One Year Cancer Free: Navigating Through the Tension of Celebration and Sorrow

For the girl who wore mouse ears to every chemotherapy treatment, getting on the plane to head to Walt Disney World to celebrate my one-year cancer free anniversary was like a dream come true.

Wes and Nicole standing in front of Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom wearing their Christmas attire.

When we were about to enter Magic Kingdom, we were so excited to take photos with my “celebrating one-year cancer free” button that we had custom made. We had waited in a line for about 30 minutes and had just reached the photographer at the front. The celebration was officially on!

Before we stepped in front of the photographer to have our picture taken, a family dressed in all blue walked up to him and whispered something in his ear. He nodded somberly and then proceeded to walk over to Wes and me. He asked so tenderly, “Would you mind if I took photos for this family first?” We looked over at the 3-generations of family members standing before us and saw these words written on their shirts:

“Make a Wish”

“Of course we don’t mind,” we replied with tears filling our eyes. When the photographer nodded at the family, one of the young boys smiled and walked over to us. He handed us a card that said “thank you.” When we flipped the card over, it was a photo of him and his story. It explained that he was 6-years old and had neuroblastoma cancer. The images showed his port and bald head. We both bursted into tears.

As it was our turn to then take a photo, I put my sunglasses on and smiled for the camera. It wasn’t my “normal” smile though. It was a smile filled with emotions. Filled with a year and a half of life that had been forever changed.

Nicole holding up her one year cancer free button with the Magic Kingdom entrance in the background.

The tension of joy and sadness. The stark contrast of celebrating life being lived and grieving life soon to be gone. The marriage of celebration and sorrow. Something that I will carry for me for those affected by cancer for the rest of my days. But I also learned in the days ahead that this “tension” doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

As we shared our story openly with everyone we met, these types of encounters and more occurred throughout the entirety of our vacation. One chef heard my story from another cast member and came out from the back to our table to share that he had two friends diagnosed within the last two weeks and wanted to meet me and give me a hug. After overhearing our conversations, we made new friends with people sitting at tables next to us as they shared how cancer has impacted their lives. And words weren’t needed as I could feel the short breaths through long hugs from characters like Minnie Mouse and Woody. Even though they were in full costume, we knew that they had been affected by cancer in a big way. We experienced that heavy hearts feel lighter when we can empathize with and shower compassion on one another. The tension was met with love, understanding, and healing through openness and vulnerability.

Nicole and Wes taking a fun photo with Goofy dressed up as Santa. Nicole is laughing as Goofy is holding his ears up!

This trip was more than a celebration of being cancer free. It was about connecting with others, hugging a parent who was days away from losing her child, offering prayers, and lending a compassionate and listening ear. Taking the “why do I get to be cancer free when so many aren’t” and shifting that to a “what can I do to love others now that I am cancer free” helped me discover new ways to love, support, and encourage others in many capacities.

Even the “happiest place on earth” is filled with visitors and cast members walking out stories that run deep. Being one year cancer free has been all about celebrating life and praising God through the many ups and down while grieving with and encouraging others amidst their struggles. This last year has been an awakening within my soul and a redirection with purpose for the future.

Wes kissing Nicole on the cheek in front of a Christmas tree at the Grand Floridian as they are dressed in formal attire.

My life has changed forever. Every single day I feel like God reveals to me even more that we were created to love and serve and encourage others. It’s no wonder that the Greatest Commandment is loving God and loving others {Matthew 22:36-40}.

Life is hard. We need each other. So many have given and still give unexplainable love to me. So, my joy today is that I am able to do the same for those around me amidst the tension of celebration and sorrow.

It took “faith, trust, and pixie dust” for me to find a way to summarize this last year and I can’t wait to see what God does in 2019!

Wes and Nicole standing in front of Cinderella's Castle at Magic Kingdom as it is "frozen" with the holiday lights. Nicole's shirt says "faith, trust, and pixie dust" on it.

Thank you to everyone who has shared their journeys with me, to each person who has prayed before my scans, for the ones who have dedicated their lives to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves, and for our loyal, faithful, and loving God in heaven who walks each and every moment of this life with us.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

God bless you!

Sparkle on,
Nicole Body

Can you relate to the tension I face each day? How has your journey looked like in this area? As always, if you ever need prayer or encouragement, please reach out! And I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

I hope you enjoy some more photos from our trip below!

Wes kneeling down presenting Cinderella's glass slipper to her with a castle and tree backdrop.

Wes presenting me with the ACTUAL glass slipper that was used in the live-action Cinderella movie starring Lily James! I sure hope it fits!

Wes and Nicole standing in front of the "Minnie Van" red and white polka dot Lyft vehicle at Disney World

Disney World’s version of the “Minnie Van” that can be booked through the Lyft app at Walt Disney World! I wasn’t excited at all… LOL!

I jumped on Wes as we stand in front of the Hollywood Tower of Terror at Hollywood Studios at Disney World.

Lucky for Wes, I am very calm, cool, and collected. Tower of Terror doesn’t scare me… Does it?

The lifesize gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian while Wes and I are dressed up in our Christmas Green!

Wes and I standing in front of a REAL gingerbread house at our hotel, The Grand Floridian! Over 1,000 pounds of honey and 700 pounds of chocolate were needed to create this! And on top of that, it was fully operational! Treats were being served on the other side!

Wes and I on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride at Disney World in Magic Kingdom!

Enjoying this Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs themed ride! My face and hair says it all!

Meeting Kylo Ren at Hollywood Studios and Wes and I laughing uncontrollably

Meeting Kylo Ren from the new Star Wars movies at Hollywood Studios! We couldn’t stop laughing and he kept telling us to “compose ourselves.”

Wes wearing a shirt in front of Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom that says "My favorite Disney Princess is my wife."

Not sure who bought Wes this shirt… 🙂

For more on my journey through cancer and survivorship (and as of recently, photos from our Walt Disney World One-Year Cancer Free Celebration) follow my Facebook Page or my Instagram!

You can also head to my Resources Page, read My Story, or Contact Me through my website! Previous blog posts are available on the Home Page!

2 comments

  1. Since I met you and Wes in the plane, a piece of my heart has been opened. I’m so grateful for it! I’ve always been aware that we never know someone’s unspoken journey so be a good human on purpose. But now, I remind myself every day that people are in need of love and grace.

    I met you guys for a moment but Inteuly love you. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing your story and love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arnell, it is amazing what can happen in unexpected places! Meeting you on the airplane was a true blessing! You have a gigantic heart and an infectious smile! Such a beautiful soul!! Thank you for opening up your heart and story to us! We are so thankful for you!! Merry Merry Christmas!!!!

      Like

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