After being diagnosed with cancer the first thought that runs through your mind is how can this be real? This can’t be real. Of course any traumatic news is dealt with through the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance. Having family that had been through various types of cancer and treatments you’d would expect that I would have been prepared. But there’s nothing more devastating than hearing the words “cancer,” “treatment options,” & “worst case scenario” being thrown around. It’s been two years since my initial diagnosis, two years since I first had surgery. After various types of homeopathic treatments, I stand today as someone who has conquered my biggest fears: Cancer. But as they took out the life-threatening lump, they took my self-confidence as well. I look at that part of my body, at the scar it has left, and think to myself who could love this?
I’ve let cancer define who I am, and in some sense I still allow it to define who I am. It has become a part of me that I can’t escape no matter how hard I try. Fighting it wore me out, but conquering it made me feel more broken than I had before. While fighting it, I had missed out on living the life a normal girl my age would. I missed out on firsts, on new relationships, and the ability to live what I believed was a normal life. Cancer made me afraid of living life. More afraid of judgment than ever before. I had always been shy and reserved, but I began closing myself off more and more. My friends tried to be as supportive as they could but you only do so much for a friend who refuses to open up and let them in. I felt like they would never be able to relate or understand. They’d never be able to feel the emotions I was feeling or comprehend how broken and scared I felt. While I spent hours in doctor offices and hospitals they were off partying, getting to know new people, flirting with boys, and being happy. I envied them, but I understood that I just wasn’t meant for that kind of life. Sometimes I thought this was my fate but I soon realized how wrong I was.
Volunteering and music gave me a new sense of purpose, and new sense of happiness. As I worked with children who were diagnosed with cancer as well, and immersed myself in music I realized that cancer didn’t mean I had to live in fear of the unknown everyday, rather it just gave me a different lens to live my life through. I could still be happy and find happiness. Working with children who have been affected by cancer showed me another side of cancer: It brings people together. Through the endless crafts we’ve done, I’ve seen countless children, and the smiles that I find on their faces shows me that just because you have cancer, doesn’t mean life has stopped. Instead it has begun again. We shouldn’t be afraid of scars; they show how strong one is, fighting not only for today, but for tomorrow as well. From this experience, I’ve gained a new insight on cancer. It can wear you down and push you to give up, but it can never cripple love, hope, or courage. I realized, that through developing and enhancing my skills to help others, I found myself being touched by them, inspiring me to spread my love and awareness for humanitarian efforts. Simply, I found my passion through my diagnosis.
To everyone out there, young and old, who has been diagnosed, don’t let cancer define who you are. Don’t for one second believe that you can’t fight it. That it is bigger than you. You will always have control over your happiness. Today I begin a new chapter. One hopefully filled with more laughs, more smiles, and more good days. I’m scared, because I haven’t learned to love or believe in myself. I keep questioning everything, thinking that it is too good to be true. But after everything I’ve been through, I guess it is understandable. But I know that I need to stop fearing life. What is meant to happen will happen, and if it’s fate, then I can’t control it, no matter how much I want to. I know that I need to stop fearing life, because as long as I fear it, I will never be able to live it.
So I say yes to this new beginning, because I want to embrace and ride it fully. I owe that much to myself to find what I want and who I am. Because as Dr. Seuss said those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter. My advice to myself this year, Take it all, one day at a time and enjoy the journey. When things become suffocating and you feel yourself short of breath, Take a deep breath, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again. Because you are more beautiful than you think, smarter than you know, and more wonderful than you could imagine. Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle. But most importantly love yourself, you are unique, and no one can compare to you. Stop comparing yourself to others, because then you’ll lose the opportunity to be just simply you, to create a you that you are proud of. Being different is one of the most beautiful things on Earth. Every day may not be good, but there is good in every day.
I challenge you to always believe that something wonderful is about to happen. Leave your past where it’s supposed to be… In the PAST! It’s holding you back, and it’s time you live life the way it’s supposed to be. Put all your doubts to rest, because honey, it’s about time you did.