Original version written on October 1, 2017
Today, October 1, 2017, is my 22nd Cancerversary! This time of year always gets me thinking about my cancer journey—most of which is beyond the treatment itself. There are definitely a lot of things to be thankful for and grateful for—including the remission of the cancer and no evidence of disease, the amazing doctors and nurses I had, and the family and friends who supported me during treatment.
Navigating the world after cancer treatment has been a totally different experience from life during treatment. Partly because I was so young during my treatment, and partly because post-treatment is just a different world. I’ve had doctors and health professionals here and the annual follow-up with my oncology team, and but a lot was missing. Where were my peers? Where was the support for people like me? Where were the programs for adolescents and young adults affected by cancer?
Let me tell you it is quite a culture shock to be launched from cancer treatment into the teenage world! All that weight gain and bloating from Prednisone and other chemo drugs, plus the thin hairline–these were not exactly the physical impression I wanted to make at a time when fitting in and finding your clique is of the utmost importance! It was an interesting time, to say the least. Thankfully, I had a few great friends before cancer, and met some of the kindest people during my treatment years and teenage years—friends who saw me through it all that are still my friends today. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you all–but thank you so very much, from the bottom of my heart!
Always remember, a little kindness goes so much farther than we can ever know. ♥
As a young adult, I’ve had other challenges navigating life beyond cancer. College took a while to get through—but I’m so thankful to have the education I always wanted and to have finally graduated! Health issues have sprung up that I would have never predicted, even with my Survivor Care Plan. Getting to the bottom of them has not been easy, and I’m still seeking answers and healing.
But if there’s one thing that cancer has taught me, it’s to never give up. Also, take breaks when needed and ask for help. Keep moving forward and find the beauty in each day. Have gratitude for even the smallest of things. Keep moving forward and find the beauty of each day–even on the days where the pain was so unbearable I just wanted to sleep and medicate out of it.
The dream in my heart remained. I found a way through it—with faith, with enduring hope, with a love of music and of life and all it had to offer. I remembered how sick I felt during chemo and how weak it made my body then. I realized, I am stronger now. If I could endure the treatment, I can endure this too—whatever “this” might be today or any other day. I will find a way to triumph over it and live the life I could only imagine back then.
So it continues today. There are old and new health issues and challenges, but every day is one day closer to healing them. Every day is an opportunity to give life everything I’ve got. If I waited to feel better to begin living, I would still be waiting. I had to start first—to get busy living. For me, it’s the involvement with the people, organizations, and causes that have helped me to shift focus from my own stuff to how I can be a great friend or lend a hand or be of service in the world. From music to environmental to cancer organizations, and everything in between—I’ve met the most incredible people along with way, who inspire others with their light and their passion. I hope to do the same.
This year, in honor of 22 years, I’m joining Project: Get Busy Living, one of Stupid Cancer’s new projects with support their program, CancerCon, and celebrates their 10 year anniversary. I’m also kicking it up a notch <bam!> to reach Ambassador level—to better support CancerCon, which helps young adults like me to live better lives. Because of Stupid Cancer, I have age-appropriate support and resources. I’ve made friends my own age that understand what it’s like to go though cancer as a younger person, and all the bizarre and inconveniencing things we’ve dealt with along the way.
Looking back on 22 years after cancer treatment, there are so many reasons to celebrate. I am blessed to have this life! And it’s important to me to support a program & organization that has helped me, so many of my friends, and 1000s of young adults to live better lives—right now; today; not 20 years from now. Help me celebrate 22 years by giving back.
To borrow a phrase from Oprah—
*What I know for sure* is my life is so much better now because of Stupid Cancer.
When you support CancerCon, you make a difference to the 100s of young adults who attend each year.
My Fundraising Page: https://give.stupidcancer.org/MichelleD
Thank you so much for your support. ♥