22 Nov, 16

A note to current cancer fighters from a recent survivor


If you’re reading this you’re probably in the hospital receiving your first chemo, or you were just diagnosed, and preparing yourself for what’s about to come. Everything probably happened so quickly that you can’t even wrap your head around things. That’s how it usually happens, all of the sudden. Don’t worry, you will get through it.

You’re going to be hit with the fertility card, and told how many side effects that you could possibly have from the chemo. Neuropathy, lung disease, heart disease, a secondary cancer, Infertility, I could go on and on. You probably don’t have time to do anything fertility wise, because if you’re in the hospital like I was, things just happen too quickly. Don’t freak out, this is the price you have to pay for staying alive. And many, many, many people are still able to get pregnant after chemo. Don’t listen to the odds. It’s all up to the big man upstairs. Remember, if you’re dead you can’t get pregnant anyways, and your cancer is obviously trying to kill you. You’re probably going to get surgery and a port placed in. Your port will be your best friend through chemo. I know at the moment it seems horrible, but don’t worry, you will get through it.

You’re going to be sad, you’re going to be angry. You’re going to sit staring at the wall and ask yourself what you ever did to deserve this. The answer to that question is nothing. Doctors can’t ever explain why a specific person gets cancer. You did nothing to cause this. Consider it to be the biggest misfortune, but yet the biggest blessing in disguise. I believe that god let this happen to you because you are strong and you can handle it. You’re going to cry. You’re going to cry a lot. Sometimes you’ll cry all day, and sometimes you will lay in bed crying all night. The crying will eventually stop. Don’t worry, you will get through it.

Depending on which regimen you receive, you’re going to be sick after chemo. Very freaking sick. Nothing will ever prepare you for how sick you’re going to be. You’re going to be nauseous. The first night you might have a trash can next to your couch. You’re going to be in pain. You’re not going to be able to sleep. You’re going to have so many side effects from the chemo, that I can’t even describe. You will eventually meet amazing nurses at chemo, that find you medications that will help you deal with the nausea and the pain, and it will get easier. You hair is going to come out, and it’s going to come out in clumps. It’s going to make you sick to your stomach. You will look in the mirror and cry. This will be one of the hardest parts, but it will grow back. Never forget that when you think the chemotherapy is killing you, it’s also what is keeping you alive. Don’t worry, you will get through it.

Life will go on for the rest of the world. This will be one of the hardest things to accept, while your friends are at work, and you’re getting injected with a million different poisons, you will feel like your world is remaining stagnant..but you don’t realize that you’re fighting the biggest fight of your entire life. Don’t worry, you will get through it.

You’ll have good days and bad days. You’ll have days where your white blood cell count is so low, that you have to inject yourself with Neupogen or Nuelasta and can’t be around other people. You will have days where your hemoglobin is so low, that you have to receive blood. Read as much as you can, sleep as much as you can, drink as much water as you can, and watch as much Netflix as you can. Spend as much time with family and friends as you can. Don’t worry, you will get through it.

You will learn who your true friends are. People will expose their true colors. You might lose some friends, but you will definitely gain many more in their absence. It’s a blessing in disguise, because your true friends will step up. Keep these people by your side and never let them go. You’ll be lucky enough to ditch the ones who don’t support you. It’s hard and it hurts when people you thought would be there, aren’t there at all. You’ll eventually be thankful for these realizations. And once again, don’t worry, you’ll get through it.

Your days will be consumed with doctors visits, scans, chemotherapy, and possible radiation. You will learn to enjoy the little things in life. You’ll learn to care more and love more deeply. You’ll learn what’s important in life, and you’ll also learn to let things go more easily. You’ll develop an unexplainable bond to anyone else who has or has had cancer. You’ll become attached to your doctors and become friends with your nurses. They will hold a special place in your heart that I can’t even begin to describe to you. You’ll meet other cancer fighters and survivors through social media, that you eventually become friends with. They get you. They understand you. They will help you get through it.

You’ll become a completely different person. All of those days and nights where you didn’t think you would survive, you survived. Months will pass, and it will go by faster than you know. Although I don’t wish cancer on anyone, I want to say congratulations to you. You’re in for the biggest fight of your life. You will ultimately change for the better, and be the strongest person ever. It will go by quicker than you know, and life will eventually be a breeze after all of the bullshit that you will go through. You will learn to not only live with meaning, but to actually live. You will live in the present, which many people can’t say that they are actually able to do. For those who have to fight for it, life becomes more precious and meaningful, and you’ll learn to never waste it on anything or anyone. Months will pass by, and you’ll realize that every restless night was worth the fight. You’re a survivor. You made it through something that you thought would kill you. How many people can say that? You got through it. If you can do cancer, you can do anything. So, hang in there, I’m rooting for you. And always remember on those nights where you just don’t know if you can ever make it through, hope is stronger than fear.

Xo,

Your friend who was once in the same shoes as you. I get you.

Find my book “Talk Cancer To Me” available at amazon here:

  1. Lindsay says:

    This is amazing. Thank you. So very well written, heartfelt, encouraging and plain lovely. Tomorrow is my last and 12th round of ABVD for Stage III Hodgkin’s! I will share this with the nurses to share with others in the future.

  2. Kylie says:

    Did it again Jess! ❤️️ Thanks for alway inspiring those of us who are fighting!

  3. Lorraine says:

    This is perfectly amazing! I was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer on july 13th 2016. I have felt every single one of these feelings. Your posts have really helped me get through it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. Melisande L Balleste says:

    Love the post, and once again very true on the friendship, and life being stagnant. I still feel that way getting my professional life back on track, and balancing doctor appointments especially the monthly injections which I have to go for another year to suppress the estrogen has been difficult, but I am trying. Socially that’s also difficult due to no income (my parents are helping me God bless them but it’s a lot to ask from two retire people). Constantly worrying because I have no health insurance . Sorry for ranting but thank you for this blog because I need this to uplift my spirits.

  5. Lorena Gomez says:

    My son Gino was diagnosed with stage 4 mediastinal B CELL Non Hotckins on April 7, 2016. We have been at Memorial Sloane in NY. We live in Miami. He is 24. Turning 25 Jan 7. After 4 rounds of R- Chop, 3 rounds of RIce his tumors were eradicated but a month later, the scans revealed a new tumor in his chest. So he now is going to do the immunology clinical trials at Sloane. Then stem cell transplant to increase his chances to beat this. We both follow you, bought your book. We would want to meet you. Get to know other lymphoma young men and women living in Miami. Gino wamts to give back also to the community but he is fighting so hard now. Besides being in business he is a DJ/ Producer as A & G. With his brother Andy. How can I get you all to meet? He has been so strong but needs support and je follows only you in terms of lymphoma fighters/ survivors. He is in Miami until Dec 2. Wr go back to NY for his first immunological infusion. Long road ahead. Your posts, books have bedn an inspiration to us.

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