When I was diagnosed on December 20, 2010, I remember clearly how fear paralyzed my body, but freed my mind. As I sat at the dinner table with my parents and my ex-boyfriend Marc, we were speechless -but we were communicating. After what felt like an hour of silence, I turned to them and said,
"I know that I am going to beat this. I know that I am going to beat this because I love my life too much. I know that I am going to beat this because there is so much change that I need to make. I know that I am going to beat this because there is so much that I want to do and see and so much that I want to give."
I knew how badly I wanted to beat this disease, but I also knew that I was going to have to use all of my past experiences, all of my past disappointments and triumphs, in order to do so. I was going to be tested in a way that would require me to dig deep, and draw upon every last strength.
I knew that I was going to survive this disease with the same certainty that I knew I was going to be diagnosed with Cancer.
Starting at the age of 6 or 7 I remember being in my childhood bathroom and staring at myself in the mirror wondering what I would look like bald. I was even able to visualize myself in a hospital bed, fighting the disease. I have no idea why this image was so pronounced for me - but it was. At that point in my life I hadn't been touched by Cancer, and so I have no real explanation for you as to why I knew this to be true.
While I knew that I was going to get Cancer, I did not think it would be at 29.
A friend of mine from college lost his mother to Cancer a few years ago and he wrote to me early on in my fight. While its always hard to know exactly what to say, his words really resonated with me. He told that while his mom was fighting, his family was overcome with anger, uncertainty, and fear- causing them to lose sight of hope. His one wish for me was to hold on to hope.
And so, I have held on to hope with the tenacity in which I want to live.
Here we are in round five- and this time it feels different. While I am actively fighting, I am also willingly sacrificing my body. I assure you this is not being done out of defeat, but rather has more to do with acceptance. By accepting what will happen during recovery, my sacrifice feels like an intentional act of victory. I am welcoming the pain, I am embracing the difficult days ahead, and I am preparing for the emotionally draining moments in isolation- because I am hopeful.
My body may continue to be compromised and tested in the days to come, but my heart, mind, and spirit will continue to be strengthened and transformed- because I am hopeful.
While I am of course fearful about the return of disease, I feel as if I was given a second chance to really live. And so that is what I intend to do. I intend to live loudly, to live brightly, and to experience today by savoring this moment.