I’m a junior-ish chemistry major at Waynesburg University. The reason I say “junior-ish” is because on Mar 12, 2013, I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a blood cancer. Because of this, I had to withdraw for two semesters of school during spring break of my junior year. I went through 23 weeks of chemotherapy, and after a few speed bumps along the way, I was declared in remission on Aug 15, 2013. Of course, that is the short version.
As a cancer survivor, I've learned that life is a very fragile gift, one that we can't get back once it's lost, and that is what makes it all the more precious. I've learned that death is something we all must go through, and the only thing we can do about it is to live our lives to the fullest before our time on this planet is done. I've learned that strength and perseverance are not about how much you can lift or how far you can run, but it is a measure of your endurance, the ability to stare down a daunting task and overcome it. We are not invincible, but far from it, and it shouldn’t take a life-changing event to make us realize that we are not immune to the downside of life. But we can choose to take a horrible situation and turn it around into an opportunity for growth and change for the better, to change into the people we are meant to become.
I remember the day the doctors found the mass in my chest, and as I was being transported via ambulance, my head reeling from the realization that I didn’t just have a simple cold, a single verse of scripture threw itself to the forefront of my mind: Matthew 6:34 “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself; each day has enough trouble of its own.”
You can ask any cancer survivor, and their story will probably be very similar to mine. The lessons learned about the importance of life, family, friends, and those you love. They will tell you stories of strength, not of body, but strength of heart. You will learn how they decided from very early on that they were not going to be a victim, but a survivor. Being a cancer survivor isn’t just an achievement, but a mindset. This attitude becomes a part of who you are. We celebrate the many survivors of this horrible disease, we remember those who we have lost, and we strive for the day when cancer is no more. I beat cancer. I am a survivor.