“Currently, I am living as a survivor which I now understand is an immense gift not to be taken for granted. “
Ever since I was given my diagnosis of stage 3 melanoma at age 12, I’ve never felt like a person with cancer. I don’t think it ever actually sunk in that I was living with a deadly disease during my treatment and surgeries. Those 2 years, which isn’t much compared to most cancer survivors, felt like a life I wasn’t living. I always felt as though I was on the outside looking in; a parallel universe in which only my body was experiencing cancer and my mind was just an onlooker. At the end of it all, I was grateful to have been declared in remission but I did not feel any different, if I’m being honest. While the frequent doctor visits and checks still occurred and I was constantly reminded of my survival, I did not think too much of it. Fast forward about two years and cancer entered my life once more in a very different way. One of my close friend’s younger sister was diagnosed with this horrible disease while another close friend’s mom was given the same diagnosis. Naturally, they came to me at times for advice or support knowing my history. During this time, I had a tum in my emotions and attitude. For the previous two years, as I transitioned into high school, I had pushed my survivorship to the back of my mind and never truly talked about it, being almost embarrassed that I had survived a life-threatening disease. Only close friends knew about it and I wasn’t very open about my experience. The main reason for this, I came to realize, was my desire to be treated the same and not be looked at differently. I thought if more people found out, I would get special treatment or be pitied. When the lives of my friends were forever changed by cancer, and by the deaths of their family members, I realized this was an ignorant way to look at my survivorship. They had lost a sister and a mother and I was standing right there having survived that same disease, which to me felt like mockery. I almost felt guilty, but then I realized I had survived to make a positive impact on the world. They taught me, indirectly, to be proud of my survivorship because I received a second chance at life, when many others do not. Currently, I am living as a survivor which I now understand is an immense gift not to be taken for granted. It has taught me to have a new outlook on life, one which I believe not a lot of people my age have. I feel a responsibility to live life to the fullest, and to be intentional about my impact and footprint on this world. I firmly believe that my choice of nursing as a career will help me accomplish my mission of using my time and talents to positively impact those in pain, those suffering, and those in need of medical care with the empathy and compassion that survivorship has given me.
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