“Survivorship is a privilege, and I am grateful every single day for how lucky I am. I am proud to be a cancer survivor. “
Cancer is by far the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my young life. Yet, cancer is by far the best thing that has ever happened to me. Without my diagnosis, I would not be who I am today, and I would not be where I am today. All of the pain, suffering, sickness, and fear does not compare to the friendships, love, memories, and opportunities I have gained through my journey with cancer. Being a survivor of childhood cancer means that I have been through a battle like no other, and have come out much stronger than I was before. Survivorship is a blessing, yet also serves as a reminder of the hardships that I once faced.
Upon diagnosis with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at the age of thirteen, my physical and emotional health deteriorated extraordinarily fast. Depression overpowered my young soul to the point that I did not care about my well-being, my health, or my future. I began to resent myself and those around me for something that was out of anybody’s control. I shut out the help from my friends and family and allowed grief to swallow my health. I became indifferent to the possibility of survival, and I lost all hope for the life I once thought I was destined to have. Then, I met a young boy named Lucas. This is the moment that my entire life changed for the better. I met Lucas while staying at the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis during a long phase of my treatment. He was going through his second battle with cancer at this point, yet he was the happiest person I have ever met. His positive outlook on life motivated me to become happy again. I sought out help when I needed it and I started to welcome the support of those who love me. I began to love the moments shared at the hospital, and became grateful I had the opportunity to be where I am today. Most importantly, I realized that I am not alone. I grew close with Lucas ‘s family and many others whose lives were changed with the diagnosis of cancer, and I finally found the light through all of the darkness.
Throughout my years of treatment, I lost many friends to their battle with cancer. This is by far the greatest pain to come out of survivorship, and the only thing that I wish I could change about the past. Out of all of the deaths that have touched my heart, the hardest and most heartbreaking one is the recent passing of my dear friend Lucas. I owe my life to Lucas. Simply put, Lucas is, and always will be, my hero. Lucas passed in October of 2017, to his fourth battle with cancer. Lucas ‘s indestructible happiness is what gave the the motivation to continue on with my life, and the memories made with him are some of the greatest moments in my life.
Survivorship provided me the opportunity to be blessed with the influence of this boy, and I could never imagine my life without the happiness he brought me. Cancer changed me for the better, and survivorship has allowed me to see this change in my life.
Looking back, I now realize that I am grateful for my diagnosis of cancer. I am grateful that I have beat it, I am grateful for the opportunities I have acquired, I am grateful for the friends, but most importantly, I am grateful for my happiness. Cancer changed my entire outlook on life and presented me with some of the greatest people I have ever known. Survivorship is a blessing, yet at the same time a grief. I will always be a cancer survivor, yet I will always carry the knowledge that many of my friends never attained this label. Survivorship is a constant reminder of the pain and suffering I have endured, yet a way to appreciate how far I have come. I have never once regretted my cancer diagnosis or wished it never affected me, because cancer has opened my eyes to the world around me. Survivorship is a privilege, and I am grateful every single day for how lucky I am. I am proud to be a cancer survivor.
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