To talk about things lightly, 6 months ago, I entered Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center as a materialistic, superficial brat. I thought I was the queen of the world. Living in Miami, the city ended up consuming me, and I thought that owning expensive watches and designer bags was what defined me. I thought that what I looked like on the outside truly defined me. I thought which VIP list I would be on that night, or who’s yacht I was going on, defined me. My nights out consisted of hanging out with people who didn’t have their priorities straight, and only cared about partying and materialistic things.
I was forced to take a leave of absence from my career, and no longer had the luxury of dropping thousands of dollars on meaningless items, like it was nothing. Like it was truly nothing. Although I’m proud of the work that I have accomplished in my career at such a young age, I kick myself every time I look into my closet and pull out an expensive hand bag that I don’t even wear! Having come out of an unhealthy relationship with someone that I had learned a lot of these opportunistic, bad behaviors from, I truly didn’t know my head from my ass. I didn’t know where to start at the beginning of my diagnosis or how I would make it through these last 6 months.
Within these 6 months, my friends and family have stepped up to the plate like no other. I had the best support system in the entire world. I, to this day, HAVE the best support system in the entire world. I had the privilege of meeting so many healthcare professionals, whether they were residents, doctors, nurses, or even the people that took my blood every Tuesday morning. I learned something from every single one of these people. These people changed my life in ways that I can’t even begin to explain. They turned me into a fighter, into an inspirer, and shaped me into the person that is typing this to you right now, whether they are aware of this or not. They helped me find the “real me”, and turned me into a better person. A person who realizes what’s important in life, who cares more deeply about others, who values friendships, who values life in general, and realizes what a privilege it is to be alive.
Throughout these 6 months, I was put through 6 cycles of intense chemotherapy that often left me sick to my stomach and in tears. I was put through multiple surgeries, as well as a grueling 20 sessions of radiotherapy, to all of the areas that I originally had cancer in. So in essence, basically every organ in my body. Some days I would wake up crying and go to sleep crying, not knowing what tomorrow would bring, and not knowing if I could handle any more torture to my poor body. But, 6 months later..I made it. My 6 month mark was yesterday, where I had my last Bleomycin push injection. I made the mistake of thinking that this is all over and I didn’t have to follow protocol. I ended up shaking in bed all night, crying, while taking my temperature every 30 minutes, preparing myself for having to go to the hospital. Luckily, by the grace of God after drinking as much water as I could, my temp went down and I was no longer feverish. I was so scared that I had become septic, because my counts were so low. It’s never truly over. This is something I will have to live with for the rest of my life, regardless of whether my scan is clear or not.
When I first walked into Sylvester 6 months ago, my doctor who ended up saving my life, had no problem telling me that I had a horrible attitude. He didn’t have to say much though, because as a doctor, he knew my life was about to do a 180, in so many different ways.
Within these last 6 months, I met cancer fighters and survivors all across the world, who helped me fight, and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. I met them all over social media, and I’m planning on meeting my cancer bestie, Meg, right after I’m in remission..which will hopefully be now, or soon! These cancer fighters and survivors gave me hope for a better tomorrow. They’ve been through the exact same thing, so in essence, they know what it’s like, and know that there is always hope for a better tomorrow. They helped me fight. They sympathized with me when I had horrible side effects and was losing my hair. They sympathized with the constant scanxiety. My cancer army. I would have never met these people if I didn’t have cancer. I wouldn’t have been blessed enough to meet these people.
So, as much as cancer sucks, I’m not downplaying this, it will turn you into a completely different person, for the better. I just finished six months of everything. I have to wait 3 weeks, to see if I am in the clear and in remission. Either way, my life has changed for the better. So, whether you’re just starting out with chemo, have just been diagnosed, or are heading to the finish line, this battle WILL make you a better person. And you WILL make it through this. There will undoubtedly be days where you don’t think that you will make it through, but you have to put one foot in front of the other and keep on going. Count your blessings. Live in the moment, and know that although you might not see it now, everything truly does happen for a reason.
And if you’re reading this and don’t have cancer, just know that life is unbelievably short and it’s meant to be lived to the fullest. Focus your time and energy on being a good person, being a good friend, helping others, helping yourself. Surround yourself with people who make you a better person, and don’t feel bad about cutting those that don’t, out of your life. Friendships and relationships should help you rise, not tear you down. Don’t take part in drama, and don’t hold unnecessary grudges. Anger is very rarely something that I would consider useful. The materialistic world does not mean a damn thing at the end of the day. If you’re unhappy with something in your life, whether it be your job, your relationship, yourself, your friends, your attitude..change it! Coming from someone who was extremely sick at one point this year, and was on the verge of life or death, don’t wait until it’s too late to actually live. Live while you can, while you’re healthy, while you’re young. Live authentically, don’t try to be someone that you’re not, especially on social media. Drop the BS. Do all of the things that you’ve always wanted to do. Now is the time. Tomorrow is never promised.
Keep fighting, take it day by day, week by week, and know that this journey will soon be a memory. At the beginning of my diagnosis, my manager told me that this is something you have to take day by day. And I can’t emphasize this enough. This will soon be a memory that will bring you to tears thinking of what an amazing person you have turned into, despite going through hell and back, and how strong you have truly become. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger! Xoxo
Your hopefully soon to be in remission Lymphoma Barbie. (Stole this from you, Dalissa!)
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