I Survived Cancer: What Now?

Eight months ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I went through surgery, radiation, and finally got the "all clear" status in January. And I thought that would be the end of it. I assumed that my life would go back to how it was before. Everything was going to be normal now that the cancer had been expelled from my body.

That is something they don't prepare you for: the realization that your life is never going back to how it was before cancer. Sure, it might resemble your previous life, but cancer alters you in a way that is deep and unexplainable.

While I adopted a YOLO attitude, I have also experienced debilitating fear. The fear that the cancer might come back, stronger, more determined to kill me. The fear that the radiation treatment could cause a secondary cancer. The fear that I might not have the long, happy life that I once imagined. The fear that comes with scans and blood tests and doctor appointments. The fear that can send me into a spiraling depression with one swollen lymph node.

Most days I can brush it under the rug. I can put my fears aside and only feel the absolute gratitude of being alive. But there are other days, days like today, when the fear and hopelessness sinks in. Days when I have flashbacks of passing out on a bed pan, waking up in excruciating pain, and realize that this could all happen to me again. While there is "no evidence" of disease, it is still inside me. Still in my body just waiting to sneak back when I least expect it. 

And I find myself unable to move on with my life. Unable to fully grasp what all of this means. Unable to understand how cancer has changed me: physically, emotionally, mentally. The past eight months have been an absolute roller coaster ride, to say the least. And I used to look at it like there would eventually be an ending...

But I am slowly learning, no matter how hard I fight it, cancer has become a part of me. It is essential to who I am, who I want to be. I need to stop fighting it; and I need to start embracing it.

Because you only live once.

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