面對死亡的到來。沒有一個好的理由來使人們對死亡感到恐懼,畢竟這只是另外一種對於未知的非理性。我們只要專注於當下的一切,用盡全力的來感受生命的美好,留下足以激勵後人的足跡與事蹟。

 

然而,直到最近我才明白為什麼患有癌症末期對我來說是一種祝福。前提是我已經接受了我的命運來與癌症相處,但現在我很感激這一切發生在我的身上。要是沒有過去幾個月中所經歷的一切,我將不會有與死亡面對面的機會,不會來反思生命中的優先順序,也不會明白生活的意義與目的。

 

如果沒有這些遭遇來激發我的潛能,我就不會對於身邊周遭與生命中的點滴深表感恩,我也不會有如此強烈的意圖來使這個世界更加美好、為了在我離開這個世界前留下更多正面的影響而努力。

 

這一切不是悲劇。誠實地說,我甚至不認為這件事對我來說帶有絲毫的悲傷。我的生活是如此的幸運。我曾住在巴黎、在秘魯加入和平組織、並且瘋狂地愛上了一位最特別的女孩,擁有任何人都羨慕的家人和朋友,這些都是生命中不勝枚舉的幸運。

 

我堅信一切事出有因。要是沒有癌症末期的發生,我不會有機會來影響我最親密的朋友和家人,使他們更加珍惜與感恩生活中的美好,並透過我的故事更加積極樂觀地生活。這是我的人生,也是我一直在尋找的使命與目的,能激勵他人,使得他們更加積極生活,並且影響到更多的人。分享我對於生命真諦的體認,使人帶有希望與正向的力量,激勵他人在面臨困境時更加樂觀與迎向挑戰,這些也是我在經歷了這幾個月的過程後想要說的:「感謝癌症末期」。