“Survivorship means I am a warrior; I am courageous; I am strong; I am a lionheart.”
Survivorship means everything to me. Survivorship means I held my chin high when I felt like giving up. Survivorship means I dug deep and fought through the difficult days with the hope of discovering a better day around the comer. Survivorship means I endured every poke and every prod with grace and reminded myself what the pain was for in the first place. Survivorship means I share my story over and over again, even for those who will never truly understand it, simply because it gives people hope and inspiration. Survivorship means I endured the mental and emotional difficulties that came with losing my hair as a teenage girl and learned to be proud of what I saw when I looked in the mirror. Survivorship means I grieved the death of my childhood and the loss of every high school experience I missed while undergoing treatment and recovering from complications. Survivorship means I am a warrior; I am courageous; I am strong; I am a lionheart.
My sister was the first one to call me “Lionheart;” the nickname gave power to my fight and endowed me with the strength and courage of a lion. Ever since then, I’ve taken my journey, my battle, my survivorship, and related it back to being a lionheart. When I spent weeks in isolation and months stuck in the hospital, I grasped for lionheart and I was able to keep going. When I received the news that my CAR-T cell treatment wouldn’t hold and I needed to have a bone marrow transplant to prevent almost certain relapse, I remembered lionheart, took a deep breath, and continued moving forward. When I spent a couple weeks in the ICU after a nearly life-ending brain infection, I embodied lionheart to get me through. Survivorship means lionheart; it always will.
Survivorship also means I have infinite possibilities to look forward to. It means I have a high school graduation; it means I can get married someday and build a family of my own. It means I can go see the wonders the world has to offer and I can travel to all of the places I’ve ever dreamed of seeing. Survivorship means I get to read more books, spend more time with family, and pet more dogs. Survivorship means I get to try new things and experience new adventures. Survivorship means possibility. Excitement. Hope. Life.
Overall, survivorship is a gift. Prior to my diagnosis, I never truly understood how lucky I was to be alive and have all of the experiences I took for granted every day. My battle opened up my eyes, and today I have an unending appreciation for life and for the gift of waking up every day with the opportunity to go out into the world and experience life. Survivorship granted me the freedom to be myself and enjoy the little things in life. Because of my survivorship, I live with full appreciation of the world and experiences around me each and every day. I am proud to be a survivor, and I will hold my survivorship close as I pursue a future full of hope, laughter, and happiness.
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