Ten years. 520 weeks. Seems like a huge hunk of time, doesn’t it? For me, some days dragged on forever, while others zipped right by.

This Mother’s Day, I celebrate 10 years of cancer-free living. Every moment is important to me — I really watch and listen to what is going on around me. Time management has become very important. I no longer immediately say yes to every invitation but think about what that invitation means to me — will it bring absolute joy to my day (thank you, Marie Kondo!)?

OK, not every invitation or appointment brings joy. Sometimes it’s a necessity, sometimes a learning experience, sometimes an opportunity to give back. I guess the point is to not take too much for granted.

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I often wonder what time means. Is it just a means to an end? Today, I work. And tomorrow. Time marks the passing of a career earned or a job needed. A baby is born — time is at first marked in hours, then weeks, eventually turning into years until, at last, that baby is a grown adult marking their own time in ways different from the parents that raised them.

Goals are set and timelines applied. There is pressure to complete these goals in a matter of days, weeks, months or even years. Some goals are set to improve health, others to encourage a commitment. Whatever the case, goals can be costly.

A diagnosis is given. A timeline is applied. Pressure is felt. None of this sequence is expected yet we are left holding on to time because it has become the most precious commodity we have. Time marks the periods between chemo infusions or radiation treatments.

We pray, beg, or plead for more time to heal our bodies. Sometimes we pray that a deal can be made to give us more time. Time for what? Well – to live! To watch the sun rise and set. To watch our children grow up or our parents grow older. To wish for more life, to play and learn, leave a footprint, make a positive impact on this earth.

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I’ve done it all – the praying and begging. I have some truly awful syndromes from my FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis) colorectal cancer. Yet, oddly, these syndromes have become part of my life and I embrace them because I know that I am fighting to have more time and I will win. I have learned to let them just be.

My desmoid tumors are inoperable but I just pray that they will not grow and damage my organs. And I agree to any treatment that my oncologist thinks will tame these wild beasts. Because now I know exactly what time means. I’m a wife, daughter, a sister, a mother, a friend, an aunt. I’m a giver of my time and love. And I am picky about who gets both. I know the cost of time. I cherish time with each passing of a loved one, be it a two- or four-legged love. I just keep going.

This Mother’s Day, I’m going to celebrate 10 years living cancer-free. And walk through some memories that I’ve created with so many special people. My wish is that anyone reading this essay will slow down and enjoy this day of living and loving.

All I can say, and I always tell my daughters: I have lived, I’ve done so much. And I have many years to do more.

Denise Teter lives in Kimberton, Chester County, with her family. She can be contacted at deniseteter5@gmail.com.