I know in my heart that God has been with me every step of the way through my cancer journey. He has been there for me the nights I have stayed up crying and worrying before I was diagnosed. I could feel his presence every time I walked from one depressing doctors appointment to the other in the snow and frigid air with overwhelming feelings of fear and uncertainty. He was present in my hospital room the night that I received my first chemotherapy, reassuring me that everything was going to be OK no matter what challenges I was going to face down the road. The hand of God has orchestrated all of the divine connections that have happened before my eyes. Like I always say, God is an excellent planner. Even in times of trouble, somehow he makes things work out even if it’s in a way that we least expect. He gave me the strength to get through this with a strong and determined mind. Everyone tells me “wow you’re so brave for going through this” or “you’re soo tough, I could NEVER go through what you went through. How do you do it?” Well, my friends, I didn’t do it alone. I like to call myself a badass for all I’ve been through but when you’re faced with cancer, you kind of have to suck it up and do whatever it takes to survive or you will die. Even if that sounds so morbid, it is so very true. I was facing an illness that could have taken my life if I didn’t go to the hospital soon enough. I hate hospitals, needles, and blood - I have a major phobia of all of those things. I was facing death and my biggest fears head on. I thought to myself “of all people to have to have cancer, I have it? The girl that wants to throw up just being in an E.R?” I am a motivated and positive person, and I do know that I have a strong desire to live a beautiful life. However, without God, I couldn’t have made it through this without him by my side. I can practically cry on command if someone asked me to. How did I live in the hospital for three weeks and barely cry? How did I go to chemotherapy and not cry sitting in that chair, in a room full of other people, all much older than me, and some close to the end of their lives. It’s depressing. Not crying, that is surely not my normal self. Of course I cried plenty of times out of fear, frustration, and sadness but He gave me the strength to handle the toughest parts of cancer.
Once I found out that the soonest appointment to see a doctor at Bellevue was six months away, I immediately said “no thank you” and walked out the door with a feeling of being completely liberated. I have not stepped foot back into that awful place and never will again. I suggest you do not go there if you live in Manhattan and think you may have cancer. I say this with such honesty because my cancer grew significantly and took over my body so rapidly as I continued to get misdiagnosed by doctors who didn’t care or have time for me. If I ever have to get taken anywhere by ambulance I will scream with agony laying on a stretcher, no matter what the situation is, “pleaaaaase, noooo, don’t take me to Bellevue, I refuse!!!”
On January 30th I moved into my new apartment in the Lower East Side. I was so happy to be living in a new apartment with my own bedroom. After sleeping in living rooms and closet-space bedrooms, this was a palace to me. As much as I felt free of the cancer scare, I felt chained down because I started to feel horrible physically. From the end of January until the middle of February I could feel my body breaking down, I did not understand what was wrong with me. Apparently I didn’t have cancer but I felt so awful, the sickest I have felt in my life. I was used to exercising five days a week, I could easily run five miles. Suddenly just walking up the subway stairs took the breath out of me, I didn’t have the strength to do it. I had to walk with a heavy wool scarf around my mouth when outdoors in order to get any air into my lungs. When I walked outside into the strong winter winds, the freezing air going into my chest abruptly took my breath away. The muscles surrounding my spine felt so tight, I had to sleep on top of a pile of pillows to get any relief. I would wake up in the middle of the night hacking up my lungs and wheezing to the point that I thought I would lose my breath. One day my jaw hurt so bad that it made me nauseated and I thought I was going to pass out on the subway. I went home and fell asleep from 4 p.m only to wake up for a quick dinner and then passed out again. I am a high energy person but suddenly fatigue was consuming my liveliness. It was so discouraging to be feeling so incredibly sick day after day and not knowing what was wrong with me. I was already told I didn’t have cancer so what could it possibly be? Would I have to go through torturous testing for years to get to the bottom of this?
