Dear Cancer, I Am Looking to the Future

by Danielle NicosiaPatient, Stage 3 Metastatic Thyroid CancerJune 25, 2021View more posts from Danielle Nicosia

Dear Cancer,

I hate what you have taken from me. You have taken my entire teaching career, as I was one class shy of completing my Associates Degree in teaching American Sign Language. So much of my time has been in and out of various hospitals, having far too many surgeries, and having to receive multiple treatments. You took the little bit of hearing that I had left in my ears, which still impacts me on a daily basis. In fact, my hearing is getting worse, to the point where I may have to consider having another surgery to install a Cochlear Implant on my left side, since I currently have one on my right side. In 2008, you took my legs, to the point that when I walk, at least on the days I can walk, I walk like a zombie out of some horror movie. Most of all, you took away two people who mean the world to me: my Grandfather, who passed away from Bladder Cancer in 2013, and you have taken my Father’s brother, Uncle Richie, from cancer in 2019. I will never ever get over this.

Because you have put me through hell and back, I WISH YOU WOULD GET CANCER AND DIE! Leave all of us alone. I beg you to leave all my amazing Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer friends alone. Go away forever and never come back. I’ll even pack your bags and drive you to the airport, to save you money on a taxi. Aren’t I helpful?

You have taken a part of me that I can never get back. You have caused so much trauma and heartache in my life. Dealing with multiple recurrences, so many side effects from cancer treatments, chronic pain and survivor’s guilt. The friends I did have all left me when I was diagnosed, because they could not handle me being sick. It was like I was contagious. Having so many family and friends die because of you makes me question why I am here. Why was it my Grandfather and not me? He has been gone for eight years and our family still hasn’t recovered.

But let me tell you something, you will never DEFINE ME. I have lived with you for nine years and I will have to live with this for the rest of my life until there is a cure. I refuse to allow you to take anything else from me. I have two nieces and one nephew that I want to see grow up, go on dates, graduate high school and get married. Even little events, like my nephew’s baseball games, are things I want to be able to see when I am able to travel back up to New York.

I may have Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer since 2012 and have dealt with multiple recurrences and a secondary cancer in 2019, but let me put this into words that hopefully, you can understand: YOU WILL NOT WIN! EVER!

I didn’t know how strong I was until after my third recurrence. Because of you, I have been through more than anyone can handle. I truly personify the saying, “I am woman, hear me roar”.

In 2018 after my third recurrence, my life changed completely. My boyfriend of eight years surprised me by getting me a dog, a black Labrador Retriever. It was a love at first sight. She was my first dog ever. He wanted a dog so badly. But he also wanted me to have company while he was working all the time. This day was the best day of my life. She has inspired me to keep going. She knows her “hooman” is sick and gives me so much love and comfort. The emotional support and love are priceless. I am forever grateful for my girl. She has taught me to “Just Keep Swimming”. She gives me hope that no matter what happens, she will always love and support me despite all the surgeries and trauma I have been through.

At the end of the day, despite all the craziness, pain, and suffering, both emotionally and physically, I am looking to the future. I have a great boyfriend who loves and cares about me, along with our fur daughter. I have my family, who despite living up north, still are there for me when needed, whether it is coming down to help or helping me afford to take an Uber to get to a doctor’s appointment or get medication from the pharmacy. I also have my AYA friends. I enjoy being able to converse with those that know the journey I have been on and being able to compare our stories and scars.

Above all, I will make sure to follow the words of my favorite character, Dory: “Just Keep Swimming”.

Danielle Nicosia

To read this letter and the other letters to cancer, click here to read and download the June 2021 Magazine

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One Comment

  • Lenae says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Danielle. This made me cry. I am in awe of you. Sending prayers always.

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