“I am not my cancer”

Project Description:

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was 15, in May of 2008. It’s now three years later and I’ve had one relapse in January of 2009 and am finally recovering from both of my experiences with cancer. Even though it’s been almost a whole year since I’ve been cancer free, cancer somehow still has its grips on me. Every day I live in a world where people see me as fragile. They treat me as if I could break because I HAD cancer. People tip toe around me. I had a bone Marrow transplant with my relapse from Hodgkin’s and that killed my immune system. My Immune system has started to come back slowly but surely. I was Isolated to my house for over a year because I had no immune system at all. This April of 2011 will be a whole year since I have been off of isolation. I still don’t have a full immune system and am considered immune compromised. So every day I have to be careful with what I do and where I go because I can get sick from anything and anyone. Being so vulnerable to the world and germs makes it hard to go to school and keeping a job but I am trying and I find myself persevering every day.

I am still going to the hospital every month for tests and procedures. This makes it sometimes hard to plan trips or days out with friends. When I tell a person my story I try to tell them as if going through cancer was no big deal, but the reality of it is I almost lost my life and I was scared… Even now I am scared. I could relapse again or develop another cancer. Being told you have a likely chance of dying is extremely hard to hear. But what’s even harder is telling the people you love. I was able to then but now I’m finding it harder to tell people my story. I think to myself “What if they treat me differently? How will they react? Maybe I shouldn’t tell them… Will they not want to be around me because they’re not sure of how to act or if they could get me sick?” Thousands of these thoughts go through my head when I think of how people will view me after I tell them.

When I was sick not a lot of people came around to see me because they were either afraid they’d get me sick or didn’t know how to react. And even now I find that this still sometimes is the case why certain friends don’t come around. My life has seemingly been branded by cancer and it’s hard to get people to believe that I’m not weak or fragile or delicate or any other phrase that somehow inquires that my health mind and body are inadequate. I am not any of those things. I am a happy healthy positive strong caring individual who should be seen that way and not seen as breakable. I am not my cancer. Nor will I ever be.