Have you ever had this feeling before? Have you ever felt that life keeps on challenging you? As if it gains all the power in the world to crush you! Have you ever felt that life hates your existence? Have you ever felt that you don’t have any power left in you to fight back?
Your body and soul can’t stand more pain. You keep screaming at the sky and your voice is not heard. You keep asking if there’s an end to your pain, and no one is responding.
You are trying to keep holding on to your faith, but you feel as if God abandoned you.
Then, all you can feel is the scent of defeat, filling the air around you.
These were my feelings when I learned that I had my third recurrence of a rare type of sarcoma.
Two years earlier, I was that girl who loved her life and had a perfect plan for it. I was in my 20’s, so active, just got promoted at work and on the same day I was getting ready for my dream school orientation day. Nothing was more perfect than this at that moment. “You deserve it; you’ve worked so hard and things are going now as you have planned.“ I said to myself.
While I was celebrating, feeling so proud of myself, thinking about the future, everything went dark, and I fell on the floor at work; I fainted. I had to spend the whole night in the hospital, wondering why they were keeping me that long, why they keep transferring me between rooms. I kept telling the doctors that I have a very important interview in the morning, and they have to discharge me.
It took me so long to comprehend my situation, to understand that cancer is not that far from me, and to realize that I can’t control everything in my life.
After cancer halted my dreams and being given a time frame for my life, I had to rearrange my priorities, to ask authentic questions about the meaning of life and the real purpose of it. I discovered how little details would affect my life; small things in my normal day that are usually unnoticeable and how it forms a little piece in the big puzzle that I finally got to understand at the end of my journey.
One of these little things was when I decided to receive chemotherapy. My chances wasn’t that good anyway and I was almost thinking of giving up, I was in America alone with my husband and my whole family was far in Egypt, yet I found my sister flew overseas to be with me to fight this battle together. I was hospitalized eight days for each session and needed someone to take care of me as my husband couldn’t take all these days off. She came all the way from Egypt to let me know I am not alone.
Another little thing was a voice note from my friend’s daughter. I was at the hospital receiving my chemo surrounded by pain and depression. I was too weary and I asked God to give me strength to keep going. I received a message from a friend who recorded her three year old daughter’s prayer. She was praying for me with all her heart asking God for healing with a voice filled with faith and trust in God as if she was talking to her friend. This message drew a huge smile on my face, this little girl’s faith made me want to keep fighting and keep going.
The most important puzzle piece in my story was how I turned from an incurable case to a cancer free survivor. As my doctors expected, the chemotherapy that I received didn’t work and my tumor actually got bigger, but if I decided to give up before treatment I wouldn’t have the chance to know about this new immunotherapy drug. Which almost was made especially for me. Yes, the drug was approved in 2016, a few months before my diagnosis. My doctor decided to try it on me as a part of a larger study on the drug because traditional treatment failed. The new drug worked, my tumor shrunk for the first time.
Amazing! Right? actually there’s is more.
After my remission, I continued on this drug for a full year with no recurrence and my doctor decided it’s safe now to stop the treatment. But, at the same month I finished my treatment the manufacturing company decided to withdraw the medicine because the study results wasn’t that good. I don’t have the full study results but I think no one benefited massively from this drug like I did.
It took me three years in this journey with pain, hope, despair and faith to know who I am and what is my value really is. To learn how everything is working for my own good.
Every time I was about to give up after receiving bad news, I managed not to surrender to this feeling. I was searching for something or someone to inspire me to help me fight every day. Every little thing that I encountered during my journey added a little piece to the big puzzle.
If I didn’t move six years ago from Egypt to America I would not receive the best care possible for this type of sarcoma. If I didn’t move from Ohio to Florida before I got sick I wouldn’t have the chance to be treated at Moffitt which was one of the best cancer hospitals in the country and participated in this new medication study. If my sister didn’t travel all the way to be beside me I wouldn’t probably continue my treatment. If I got sick one year earlier or one year later I wouldn’t have the chance to try this new immunotherapy drug.
Am I that important to have all these things working together to save my life? Yes, I am. Do I think my life would be saved if I give up in the middle of this long painful journey after having this bad results even with chemo? No, I do not.
And you are much more important and your life is much more valuable than you think. You are that perfect cut of diamond; you are so unique. You are that strong person who could bear this pain and have the power to not just fight, but also defeat it. Believe in yourself don’t give up even if all the facts are against you. I believe that in the middle of this darkness, God will open a new way especially for you.
All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer. If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you! Please submit your idea at https://elephantsandtea.cdn-pi.com/contact/submissions/.