My mom urged me to go see a general practitioner to see what the problem was. One day while I was at work I decided to go to my insurance’s website to find a doctor in my area. I had no idea how to choose which one to go to, there were thousands of them listed and I am incredibly indecisive. I even looked some of them up online, hoping to find stumble upon some kind of sensational review that would determine my choice. I had no recommendations from anyone so eventually I decided I would just choose one by whichever last name looked interesting. I clicked through the alphabetical last names starting with “A” and nothing jumped out at me. I still called one of the “A” names but no immediate appointments were available. Then, I clicked through the list of last names starting with “B”, still nothing caught my attention. I clicked on the “C” page but the internet was giving out on me and would not load. I was stuck with a list of about 50 “B” last name doctors. I chose one of the names at the top of the list. His name was Dr. Bailyn, he had a professional website and many credentials. I called to make an appointment and luckily there was one available for a Thursday morning.
It was a freezing February day outside but the sun was shining through the windows of the waiting room at his office. It was a very relaxed environment for a doctor’s office, I felt at ease for the most part. He asked me many questions and I asked him many. I felt as if I was interviewing him - I wanted a doctor that was going to give me the time of day. I gave him all of my CT scan and biopsy papers for him to review. After doing a breathing test he came to the conclusion that it may be asthma so he prescribed me an inhaler. He then excused himself for a moment to make a phone call and I could hear him through the paper thin walls. He was speaking to another doctor and I heard my name and situation mentioned. When he walked back into the room he told me he could not give me a straight answer and that it would be of my best interest to go to the oncologist who was literally next door to his office. My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest, I had a knot in my stomach. I walked into the oncologist/hematologist’s office to see Dr. Kreditor. Within a quick five minutes of sitting in the waiting room, twiddling my thumbs, trying to hide my sweaty hands, he called me into his room. I sat down on the examination table wondering why on Earth I was spending my day in an oncology office. I don’t have cancer, why am I here? I handed him the same papers I had given to to Dr. Bailyn less than an hour ago. He thoroughly read through them for a good ten minutes as I awkwardly sat in silence and darted my eyes across the room, observing all of the cancer literature scattered across his desk. His facial expressions were not the most comforting, I could feel a sense of impending doom - he was about to break some news I did not want to hear. My mind was racing as numerous scenarios were playing through my head. He then asked me where my swollen lymph nodes were and began to feel the matted clusters of them all over my neck and collarbone. By this point it felt like I had a cluster of grapes underneath my skin. He immediately told me that my physical symptoms along with my CT scan were showing that it was definitely lymphoma I was dealing with. Tears began to stream down my face, I was in complete shock. With such dismay I told him “but I was just told I don’t have cancer! How is this possible?!” It was almost as if I was trying to convince him to tell me that maybe there was still a possibility it was something else. I suddenly started naming off all of the other diseases I had researched in the past that are similar to lymphoma. “But wait, can’t it just be Sarcoidosis? How about Tuberculosis? I think it’s an infection, it must be an infection because that’s what the other doctors told me!” I don’t know what I was thinking trying to convince a cancer doctor to tell me I do not have cancer and to not jump to conclusions so quickly. He was so unhesitating and confident in his diagnosis when he told me that I was dealing with cancer. Although he was incredibly nice and informative I almost wanted to slap him because I was so angry that I had been told I did not have cancer and then I had an actual cancer doctor telling me straight to my face that I DO have cancer. He drew a picture for me on that waxy paper that doctors offices always have on examination tables to explain to me that sometimes malignant cells can be missed from a biopsy, especially if the biopsy piece that was removed was too small, which mine was. He had to draw my blood, there was no escaping it, I had to do it all alone. I complained and told him I’m a total wimp but because he was so nice, he let me take over his room to lay down for a good thirty minutes to avoid fainting. There I was, all by myself, in an oncology office after receiving news that I did in fact have cancer. I could not wrap my mind around it, I was in my own personal nightmare. The feeling of being told you have cancer is so surreal, it is hard to even put into words what it’s like. It feels like a death sentence, you have no idea what to expect or what lies ahead. Cancer is such a scary word. It’s the thing people say when something bad happens, “You got in a car accident? You lost your job? Your boyfriend broke up with you? You’re broke? Well at least you don’t have CANCER.”
