I HAD Cancer Not I HAVE Cancer
In March 2008, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was a young, healthy woman in my early-thirties who thought that cancer could never happen to me. When I was initially diagnosed, saying “I Have Cancer” made me feel sick. Those words were like a dark cloud over my life. I never wanted to give cancer that kind of power over me, even as I stared down a Stage II diagnosis.
From day one of my cancer journey, I chose to believe that cancer was in my past NOT my future. I would tell people that “I Had Cancer” even while going through active treatment. Whenever someone referred to me as “sick,” I corrected them. With my “had” goggles on, I didn’t even view myself as looking any different from my normal self. I tried my best to live my “normal” life. Instead of focusing on the present, I focused on the future “light at the end of the tunnel.” Using the word “had” gave me that power.
Before I knew it, a few months later, I reached the end of my active treatment cycle and entered the world of cancer survivorship. Thinking my cancer journey was over, I celebrated. I had no idea about the side effects I would experience due to my cancer treatments and how different my “New Normal” would be.
I did painstaking research, while in treatment and in survivorship, ways to give my body the best chance at healing. The knowledge I gained through that research along with everything I learned from my cancer connections was too important to keep to myself. My cancer journey wasn’t easy, but I was blessed to have cancer in New York. I had access to state-of-the-art treatment facilities and I also had access to good insurance and extra funds to seek complementary therapies while in treatment. Most people thrown into the world of cancer aren’t given these advantages. I searched for a place where I could share my information and where I could learn from others.
I was in need of a cancer support community. I lost my thirties to cancer, the years when so many start families and figure out where they want to go in life. Cancer took those years away from me as I had to spend so much time just trying to stay ALIVE and not letting FEAR consume my thoughts. Only a cancer community would be able to relate to this struggle & give me the support and connections I craved.
In 2010, this type of online cancer community didn’t exist. So I pitched the idea of creating a community where information and stories could be shared with my business partner at Squeaky. I thought this project would be a shot in the dark, but something was telling me that it just had to be created.
We needed a name for our community, something that could be aspirational and that would encompass as much of the community as possible whether the person was in active treatment, just coming out of it, or managing long term treatment. I remembered the power of being able to say “I HAD cancer” from the very start of my journey, and I wanted to give that power to others. Therefore, we named our online cancer community “I Had Cancer.”
Our secondary motto is “Shared Experiences, Shared Strength.” Even though my angel (my cancer buddy now in heaven) was still in treatment when we met, she had that mentality of sharing her cancer experiences with those who needed it. When you share your experience with others, you share your strength with them, and you SAVE LIVES or at the very least help make their journey a little less frightening. This site is in honor of all those who have shared their strength of knowledge and whose experiences still help others, long after they’ve left us physically.
A candle loses nothing by lighting another. - James Keller
I Had Cancer is a community for everyone. We welcome all whether you are just diagnosed, in treatment, recurrent, metastatic, or a cancer survivor. We welcome caregivers and supporters of those who have cancer. We welcome those who have recently experienced a loss due to cancer. There is a community here for you and a place for you to share your story, experiences, and strength with others.
There will one day be no need for IHadCancer.com. Medicine will progress so far that cancer will be a thing of the past, just like so many other diseases that we have left behind in history. Nevertheless, thousands of people are still being diagnosed every day with cancers both common and rare. We hope that IHadCancer will be here to support the cancer community until the day comes when no one fears this disease. Until then, I, err We, HAD cancer.
Watch the Origins of IHadCancer.com, the first episode of The New Normal Season 3 here:
Mailet Lopez is a breast cancer survivor and the founder of IHadCancer.com! Read her full story and learn more about the treatments she underwent by connecting with her.