The Window

Mark Mandelbaum

Mark Mandelbaum, a cancer survivor, shared with us the below piece that he wrote about his personal journey with cancer that we think deserve to be shared with ALL survivors. Mark is also part of the Team Buckeye I Ride For You program that connects survivors with Pelotonia cyclists who want to ride in their honor. If you’d be interested in learning more about the I Ride For Your program, please email TeamBuckeye@osumc.edu.

When you look outside your window, you see the world unfolding before your very eyes. Co-workers drinking coffee sharing weekend stories, a student sprinting because he is late to his lecture on financial accounting, or a new couple taking their first walk together in the park. When you take a moment from your busy day, and take a look outside your window, you see a beautiful world.

When I take a look outside the same window that you do, I see a reflection of myself. I see a young man confined to a world where he is biding his time for a grand escape. The window is keeping him safe, but once the glass is broken, he will get what he wants…freedom. The freedom to live his life without restraints or restrictions. Not having to go through the painful chemotherapy that is awaiting him every few weeks. Not having to sit out nearly half of basketball season. Not watching people and wishing he could experience the things they can. Not being able to taste the same foods that you enjoy so much. Having to constantly worry about environmental hazards when it comes to my health and isolating myself from situations where germs are present. Those are just some of the many restraints of being faced with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Cancer is a scary thing so it is best to use imagination as a form of escape. It can make or break you during emotional times. You are battling against life and death. It takes a very strong person to survive cancer, because of the pain, fighting, and limitations you must endure. Every day that you are faced with it, you have to fight harder than before. You become a warrior on the battleground of your health. Your immune system is so weak that a single illness can end your life. It is a game of patience, testing your will to keep fighting, even when you don’t have the strength to fight anymore. That is why when I complete the six months of treatment, I will have a greater appreciation for life and the freedoms that comes with it. I’m almost thirty, so experiencing cancer as a young adult, gives me a different perspective than someone who has to deal with it later on in life. It can be used as inspiration and I feel than by conquering cancer, I have the confidence to face any other challenge life throws at me.  

The window is more than just a physical object; it is a train of thought. It is the glimmer of hope, the ability to cling to something so tightly even though it is slipping out of your grasp. The window of opportunity for me is the power to believe. Believe that things will be okay even when you are going through a storm. When the window to your mind is open, the impossible can turn into the possible.

My window is different than yours. I see things that you don’t see; I experience things that you don’t experience. Cancer can change everything and make you appreciate your world more and more each day. Sometimes, it is best to slip in and out of the window to experience the world through your thoughts and dreams, and as a pedestrian in traffic on the road of life. With the power of imagination, I can see things that you can see; I can experience the things that you can experience. What do you see when you stare out the window?