My radiation treatments will end on Monday. I’m so scared, because as morbid as this sounds, the treatments provided me with a means of security and routine, something that I really need right now. However, life’s road is for walking forward and so I am therefore shoved ahead to see what the next part of my cancer journey is. The chemo I will have to continue on for a year, but it’s not so bad as it’s in portable pill form.
I consider the “radiation chapter” of my cancer journey to be the surviving part of the road because of the routine and security it provides me. I don’t have to think about what I should do on weekdays because I’d just get up and go to radiation. My entire world revolves around radiation. However, I’m getting butterflies just thinking about what lies ahead after this chapter is finished. This is like, big, man. I get to return to my normal life after this.
But what the hell is normal?
My entire life, routine has been my normalcy. Piano lessons, band, studying, homework, etc. However, that was before I was diagnosed with brain cancer. What’s my life like going to be now? Will it revolve around set MRI scans? (which, by the way, I absolutely hate and loathe MRI scans). I know I’ll never be the same again, and looking back, I think I’m glad that I’ve changed because I think it’s for the better. I have a greater appreciation of life I never thought possible. It’s like I woke up and I realized, wow, this world is so amazing. So, here I present you a list of all the things I’m grateful for!
- My parents
I’ve been lucky enough to have a mom and dad who has put my brother and I first all my life. I’ve lived for 19 years taking it for granted mostly. My mom has never held a steady job because her mind was always on us wondering if we were okay when she wasn’t there. Luckily, she didn’t have to work and my dad encouraged her to be a homemaker so that she can raise us in the most nurturing environment possible. It was my dad who has held up my family in terms of income, and we’re living a humble, comfortable middle-class life. Despite the fact that I’ve been sheltered and overprotected by my parents, I think it’s completely sweet now on how they’ve protected me. For instance, ever since I was diagnosed with my cancer, my dad swore to me that he’ll be there for me forever. I’m not a mother yet, but I think I understand the concept of unconditional love better now. I used to be indifferent to love, but ever since I’ve been diagnosed, I realized how much I crave and feed on it from my friends and family. You can say I’ve been “softened up,” but I don’t mind at all! I like being human – not some studious robot freak.
- My lack of side effects from treatment
I don’t think that you get this claim of cancer treatment much. I’m on radiation and chemotherapy right now, but the only side effect is my hair loss of where they’re shooting my radiation. Thank God they didn’t put me on steroids for swelling, because I would not like the side effect of constipation. I thank God everyday for this because my appetite is great, and I have red color in my cheeks. I also don’t get tired from the treatments either, so I just carry on like any normal person everyday. I definitely have God watching over me, or some angel. I still go on 8 km walks when I can (ever since my seizure from running, I’ve been scared to try again). To be honest, I feel better now than before I had cancer. Again, thank God, because, this to me, is a miracle. My oncologist is glad that he’s seeing me healthy like this. I could’ve had massive headaches, seizures, nausea, fatigue and anything else not on the list, but I flew through this chapter.
- My Aunt Kelly
I don’t know how many people have the privilege of having someone like my Aunt Kelly in their lives. She runs business in South Africa, but the moment she heard that they found my brain tumor, she immediately booked a flight from South Africa to Canada to be here for my surgery. It was she who came into the holding room before my brain surgery. In Chinese, if you click with someone well, as in a special connection, it is said you have yuan with that person. Aunt Kelly and I have a very strong yuan. When we were awaiting the tumor’s pathology results, she was willing to extend her flight ticket to see it with me. When we found out, she had to go back to tend to her business in Africa, but she booked another flight to be with me for two months to be with me for my radiation treatment. She will be back in South Africa in November, so I will not look forward to that.
- My friends
I have the most amazing friends in the world. The moment I told them, they came to my aid! We made plans to see Europe together, and they’ve been coming up to see me to chill with me. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to top the number of times I smile now! I’m so grateful. When you announce your cancer, you really see who your true friends are, and I have the luck of knowing and having such great people in my life. I mean, my supply of cheese and chocolate is currently endless (though I’m not supposed to be consuming these, so I limit to like once a month.)
- My life
I am grateful to be alive, and breathing. I don’t take a day for granted because I know that there might not be another day. I try to acknowledge and pray to God everyday letting him know that how grateful I am. It’s amazing what I’m learning in this journey. I’ve met so many amazing people as a result of cancer, and I can’t tell you how much more to life there is than what the Average Joe presumes. Money doesn’t buy you happiness, and materialistic means of happiness has its limits. I don’t want anything more than what’s in front of me. I have everything, even though I’m a broke student right now. To those who think that cancer is a death sentence, it’s not. I’ve written and emphasized numerous times why cancer is actually a gift of life.
- I’m grateful for me
This whole journey has shown me what kind of person I truly am. I now realize that I can handle a lot more than most people can, and that I am strong. I take pride in my courage of being able to fight this and I’m so proud to be me. This is not meant to be narcissistic, but I think that everyone should take two steps back and look into the mirror and say to themselves, “this is who I am. I am enough, and I am gorgeous just the way God/nature made me. I don’t need to be more or less.” I’ve never been happier than now, and I think I’ve discovered why. I’m at the point of where I’m recognizing and reconciling with all my flaws and insecurities and realizing that yes, these attributes are what makes me me. I am enough. And everything that life is throwing at me now only makes me more unique, and… perfect.