Dr. Kreditor was the ideal doctor I needed all along because he took immediate action, he knew that no time needed to be wasted any longer. He truly cared about his work and taking care of people affected by cancer. Like I said, God is a good planner. What are the chances that I randomly find Dr. Bailyn, who had an amazing oncologist directly next door to his office, and then he would play a major role in my diagnosis and treatment? I might have been sent home with an asthma inhaler and a bottle of antibiotics otherwise. He promptly scheduled me for a PET scan to find out the stage of the cancer. As for the results of my PET scan, my cancer had progressed significantly from my first CT scan in November compared to my PET scan in February. The day after my PET scan he called me early in the morning before I was even awake to begin getting ready for work. He told me I needed to go to a surgeon who he works with, that day, who was going to do my biopsy for me the following day. The biopsy would determine what type of lymphoma I had. He also told me that in addition to the biopsy, they were also going to be placing a port in my chest underneath my collarbone. A tiny part of me wanted to believe that maybe this biopsy would show that it still isn’t cancer but once he told me they were placing a port in me, I knew it was real this time. No doctor would put a chemotherapy port in someone if they were not absolutely certain they needed it. Just a few days prior I had to stomach the reality that I had cancer at 24-years-old and then I had to accept that the next step was going through chemotherapy.
I took the subway to the Upper East Side to get a consultation with the surgeon at his office. He almost laughed at the size of my original biopsy scar from Bellevue, telling me it was almost impossible to diagnose someone with a biopsy that tiny. In order to do the biopsy right away and skip through all of the insurance red tape, I had to go to the emergency room at Lenox Hill Hospital that same day and complain of chest pains to get admitted immediately. My life felt so out of control. I went to work after the appointment with my surgeon to explain I’d be leaving early because I had to take myself to the emergency room for an immediate biopsy. It all just felt so bizarre and surreal that this was my reality. My priorities that day were no longer staying caffeinated and answering work emails. Instead, it was focused on going to the hospital to have surgery the next day. What was my life coming to? Why can’t this all just be a bad dream so I can wake up the next day and go about my regular routine?
I awoke from my biopsy and port placement surgery in a foggy haze. I still couldn’t believe I was lying on a hospital bed as I looked down at the IV’s in my arm. I could barely move my body and I had a foreign object now sitting beneath my skin. I observed myself in the mirror and saw the bandages covering my neck, this was not my normal life. I thought I would be leaving the hospital the next day but the CT scan after my biopsy revealed fluid that had built up around my heart and lungs which were keeping them from properly functioning. My mom and sister immediately flew up to New York to stay with me in the hospital after learning my stay would be much longer than 24 hours. Waiting for my biopsy results really made me question my patience. Did I have Hodgkin’s? Non-Hodgkin’s? T-cell lymphoma, B-cell lymphoma? Until they knew what type I had, they could not treat me with chemotherapy because there are different treatments depending on the various types of lymphoma. The time passed by surprisingly quickly despite all of the painful procedures I had to endure, like that oh so pleasant surprise bone marrow biopsy. I had countless friends and family visit me and that always made my days more exciting because it made me feel like my normal self to be laughing and having fun. Despite being basically chained down to a hospital bed with IV’s jutting out of both of my arms, I had fun and laughed every day - as crazy as that sounds. I was surrounded by my family, friends, and an awesome medical staff. The amount of hilarious inside jokes and stories I have with my mom and sister is plentiful from our three week stay at Hotel Lenox Hill.
