People often expect that once a cancer survivor’s ordeal is complete, a person should return to their normal daily routine and give thanks for making it through. But in my opinion, survivorship is actually the hardest part of my cancer journey. How do I survive after experiencing a near death situation? In 2018, I was diagnosed with stage 1 triple negative breast cancer. Having undergone surgery, chemo and radiation, I honestly thought that I was going to die. How can my body survive all this treatment?
As I reflect on all what I have been through, it shocked me totally that I am still here. People often say that you should be the one to empower others but why me? My family history was a heart breaking one. My grandmother and mother died from ovarian cancer whilst my cousin being 27 years of age, passed away in 2018 with stage 2 triple negative breast cancer. For a while I did suffer from survivor’s guilt but I was so confused, filled with mixed emotions, not knowing what next to do, what next to expect, stress!
I secretly waited to hear more bad news as that was the new norm for me, as I had liver problems as well as high cholesterol. But in 2020, in a strange twist of faith, as I did a pet scan, the results were all positive. I remember for the first time in years, I walked out of that hospital, being declared a “healthy person.” I cried for days upon days. I waited to see if it was all a dream, more questions arose, was this nightmare all in my head? Did I really survive triple negative breast cancer? How long am I really here for?
So many unanswered questions as I was left to figure it all out. I eventually took a long break from religion, family and friends as I had to regroup my thoughts, come back to reality. This was even more difficult as you are not even sure what is real anymore. I eventually underwent virtual counselling which helped tremendously. I was able to understand that I am now living in the present and I learned to live day by day now.
I still struggle to pull my thoughts together but I know that I am not alone. This journey is by far my toughest challenge, so how do I cope with it all?
For a while, I decided to just do nothing and hope that I would figure out my new life’s mission but that did not happen. Suddenly I was faced with a new life changing question, Vikki if you were given a second chance at life, what would you do with it? Hmm, then it all struck me, I simply would not want to say that I did nothing.
I did not have a straight answer for that question, as I guess I am still trying to figure it all out. I did not want to return to my old routine life as with each obstacle you face, there is a lesson to be learned. So, my friends, what would your answer be to this question? Everyone’s life journey is different. I had to revisit my painful past and decide what was my biggest regret, what did I miss out on, what didn’t I accomplish? Some people may say that it is a bucket list but it goes beyond that. When you make a difference in someone else’s life, it truly impacts your own.
But how do you deal with all your issues whilst trying to be a positive role model? The answer is, you go brave and strong. It took me years to open up, to trust people again. I began to realize that you truly start living when you are indeed out of your comfort zone. Instead of asking why me, I began to ask why not me?
I embraced all my new challenges as I now have wonderful friends to share my second life with. I slowly phased back into life, as there was new hope on the horizon. My new friends, new religion, new life’s purpose and yes, I got a new pet as well. I thank everyone who was part of my journey in any small way possible, it definitely helped me through everything in my life.