Dear Current Cancer Fighting Badass,
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. I'm not going to sugar-coat it: you’re in for the biggest fight of your life. You will ultimately change for the better, and be the strongest person ever. Everything probably happened so quickly that you can’t even wrap your head around things. That’s how it usually happens: all of a sudden. Don’t worry, you will get through it. And I'm here to give you some short-cuts and sneak peaks into how you're going to accomplish this.
Brace Yourself For A Smack In The Face By The Fertility Card
You might run out of time to do anything fertility-wise because if you’re in the hospital like I was, things just happen too quickly. If you do get a chance to think about fertility options - speak up! Your doctor wants you to.
But don’t freak out if you don't -- infertility is the price you might have to pay for staying alive
. Also, remember not to listen to the odds. Many, many, many people are still able to get pregnant after chemo, and an inability to conceive does not mean you can't be a parent
. It’s all up to the big man upstairs.
And remember, if you're dead, you can't get pregnant anyways -- and your cancer is definitely trying to kill you.
Free Rides On The Emotional Rollercoaster!! Yay...
You're going to be sad, you're going to be angry. 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. But the crying will eventually stop.
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 explain why a specific person gets cancer. Consider it to be the biggest misfortune, but also the biggest blessing in disguise. I believe that God let this happen to me to show me that I am strong and I can handle it, and I'm going to pay it forward. I believe YOU can do this, too.
Cancer Treatment Is Siiiick. Well, Not Really, But You're Definitely Going To Feel Sick
You're also going to be told how many side effects you could possibly have from the chemo. Neuropathy, lung disease, heart disease, a secondary cancer, infertility,
I could go on and on. You're probably going to get surgery and a cancer 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 your chemo port, too.
Depending on which regimen you receive, you're probably going to be sick after chemo. If this is the case, nothing will 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.
Time And Tide Wait For No One. Not Even Someone Who's Going Through Cancer.
This will be one of the hardest things to accept: Life will go on for the rest of the world. While your friends are at work, you're getting injected with a million different poisons. 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 Neulasta
and can't be around other people. You will have days where your hemoglobin is so low that you have to receive blood. You will feel like your world is remaining stagnant… but you're fighting the biggest fight of your entire life. Don't worry, you will get through it.
And Here's How You'll Get Through It
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.
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
Although your days will be consumed with doctors visits, scans, chemotherapy, and possible radiation, 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 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 develop an unexplainable bond to anyone else who has or has had cancer. 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.
Get Excited For Your Honorary Cancer Warrior Badge
You'll become a completely different person after you've handled your cancer diagnosis and treatment regimen. All of those days and nights where you didn’t think you would survive, you will have survived.
Although I don't wish cancer on anyone, I want to say congratulations to you. 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. For those who have to fight for it, life becomes more precious and meaningful, and you'll never waste it on anything or anyone.
Always remember on those nights where you just don't know if you can ever make it through that hope is stronger than fear. If you can do cancer, you can do anything
. So hang in there. I'm rooting for you.
Your friend who was once in the same shoes as you.
What advice would you want to give someone who's fighting or has survived cancer? Share it in the comments below -- or, better yet, just give with it to someone else in the comments!