September 3rd, 2015
| Survivor: Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma
After being diagnosed with cancer, some people have a hard time finding the strength to participate in celebrations: birthdays, weddings, holidays, etc. We know how quickly a celebration can be taken away.
I remember celebrating a much needed vacation during summer 2014. I was in California enjoying the sun with my best friend when our celebrations were so quickly interrupted by a phone call that would change everything about my life. This is the exact moment that I found out I had been diagnosed with cancer. Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma to be exact- or Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, when people ask me. That phone call stands in my mind, clear as day. And I suppose it always will. Shock, fear, and dismay surrounded me. I had no clue what my next step was and could not fathom where my life was going to go. Six months of my life were about to be dedicated to this disease. Six rounds of an aggressive form of chemotherapy. Countless days full of tests, scans, and appointments. Hundreds of needle pricks and thousands of strands of hair lost.
This is not something we chose to be a part of but we can choose how it is a part of us. On that day, I had a choice. I chose to rise above, laugh and to celebrate. I chose to laugh at how awkward it can be to tell others for the first time, to laugh at how badly I shaved my head when I thought it was the best shave in the world, to laugh at the jokes I made to strangers about my bald head and no eyebrows. I could have easily run and hid away for the duration of my treatment, but where would that have gotten me? Nowhere near a celebration.
So instead, I still celebrate...everything. I celebrate the day the disease infiltrated my body, and I invite my friends to do so with me. I celebrate every test and scan I have and will go through; the cleansing before the oh-so-wonderful colonoscopies and the iodine solution before a CAT scan. I celebrate the day I started to lose my hair-- the hair that I never thought I had an attachment to until I had nothing left to run my hands through.
The days I completed chemotherapy were always days that I sent a little prayer up, and I'm so thankful that I'm still around to remember and celebrate those days. I celebrate every drug that was pumped into my veins and every bottle of pills I carried. I celebrate every labored breath and exhausted feeling that may never leave my body. I celebrate every tear shed and every pain I felt. I celebrate for every scar I now bear, both mentally and physically. I celebrate for all of my fellow and future cancer club members. Most of all, I celebrate for those that have retired from the club no one wants to be a part of.
Everyone is different. Some celebrate loudly and others do so quietly. There's no right or wrong way. For me, my celebrations taught me about who I am and how strong I can truly be. It made my relationship with the man of my dreams even stronger and deeper. It taught me who my true friends are. It taught me all the things I was missing in life, all the things I took advantage of. It taught me everything else that I could and should be celebrating and it showed me how much my family loves me and how far they would go for me.
Cancer could have taken everything from me, but I celebrated it, laughed at it and learned from it. So I will forever choose to celebrate that one day during summer and give thanks for everything that day has taught me. Now the big question is...how are you going to celebrate?
Do you celebrate your cancerversary or any other dates? Share your experience in the comments below.
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