Dear Cancer, I am My Own Story

by Mia TardiveSurvivor, Stage 3 Breast CancerJune 11, 2021View more posts from Mia Tardive

Dear Cancer,

The obvious and expected thing for me to say here, is that I hate you. Without a doubt, the complete chaos, self-doubt, fear, pain and grief that you have brought into my life has shaken the very foundation of my existence that I had meticulously built. Your presence in my life has uprooted almost every aspect of what I knew to be constant like nothing ever has before. It’s been three and a half years since I heard the words “You have cancer,” and I’m still desperately trying to escape from your grip that you have so tightly clenched around me. 

It’s so tight that sometimes I can’t move. Hell, I can barely even breathe. You quite often rob me of my sleep at night and you have stolen from me the mere idea of a promise that was tomorrow. As honest and real as all of this is, what I want to tell you, however, is that with all of the challenges you keep throwing at me, I am and always will be stronger than you.

My resilience doesn’t come from having cancer, it comes because I choose every single day when I get up in the morning to be resilient. My strength doesn’t just exist because of all that I’ve endured because of you; it’s there because I choose to never give up, and I will never let you call all of the shots. My newfound zest for life isn’t because of you, it’s because I make the choice each and every single day to live my life with insurmountable gratitude and ambition. It’s not you that has made me an empathetic person. When I look at others, I make the choice to really see them and allow my energy to connect with them. As hard as it is not to focus on everything that I once was, instead I choose to see what it is that I can and hope to become.

You see, I am finally giving myself the permission to be me in the most authentic way possible. Sure, you might have forced my hand at discovering these things about myself all at once rather than bit by bit as I age, but I’m sick and tired of you taking the credit for how my life has changed. How I’ve changed. You constantly tear me apart and I am the one constantly putting the pieces back together. You figuratively and quite literally left me broken, but I am choosing, as hard as it sometimes is, to see myself as whole. The joke is on you because true strength lies not in tearing down, but in building back up.

My scars tell the story of a woman who is refusing to hand her life over to someone unworthy of her. The gifts that I’m seeing and experiencing because of your wrath, are because I am doing the workday in and day out to discover light in the darkest of places. You are not my story. My choices, my strength, my resilience, my determination…. I am my own story.

Stop taking credit for making me who I am today. F*ck You.

Yours Truly,

A woman defined by her willingness to rise…not by cancer.

Mia Rose

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

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