October 27, 2015

Fighting Cancer and Winning the Battle

Note: The following article is from a young friend of mine who survived a very strong form of brain cancer. It's her story and such a worthwhile read.

The Blink of an Eye

“On a long enough time line the survival rate for everyone drops to Zero” a quote by Tyler Durden from the novel Fight Club

       Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how one looks at it, humans do not live forever. It is in our nature to worry about how things will turn out. This often reminds us that death and problems are unavoidable. When the thought that anything can happen at any given moment is presented it tends to motivate people to make something of their lives. It is not unusual for a person to want to make a difference that everybody will remember long after they are gone.

In 2013 I was diagnosed with stage three brain cancer which was a battle I can proudly say I fought and won. When I was declared cancer free I was determined to fit something worth while into the dash between the day I was born and the day I die on my gravestone. The moment I transitioned into remission it changed my life forever because I was determined to graduate college, I was overwhelmed with an abounding appreciation for life, and it strengthened my relationship with GOD.

My life before cancer was a disappointment. Going to school was just a minor issue to me. When the choice between hanging in there just a little longer and finishing up or quitting school and having to work a nine to five, minimum wage job for the rest of my life was given to me, sadly the latter was most satisfying. Fresh out of quitting high school I landed my first minimum wage job at McDonalds. Having a position as a cashier at a fast food restaurant and getting yelled at daily by customers for the cook’s constant mistakes was not enough to motivate me even just a little bit to go back to school and make something of my life. 

My only goal in life was to make enough money to get by. It was not until my transition into remission that my desire to succeed in life had surpassed my apathetic attitude toward my future. During my battle with cancer my friends, family, and myself knew there was a possibility that the cancer was far worse than we were hoping it would be. All that was on my mind was how my loved ones will remember me as the girl who dropped out of high school to work at a fast food joint. When the disappearance of all signs and symptoms of my illness allowed me into remission, I made the decision to better my life.

When trying to figure out how to better my life all I could think about was graduating college. Just picturing myself walking across the stage to get my diploma was enough. My decision to register at the Community College of Aurora was one of the wisest I have ever made. Now that I am a college student I am gaining a lot more than I thought I would. College has shown me what hard work really is and that I can overcome even the most difficult tasks in life.  If I persevere and seek help when I need it, I know I can reach any goal.

Even though college is stressful at times I will always remember that through my struggles with cancer, God proved to me that I can endure anything with Him on my side.

Not only was my motivation to graduate something very valuable to me but also my appreciation for life. Before my diagnoses I took life for granted. My complaints about life were only about how unfair it is, not ever stopping to think about how many other people have it way worse than I could ever imagine. Being in remission I am thankful for almost everything around me. 

Since my life was so close to being cut short, it is a priority of mine to notice and appreciate all the little things. Realizing how short life really is I try my absolute hardest to stay positive, no matter what life throws at me and also not to complain.  I have realized that there is no room in my life to be angry with anybody. Unfortunately, before my diagnoses there were several relationships between friends, family, and myself that were falling apart over issues that were not at all worth it. For instance my sisters and I would get into fights over petty things that they were able to forgive and forget, but I on the other hand, was not willing to let go as easily.   

I am ashamed to say that I was a person who would hold grudges for an unnecessary amount of time. Not knowing how precious life really is before remission I almost left this world holding grudges with the people that mean a lot to me. Not being able to predict the future, every time there is a conflict between anyone and myself it is very important to me that whatever the issue is, it is resolved immediately. I have made it a point to make peace with everyone that comes into my life.   

Although my motivation to succeed and my appreciation for life are both very important, my most favorite realization is how much stronger my relationship with GOD grew. Growing up in a Christian home I always had Jesus in my heart but was not as devoted as I am now. When in church I was only physically present. When my pastor gave sermons and would pray for us, my mind was always somewhere else. My attention span at Sunday morning service was kept to a minimal length. Almost every Sunday my parents would give my sister and I money to go out to lunch after service with our youth group friends. Going out to lunch with our friends after church was the only thing that made me want to go in the first place. Before my bond with God, I never acted as spiritually as I do now. It was like I was not a Christian at all. I never shared the word of God with the people in my life because I really did not care about any of it.  

During my treatments all of my prayers were answered. When everything was said and done my relationship with GOD grew because I realized that without him I would not be here today. When I entered the remission state I made sure that church was a part of my weekly schedule. Being in church every Sunday, listening to the word brings me closer and closer to my Lord and Savior. There was also a point where I volunteered at my church which was something I never did. The church had hundreds of guests at every service so they needed many helping hands. I volunteered as greeter and my duties were to shake hands and welcome people as they entered the building.  

The moment I transitioned into remission it changed my life forever because I was determined to graduate college, I was overwhelmed with an abounding appreciation for life, and it strengthened my relationship with GOD. I am very excited for my college journey and I cannot wait to receive my diploma. I am very thankful for all of the little things life has to offer and ready for whatever challenges I may face. No matter what happens I know that GOD is just a prayer away.   

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