It was a holiday weekend, President’s Day, (one of those holidays people don’t really pay attention to) but either way, my biopsy results were taking longer than expected. I think the pathology department needed a few days off to celebrate U.S presidents? The problem was that the fluid around my lungs and heart was accumulating and if it was not treated with chemotherapy right away then they would have to do an operation to remove it. However, they still didn’t know what type of lymphoma I had so they couldn’t determine what type of chemotherapy to do. The team of doctors working on my case were debating whether to proceed with the surgeries or wait depending if the fluid was increasing or decreasing. The surgery was called a pericardial window surgery, which is a heart surgery, so it was not without risk. While waiting for the doctors to decide their plan of action, I had to sleep for a few nights in the CCU - cardiac care unit. This is the equivalent to the ICU but for heart patients so they can be closely monitored. Imagine trying to sleep at night hooked up to oxygen in your nose and an IV line in an artery in your wrist constantly monitoring your blood pressure. Even a slight movement or stressful thought would make the machines beep like crazy. Holding my breath for a few moments and the machine would indicate my oxygen was low. It was the most tense and nerve wracking feeling being held under such close observation but at the same time, it was reassuring because I had nurses and doctors watching over me like a hawk in case anything were to go awry. Twice I overheard nurses in the hallway in the middle of the night informing each other that room #34 just passed away and room #38 just had another heart attack. Lets just say I did not sleep a wink those few nights in the CCU.
An ultrasound on my heart revealed that the fluid was getting worse so the doctors had no other choice but to do both a heart and lung surgery. The procedure left me with two tubes, one hanging out of my left side near my rib cage and the other in the middle of my breast bone. The amount of pain that I was in post-surgery was unbelievable, my blood pressure was 200 over 100 and the morphine they were constantly giving me every thirty minutes felt equivalent to taking an over the counter pain reliever like Advil. Thankfully I didn’t know my blood pressure was that high until I was informed of it later, otherwise I would have probably given myself a heart attack! I felt like my chest had been crushed because attempting to take a breath in was excruciating. The only way to distract myself from the pain was talking to my mom and sister while passively watching Regis and Kelly and eating Goldfish and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
The day finally arrived for my biopsy results. I was just casually sitting in my hospital room talking to my friend Dave who brought me Pinkberry, which practically made my day after eating copious amounts of tasteless hospital food. My mom and sister had left my room for about thirty minutes to run an errand. In walks my oncologist to tell me the biopsy results - I have B-cell lymphoma. So there it was, another couple of words from my oncologist’s mouth to make reality sink in, I had cancer. As much as I thought I was going to break down right there, I didn’t. Finally getting a diagnosis brought a sense of relief to me, now I could follow through with a plan of action.
B-cell lymphoma is an aggressive lymphoma. It responds well to chemotherapy so I had to begin my treatment while still in the hospital, there was no time to waste. They wanted to start the chemotherapy the same day as my biopsy results but they needed an extra day. This was to my advantage because all I wanted was one more day to take it all in before I had to begin that horrifying, unknown process to me - chemotherapy. My ideal way of starting chemotherapy would have not been in a hospital bed with heavy tubes hanging from me, still recovering from surgery AND dealing with the shock of a cancer diagnosis. I slept maybe four hours a night in the hospital, all I wanted was sleep. My body was so stiff and sore, I wanted to stretch and pretend I was really good at yoga to relax and prepare for my first chemo.
The night of my first chemotherapy was like going on a blind date. Well, a little tougher than a blind date, but I can recognize the similarities. You don’t really know what to expect or how to prepare for it. You choose an ensemble you think would make a good impression - in my case it was a hospital gown instead of a floral dress and great shoes. You search for engaging topics of conversation to keep it from being too serious or boring - in my case it was making fun of the Adriamycin push, which looks like a strawberry jello shot going into my veins. It could be really unpleasant but towards the end you are thankful that you survived it, capable of escaping and ignoring any phone calls from there on out. Or, you can be pleasantly surprised that it was not as uncomfortable as expected, perhaps just a few awkward silences here and there. This is how I felt that night. Was I supposed to sit there silently and be serious because I had four toxic chemicals getting pushed into my veins? That was certainly not the case. I had a nurse that made me feel so at ease, I was surrounded by my family, and we turned the lights down low and played music. I remember one of my magnificent doctors, Dr. Samaha, explaining to me that getting chemotherapy was like getting IV’s of antibiotics, you do not feel anything and it is pretty boring. When he told me that, I thought he was just trying to help me not worry, but he was right on. My blind date with chemotherapy was not so bad after all, except I will never order a turkey club sandwich again in my life. Just the mere thought of the sandwich I ate during chemo brings on a wave of nausea I don’t feel like riding ever again. Chemotherapy and I went on six dates total. The five after the first one were all on Monday mornings, every three weeks - so inconvenient but we made it work for the time being. My ensembles did not get much more attractive than the hospital gown, I was in sweat pants and a head scarf every time. I kept it simple, often ordering a bagel and water. Chemotherapy and I had a break-up this past Monday though, after six of them it was time to bring it to an end. I benefitted a lot from this relationship with chemotherapy, it really saved my life, I cannot say that about any other dates I have been on.
