To My Younger Self,
Words may not express all my feelings to you as you will be faced with so many challenges later on. How can you prepare a child for all the issues that adults face? Whilst everyone’s childhood supposed to be filled with toys, joy, wonderful family memories, mine was a little different. Some may say that I was a bit odd to them but I more or less kept to myself.
Even at primary school levels, there is much pressure to outperform your fellow classmates. Sometimes I wonder what the focus really is in schools these days. Is it really to be at the top or should we mold our children to be good, supportive citizens? I was not “bright” in school nor did I listen to my teachers, yes, I confessed. But it did not change the person I became in the future, I learned to be a better person, away from the competitive working environment and I chose to adopt good morals and values in life.
So, if I had a time machine and I can look at my younger self crying as usual, I would say that it’s okay to cry now because we made it in the future. Throughout all our struggles, we believed in ourselves and we are able to write about it now. Also, if I were to tell my younger self of all the obstacles that we faced, she may not believe it herself.
The transition from childhood to teenager was such an ordeal, dealing with peer pressure, school performance and depression. I was elated to finish school. I finally felt as though my troubles were over. Then my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. I still remember the day my mother told me that she had cancer. My heart stopped for a while as life as I knew it was about to change in its entirety. It was just one of those moments that you cannot forget.
At age 16, whilst all my friends were partying, I was at home trying to comprehend how am I supposed to deal with this news. I knew she may not make it but how much time did she have? So, I stopped attending my accounting classes for a while, hence you now understand why everyone thought that I was the odd one out. No one really understood all my emotional trauma, having to battle these issues at a young age.
I eventually began to secretly avoid people, as I did not want to tell everyone what was going on with me. I never had anything positive to report, no good job, no boyfriend/husband, no children, only family problems. “What a life!” Sometimes I used to wish that I was never here. Then sometimes I would pray for my entire life to be just a bad dream and that one magical day I would wake up and laugh about it, but that day never came.
At age 18, my mother passed away. I wish I could tell my younger self that all her dreams would not come true but then she wouldn’t want to grow up. She wouldn’t want to face life as we adults know it. I would only scare and traumatize her even further. What I would do though, is tell her that although she may think that she is alone, she will never walk this journey of life alone again. For every disappointment, there was courage, for every mistake, there was a lesson and for every teardrop, there was love (God’s love).
So now we are at the present. I am age 35 and still sometimes I feel like a failure. I myself have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Yes, my wonderful friends, it is not over for me yet. I ask myself why am I going through all these challenges? Why must my faith constantly be tested all the time? Will I ever get a real break to enjoy anything in my life? So many unanswered questions with so little time. Should I even mention this to my younger self? She may say enough is enough but she would miss out on all the wonderful friends that I have made throughout my cancer journey.
Oh yes, there is light at the end of my very dark tunnel. It is time to tell my younger self that she will be just fine as God has blessed her with good friends and people who are willing to see her move forward in life despite her many challenges. She just needs to believe in herself that she has the strength to persevere and the courage to grow up because trust me, it wasn’t easy. I would tell her that she actually became a beacon of hope for others, an inspiration to write about her journey and struggles and an all-round great person in my opinion. Do you all think that she would believe me? Would 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/.