To young cancer patients and survivors,
I was 24 when I got a phone call in a hospital bed. Confused and awaiting answers, I didn’t know why I was there or what all these tests they were running would find.
When I answered the phone, the doctor said, “We have the results. It’s Lymphoma.”
That’s how I found out I had cancer.
Without compassion or emotion, the doctor continued, “You won’t be able to have kids, and you will lose your hair.”
Immediately, I started crying hysterically, and quite honestly, I couldn’t believe the doctor didn’t even deliver me the news in person.
Scared, confused, and unsure of what to expect next, I felt utterly alone.
At the moment, I couldn’t even understand how this could happen to me and couldn’t help but think to myself, “What if I die?”
I am sure you do or have felt this way before. And while cancer sucks, I also want you to know I experienced so much growth.
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Before my diagnosis, I was living a very normal life for someone my age – assuming I had all the time in the world. After getting my associate’s degree, I worked as an administrative assistant. While it was the first job in my life that I genuinely liked it; it wasn’t necessarily my passion. But for all intents and purposes, life was going as expected.
For several months, I did have various symptoms, including nose bleeds, terrible migraines, extreme fatigue, bruising in my pelvic area, and severe pain in my leg to the point where I couldn’t walk. The leg pain finally prompted me to see a doctor, but I never thought at 24 years old cancer would be the cause. After my initial diagnosis, I moved to a different hospital that specializes in cancer treatment. It was there I was told I had ALL Leukemia. We started chemotherapy shortly after. My whole life was flipped upside down in a matter of days – financially, emotionally, physically, and mentally.
Everyone kept commenting on my strength, but what choice did I have?
With that said, through my strength, I learned many important lessons.
I went through biopsies and chemo. I lost my hair twice, and I had a bone marrow transplant. Thankfully, the nurses and staff were incredibly helpful in the second hospital.
One nurse told me she had a daughter who had cancer at two years old, and she used her child’s story to comfort me and told me she would pray for me. Another nurse gave me a sun catcher made by her daughter, who had autism. For my stem cell transplant, also known as my stem cell birthday, the staff sang Happy Birthday to me and gave me a little stuffed animal and a card.
These nurses taught me the power of kindness, love, and support. And I realized that when I am ready to start working again, I want to work with cancer patients to comfort them and help them through what I know is a challenging experience.
During my cancer treatment, I decided I would wake up with a positive attitude every day – even during the hard days when I was very sick and throwing up. There’s no point in being negative about it or being mad or upset with anyone. I leaned into prayer and faith and maintained this never-give-up attitude. I learned that positivity could help you take each day as it comes, so you can do whatever you need to do to get better or reach a goal.
Cancer also taught me gratitude. I was never an ungrateful person, but now I appreciate the little moments and milestones in life: birthdays, holidays, and time spent with family and friends.
Currently, I am ten months post stem cell treatment and four months in remission. I started a podcast called Jade’s Journey Through Cancer, sharing my cancer journey, and I have connected with many of you. Through my podcast, many of you have told me how much you relate to my story.
Cancer is a terrible illness to endure, and I am glad it’s behind me. But through cancer, I realized I am stronger than I ever imagined. I found my purpose in life and developed a more positive and appreciative mindset.
Whether you are battling cancer now or are a recent survivor like me, I hope my story helps you find the silver linings in your journey. More importantly, I hope it makes you realize no matter how isolating, or devastating cancer can feel, you are never alone.
We are all in this together.
I am praying for you.