After my first night of chemo, I thought I would soon be released from the hospital. My body was telling me otherwise because it appeared to just love being at Lenox Hill. The heart and lung tubes would not stop draining and they couldn’t release me until then. The doctors would come into my room and measure the amount of fluid like I was a science experiment in a biology class. Soon I got involved, desiring to conscious of the exact amount every day because that meant it was one step closer to me leaving the hospital. I was starting to get stir crazy there, it’s impossible to have restful sleep in a hospital. Every few hours a nurse or doctor comes in to examine, poke, and prod you and ask questions while you’re clearly not capable of doing so being so drugged up and exhausted. The most I could walk was down the hallway with my mom but the walks were never pleasant as we had to lug around the tubes hanging out of me. I could barely stand up straight. I had a corner room all to myself with plenty of windows, I’d often stand there and stare outside, watching life go on outdoors on Lexington avenue. If I stood up for more than ten minutes I felt as if I would pass out. My doctors told me the bed was my worst enemy and that I should be walking around - I clearly wanted to disagree at the time. Walking through the hallway of an oncology floor is melancholy.
Eventually it was as if standard hospital procedures were normal to me. X-rays, CT scans, anesthesia, a peripheral arterial line, a bone marrow biopsy, three IV’s in my arm at one time? No problem, just a normal day in the life at Lenox Hill. It was the exposure over and over again to these situations that eventually I became more comfortable with them. In the beginning, even just being put under for surgery made me nervous, but by the time I left the hospital, I had been put under three times. In a way, I am lucky that I was in the hospital during the coldest month in NYC, February. One morning after one of my surgeries, I woke up and looked out my window to see the snow falling from the sky. Often my mom would leave the building to run and errand only to come back and report to me how freezing cold it was outside. I couldn’t imagine being stuck in the hospital for three weeks with the sun shining and 75 degree temperatures, envisioning the rest of Manhattan lounging in Central Park.
The days passed by. Every morning I would wake up hoping they would release me but it was a slow process. Sometimes I joked to my mom that I would just empty the tubes myself to trick the doctors so that I could finally leave. I’m well-behaved so I decided against that idea and just continue forcing myself to be patient and not lose my mind. Finally, on March 13th I was freed! My mom and I walked out of the double doors of Lenox Hill three weeks after my biopsy with feelings of joy, the sun shining on our faces.
The adjustment from living in the hospital and dealing with my new reality, cancer, was difficult. Although I was happy to have some of my freedom back, it was strange to accept this new way of life that suddenly came about. I was back in my brand new apartment but I had a brand new life to get acquainted with. No longer was I waking up at 7 a.m to go to work or staying out late with my friends. I was waking up early to go to doctors appointments and chemotherapy treatments. I was staying up late because the Prednisone side-effects made me an insomniac. For a few weeks after being free from the hospital I still felt incredibly weak. I was so used to being strong and going on long runs but then I quickly learned that fatigue would set in after a day of leisurely walking around the city.
