“Survivorship is grasping onto your life with clenched hands, not allowing one more second to be consumed by fear”
Growing up, I was terrified of the word: Cancer. I believed that if I said it to myself or out loud, it would somehow wound me, bringing up piercing, heart-breaking memories of both grandmothers who had succumbed to it. Never did I think as I romped around on the playground in elementary school – or even two years ago – that my name would be directly associated with that horrible word.
Now, at age 18, that word has been directly associated with me for almost two years now.
However , I am lucky and proud to be able to call myself a cancer survivor.
Survivorship means forgiveness. Forgiveness for the world that caused you so much pain over a heart-wrenchingly long period of time. Forgiveness for the friends who turned their backs when you needed them most, not wanting to pause their lives to check if you were okay. Forgiveness for your body; the temple that has protected your soul for your entire life , yet allowed the cells to multiply and form the tumor that seemed to want to end it. Survivorship means acceptance. Acceptance of the new person cancer has transformed you into: strong, mature, compassionate . It means letting go of the childhood that was stolen from you the minute your doctor found a lump, forcing you, blindfolded, through the threshold of adulthood. Survivorship means appreciation. Appreciation for the life that you could have lost , never having gone on a first date or holding a college diploma in your hand. Appreciation for those that were there when you needed them, squeezing your hand as you lay in your hospital bed. Survivorship means understanding. Understanding those who could not handle what you were going through, allowing you to forgive them. Understanding how helpless your mom and sister felt having one of their “Three Musketeers” in the operating room, having her throat cut open. Understanding just how sweet life was when cancer was just a word you were afraid of speaking. Survivorship is grasping onto your life with clenched hands, not allowing one more second to be consumed by fear.
However, the most important part of survivorship is making sure life never questions your enthusiasm to live-to take advantage of the incredible gifts that the world has to offer, the ones that you almost never got to unwrap. Becoming a cancer survivor is a metamorphosis, ending in the most brilliant butterfly ever seen, who will never be afraid of a word again.
If you would like to help Olivia and other children battling cancer, donate today!