Life happens unexpectedly. One day, you could wake up and your whole world changes. For some of us, this is not unfamiliar territory. We all go through tough times, but it is the attitude in how we deal with it that matters most and helps us to survive.
I was 28-years old when I was diagnosed with Cancer. The months leading up to it were difficult as I couldn’t understand why I constantly felt fatigued, had itchy skin, woke up each morning drenched from night sweats and had no appetite at all. I easily mistook these symptoms as being stress-related and continued to power through. I was also losing a lot of weight, very quickly, but I chalked it up to my efforts in working out and eating a healthier diet. It wasn’t until I got sick with a cough, and a small lump appeared on the side of my neck, that I was concerned. I called my doctor to make an appointment but then cancelled it immediately. I was scared. Finally, I got the courage to call back to make the appointment and I’m so glad I did.
Over the next month I would undergo a CT Scan, needle neck biopsy, bone marrow biopsy and a PET Scan. All tests concluded that I had Stage II Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and would need to complete chemotherapy and radiation treatments in hopes of being cured. Over the course of 5-months I completed twelve rounds of chemo, with no radiation, and today I am in remission, cancer-free.
The initial shock of being told “You have Lymphoma” was intense. I had no idea what Lymphoma was, as I don’t ever recall hearing about it, and had to ask my doctor to explain. Being told you have Cancer, at any age, is tragic. A million questions race through your mind, you start to wonder “Am I going to die?”, and suddenly, you feel out of control. It’s true. There isn’t much you can control when it comes to Cancer, but we have the power to control in how we deal with it.
My motto throughout treatment was “Always Be Fabulous”. To me, being fabulous is a state of mind and staying positive is the key. Instead of dwelling on the things I couldn’t change, like losing all my hair, I focused my energy into finding ways to staying positive. In this case, I purchased some fun-colored wigs and experimented with my personal style to help lift my mood. I would also find ways to look forward to my bi-weekly chemo treatments by creating new traditions. My guests would create the sign I would take a photo with and after each treatment I would order salty foods, I craved off Uber Eats, and later that evening, soak myself in an Epson salt bath with my cancer fighting music playlist loud on blast.
Having a positive outlook can change how you feel completely. Of course, there are bad days, but building up negative energy will end up making you feel worse. Just keep thinking to yourself “I can survive this”, and do whatever it is you need to help stay positive. The way I view it, is that being diagnosed with Cancer was not my first or last challenge in life to overcome. As life can be unpredictable, it’s best I get some practice in how to handle when a new challenge comes my way. I beat Cancer. I didn’t let it beat me.