Now that I was out of the hospital I was able to really focus on my well-being and health. I delved into research about eating a plant-based diet and juicing. I focused on walking everywhere, I did not have the strength to run, but I wanted to maintain my physical endurance and spend as much time as possible outdoors. I had the opportunity to see Kris Carr speak and also meet her, which was an amazing experience. During the Spring I was able to see so many friends and family members. It was such a blessing to be able to spend time with everyone I love, exploring museums, going to flea markets, eating delicious food, and enjoying the warmer temperatures. If I was going to have to deal with cancer and chemotherapy, then I had to make it as enjoyable as possible. When else in my life will I have five months free from working? There were my bad days, the days I laid on the couch all day or the days spent in the emergency room for fevers, but that was expected.
A few days before St. Patrick’s day I remember recognizing one of the most traumatizing side-effects of chemotherapy - hair loss. My scalp was tingly and sensitive. The same feeling I used to get when I would wear my hair in a tight pony tail and then let it loose. I wanted to hold onto my hair all that I could. I remember taking a shower and gently washing my hair only to see clumps of it falling onto the wet shower floor. Once I got out of the shower I started to brush it and long strands would come out of my scalp just with the slight pull of the hair brush. I got every knot out that I could and proceeded to blow dry my hair like I usually do, upside down and then brushing my bangs with a round brush. It just did not feel the same, my hair was failing me and I was angry at it. I couldn’t tug my bangs with the brush without them slowly drifting to the ground like snowflakes. Then, I turned on my hair straightener to smooth over my hair but even dragging the flat hot iron across sections of hair would pull more strands out. At that point I gave up, it looked fine enough, and I went about my day.
The next day I woke up to a pillow covered in more hair. I hated going to bed at night because I knew it meant that in the morning I would have a pillowcase covered in the hair that was once attached to my head. For a few nights I slept with a beanie hat on to keep the hair from falling everywhere. I remember St. Patrick’s day, my mom, sister and I had a marvelous day wandering around the city enjoying one of the first warm days of the season. I wore my beanie hat because there was no use in walking around in public with half of my hair falling out, it started to become loathsome to me. My hair started clumping together and it looked dead, it was no longer my long blonde hair I was used to. I woke up the morning I was supposed to pick up my wig with feelings of horror and excitement because I knew I would have to shave my head but I also knew I had a beautiful long, blonde wig waiting for me to adorn my head with. I sat down in the chair at the hair salon where I bought my wig, ready to have my head shaved. Ready as I could ever be, that is. I could not BELIEVE that I was about to have my head shaved, never would I thought this would be something I would have to face. The buzzer started and I could feel the metal blade grazing across my scalp, shaving off the remnants of my hair. During this process I laughed and cried, it was such a release to be freed from this torturous mess of hair loss. I looked down at my sad, dead hair on the floor and said my goodbyes. Immediately he placed the wig on top of my head and uncovered the mirror to let me see for myself. It looked beautiful. It was real, healthy blonde hair and it was long, it was the hair I always wished I had. I went through days of absolutely hating my wig, especially the first day. I was so happy to have it but so angry that I had nothing underneath of it. I didn’t feel like myself, I looked in the mirror and felt like a different person. When I got home that night I knew it was time to make the big reveal to myself by facing the mirror and seeing my bald little head staring back at me. It felt...odd. I don’t know how else to describe it because I know I had no other choice but to be bald but at the same time I felt so different. I still felt like myself, it was my face in the mirror, but just not the familiar look I saw when I looked in the mirror. Taking a shower for the first time with no hair was an unusual experience, I kept touching my head thinking I had to wash my hair. Many days I cried and complained about having to worry about wearing a scarf or wig everywhere I went. I was so paranoid that everyone in public was looking at me as if they could tell I was wearing a wig. What if it fell off with a strong breeze? I’ve now gotten to the point where I’ve accepted that I am bald. I absolutely hate it but I have accepted it. I love my temporary hair and I am incredibly thankful for it, it looks so real. I can only wish that my natural hair was this stunning. I do not worry about the wig falling off in public anymore and I no longer get paranoid that strangers are looking at me because I am wearing a wig. Once you are bald from chemotherapy for a while, you get used to it. There was definitely a point where I did not even want to look in the mirror without at least a hat on. Now I walk around my apartment, bald, and I even check myself out in the mirror.
