“Do not be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know something is worth it.”
As the end of my journey with the “C” word quickly approaches, I find a sense of peace in this quote. Four and a half months ago, my life was turned upside down and I had no idea how easily this disease could take over not just my body, but my mind as well. I’ve learned that if you can find a way to see beauty in the disaster, then this arduous path becomes nothing more than stepping stones to survival.
In ten days’ time I will complete my final round of chemotherapy, and no words can express how amazing that truly feels. With seven rounds under my belt already, it seems like this last one is going to be a piece of cake. Why? I know I’ll never have to feel the pain of ABVD rushing through my veins again. I’ll never wake up unable to swallow because the pain in my mouth is so intense. I’ll never feel so ravaged by something so essential for life to go on. Today, I’m counting the minutes until that last treatment begins rather than dreading its arrival.
I’ve said before that I’ve been fortunate enough to only experience minimal side effects during this process – never once vomiting, and coming out the other side with nearly all of my hair. Those things I feared the most never came to pass. While I’m grateful for this, the unexpected side effects have still taken a toll on me. I’ve almost completely lost the veins in my left arm from the chemo medication, and I’m experiencing nerve damage in both my arms. These battle scars will serve as a reminder of my fight to live; my fight to push through.
No matter your age or place in life, a cancer diagnosis fundamentally changes you. A part of you withers away and dies – that part that believes you’re invincible and impervious to the tribulations others face on a daily basis. Yet, while one part fades, another part grows bigger and eventually morphs you into the person you were destined to become. The people, places and things I once thought were so important have lost their value, and I now see things through a different set of lenses.
That old saying, “Hard times will reveal true friends” has proven itself to be sadly accurate. Through these past few months, I’ve lost people I once counted as friends. While it was painful, in return I’ve gained some of the most amazing relationships that I could ever have hoped for. It was almost a natural house-cleaning; the universe resetting itself to how it was supposed to be all along.
They say that the moment you get your cancer diagnosis, you are already a survivor. For me, I’ll know that to be true the moment my last IV is pulled from my arm. Michael J. Fox famously said, “Life delivered me a catastrophe, but I found a richness of soul.” I keep those words close to my heart, as I know that I’ve been graciously given a second chance and new outlook.
Life finds a way. I’ve found a way. You can too.
Read more from Maressa at livingwellwithmontel.com.