Some people may think they are strong, and then the word 'Cancer' is thrown into the equation. A million questions run through your mind with no answer of where to start. What will you do? How will you overcome? How will you find the strength to get through this next battle?
There have been many instances in my life where I've had to be strong, but never as strong as the time the word 'Cancer' was used to diagnose me. Somehow in my head, I couldn't consider the disease ever being aligned with my fate - especially not while I was in my twenties. After my diagnosis, I wasn't sure what to do next, who to talk to, who to tell, or even when I would need to start fighting. Truth be told, my fight started the moment I heard the words "You have cancer". I knew then that I needed to tap into finding inner strength more than I had ever before.
But I had questions, like where does strength come from? How do we harness it? Why is there (seemingly) never enough of it present so that we can feel at ease on our Cancer journey? Before wracking my brain to find ways to be strong, there were a few things I had to remind myself:
1. Never sell yourself short.
Undermining yourself can be one of the most harmful ways to handle emotional or physical pain. By recognizing your potential, you realize your true worth, and that can help make yourself feel stronger.
2. Allow yourself to process things in your own way.
Cancer does not look the same on everyone and it surely doesn't feel the same to everyone. It may be a disease that affects an overwhelming amount of the population, but that doesn't mean you should feel pressured to react or respond the same way another person does. You know yourself better than anyone else does-so let that determine how long or how lightly you process your Cancer journey.
3. Realize that you cannot do this alone.
Part of the reason I was able to find that strength within myself came from the realization that I couldn't fight this on my own. Yes it was happening to my body, and yes I did not ask for it, but I knew I needed my team of soldiers behind me if I was going to battle this monster and come out on top. Everything changed for me. I now had a new title and a new life, whether I wanted it or not. This wasn't about being sad that I was diagnosed, it was about realizing I was strong enough to conquer and prevail. Cancer was something brand new to me; I had no idea what the next day was going to hold. I only knew I had to keep my mind, body, soul, and heart strong enough to take it day by day.
4. Be honest with yourself.
It is equally as important to remind oneself that it's okay to not be strong some days. Tears, pain, and weakness will all inevitably surface. I'm only human after all, right? Just because my mom calls me her superhero doesn't mean I have to put on a brave face every single day. I had to be honest with myself and give myself a break. I can't go a day without praying and thanking God for the life I have now. Without him, I would not be able to take on this battle. My strength and my courage in part come from him through these stressful days.
I know that it is hard to stay strong with cancer. Taking medicine every day and going through treatment and doctors every week isn't exactly how a young adult like myself should be living their life, but you know what? I have a life and that is just fine with me! I have found that cancer gives me a greater appreciation for life and the ones that are in it. We cannot take anything or anyone for granted, especially ourselves. I am my own superhero, because of both my strength and weakness. Cancer may be my new normal, but it's important to remind myself that cancer does not define who I am or how others view me. There are only two options when it comes to cancer: to conquer or to survive. It may not be easy, but it's worth the fight and I will always come out stronger no matter what!