The Spring was such an appropriate time of year for this phase of my life. Spring represents new life, it is a renaissance, a revival. It brings about rejuvenation, energy, and new life. It is the turn from sorrowful, dreary winter days into sunshine coming through the clouds. I went through a winter of discontent, a time of turmoil testing my patience, strength, and faith. The rest of my chemotherapy treatments all occurred during Spring as I was given a gift of a new life both physically and spiritually. Slowly but surely my body was coming back to life, that’s not to say without plenty of awful side-effects, but it was the chemotherapy destroying my cancer. Spring was the time for my body to heal and recover while giving my mind the chance to bring about a new way of thinking and a newfound appreciation for just how sweet life really is. It truly is the light at the end of the tunnel.
The first day of Summer is just around the corner, another season full of new opportunities and adventures. I finished all of my chemotherapy treatments right before the summer solstice. On July 5th I will go for a PET scan to determine if all of the cancer I once had is dead and gone (praying big prayers here!) and I will find out the results of the scan on July 11th. I am hoping that on July 11th I can be declared a cancer survivor. That word, survivor, is major to me. It is a word that meant so little to me and felt so far away to me just months ago. I was too focused on getting through my treatments and living in the moment to realize that soon enough I would be a cancer SURVIVOR. For the next two years I will have to get CT scans to make sure the cancer has not returned. After five years of being cancer free the chances of lymphoma returning are extremely minimal. From here on out, my hair can only get longer, instead of escaping from my scalp. One day I will know what it feels like to wash my hair or throw it into a ponytail before I go for a run as opposed to placing a wig and a hat on my head. The tumors are no longer taking over my body, hindering me from living a normal life. My strength will soon return to me just like how it was before this all began.
I have never been so vulnerable in my life. Never before I have I been through such pain and fear for my own life and what the future was holding for me. There were so many events where I say that having cancer really sunk in and became a reality. I cannot say one specific occurrence that made cancer in my life so real to me, it really was just the unfolding of all of the events. From finding the lump on my collarbone to getting the port placed, to losing my hair.
I mention that I “never thought this” or “never thought that” pretty often. It was so easy to assume that something like cancer could never happen to me at this age. But honestly, I really never thought I would make it through chemotherapy when cancer first crossed my mind back in October. I never thought I would survive the torture I endured for three weeks in the hospital. I never thought I would be able to handle losing all of my hair. I never thought that someone as needle-phobic as myself would be able to give myself shots every night. I never thought June would arrive, but it did. Sometimes it went by slowly, other times it went by so fast it feels like a blur. But no matter what, I got through all of this. It seems so difficult to deal with cancer when first being diagnosed, it is difficult and a whirlwind of emotions are involved, but with perseverance it can be done.
I am happy to share both the sorrow and joy which I have experienced through my writing. May it touch someone else, maybe someone that is dealing with cancer themselves or someone that just needs something entertaining to read while they’re sitting at their desk at work.
Life is not meant to be wasted on worry or petty things. God placed us on this earth to enjoy our family and friends, regardless of what life throws at us. I have learned to value life at a young age and for that, I am forever grateful. I am incredibly thankful to every single person in my life that has been there for me throughout all of this. From my family and friends, to the doctors and nurses, I could not have done it alone.
The encouraging words God spoke to me on my first night of chemo are so true and genuine. I held them in my heart this whole time, often having to remind myself of what he told me that night on the days I cried and got discouraged. I am coming out on the other side from this dark place into a new life with a healthier body and mind. It was not an easy journey, there are still challenges that I will face because once you have cancer it’s a part of your life forever, but I am reaching upon a new chapter of my life that is filled with clarity and joy. I’ve fallen in love with life all over again, we even decided to renew our vows.