I’m A Survivor: Part I
There are some days I like to pretend I was never the girl with cancer. I like to remember a time when my eyes were not clouded over by the harsh realities of this life and my rose-tinted glasses were still firmly intact. To remember a time when every little medical abnormality didn’t have the ability to send me into a fit of cold sweats or throw my mind toward the worst case scenario at alarming speeds. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the camaraderie that being a cancer survivor brings with those who have also had to walk through the crazy journey of cancer, because I do. It’s just that I also sort of, well, hate the fact that I’m part of that group to begin with. Does that make sense?
This weekend I had a convicting experience. It was brought to my attention that a 20 year old young woman that I knew from childhood had recently been diagnosed with cancer. The similarities to our situations are startling: she is 20, I was 23; she is newly married in December, and I had been newly married in December when I was diagnosed in June; she is diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, and I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. As I read through her blog, my heart fell to my stomach. She was describing things that she is currently experiencing that were so very vivid to me that I could barely breathe for remembering them.
That’s when it hit me: it would be such a waste and a denial of who I am to not relate to the side of myself that is a cancer survivor. It’s not just about me, but for people like this young girl, who need to hear from those of us who have gone through the things that she is just now experiencing. When I was going through my treatments almost 6 years ago, I had two young women who reached out to me and were such sources of encouragement as I walked through cancer. They had both been young women like me when they’d received their diagnoses of similar cancers. Had they decided to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that cancer never happened, I would never have found the great strength I did from their stories, knowing that I could make it through just like they had.
Today, I am proud to be numbered among a group of people who are as precious as cancer survivors are. And yet, I am even more humbled at being able to thank God for each day He’s given me. It’s only through His grace that I am here today, and I owe it to Him and to those that will benefit from hearing my story to embrace this part of my history, while knowing that my future is not defined by my past.