“Survivorship is much more than a word that explains my success, it embodies the journey that I have faced.”
The day was August 1st, 2013. Summer was coming to an end and fall was close at hand. However, on this particular day, I paid no mind to the changing season. Hundreds of people strolled the hospital hallway, their voices echoing the long pale corridors like distant hums. Despite the outside chatter, my room encompassed a certain stillness. I had always associated stillness with serenity, but this stillness was, instead, made up of apprehension, hopefulness, and most notably, fear. As I sat on a bed meant for sick patients, I looked around the small confines of the white room to my family. Within each of them I saw panic. I saw scared parents. I saw worried siblings. I saw the fear of losing me in each one of them. After what seemed like a lifetime suspended within a cruel dream, the doctor finally entered the room. Her eyes wore the bad news before her lips ever formed the words. She spoke, but her words blurred through my mind as I watched my dad shed tears that I had never seen before. Life felt surreal. As l began my journey into a life of uncertainty I kept note of the patients walking the oncology halls with me.
For most people, surviving is not thought of as an everyday action but merely an idea within a length of time. For those fighting for their lives, surviving through the day is all that is pondered on. As I took on chemotherapy each day, I was surviving with the thought that survival may not be attainable for me tomorrow. My thankfulness and willfulness to live increased exponentially. I wanted to live; with each waking hour I fought with insurmountable effort to keep my life as did the rest of the children I encountered on my journey. Survivorship means strength. Even through adversity, my mindset remained optimistic and I feel as if this mindset is crucial in maintaining sanity. I would wake up everyday and tell myself that I will overcome whatever is thrown my way. Even when I was faced with anaphylactic shock I was not going to be discouraged. Survivorship embodies all of the aspirations, goals, and desires that helped me survive. Survivorship means hardships. Survivorship is a realization.
I started this essay with an anecdote of my very first encounter with prominent adversity; when I reflect on the moment that I was diagnosed with cancer, I see all of the emotions that make me proud to be a survivor. Those emotions alone define survivorship. As a survivor, you set the precedence for those fighting for their lives; you are the hope that they seek to find. Survivorship is much more than a word that explains my success, it embodies the journey that I have faced, both the good and the bad, that has shaped me into the woman I am.
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