We all have talents, passions, and life experiences. Sometimes if you’re lucky, those things line up just right and really cool things can happen.
It’s no secret that I’m a writer. In university I spent one ill-fated semester in the faculty of science (don’t ask – my GPA took a terrible hit) but soon righted (or writed – see what I did there?) my path and ended up in the School of Journalism.
I majored in print media with the intent of creating a career telling other people’s stories. In 2011 I graduated with a bachelor of arts in journalism and in one way or another, I did just that for the next couple of years.
Then something came up.
At the end of November 2014, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Lymphoma is cancer that starts in the white blood cells found scattered throughout the lymphatic system. Hodgkin’s is a rare subtype with a special kind of cell that differentiates it from other lymphomas.
I was 25 at the time and scared out of my wits.
I underwent five (very long) months of chemotherapy before having a clean scan (remission!) in June 2015. In July I did ten consecutive days of radiation to my neck and chest where the cancer originated, just to be sure it didn’t plan on coming back to that spot again.
Treatment was tough, but it was hard for me to explain to anyone exactly what I was going through. So I created a blog to chronicle my daily life as a cancer patient.
It was a great tool for me to release everything that was going on both inside my head and outside of it, but more than that, I realized it could be used as a means of reaching others who were going through a similar situation. Isolation increases suffering, but when we find people we can truly connect with, we feel some of that burden being shared – and in turn, lifted. For example – knowing you aren’t alone in crying about missing your hair can make you feel less sad about it, if even for a moment.
Tips and tricks to make chemo and radiation easier were something I wanted to share – I had to learn them the hard way, but maybe someone else would read and give them a try before they were up all night calling Ralph on the porcelain telephone.
And let’s not forget life after cancer – suddenly, you’re free of doctor’s appointments and treatments, but where do you go from here? Is all this anxiety a normal reaction? Why don’t my friends get it? Where’s all the other 25 year olds who are going through this?
Recently my blog was selected by IHadCancer.com as one of the top 10 cancer-related blogs of 2016! This is quite possibly one of my proudest accomplishments to date.
I’m not done yet, though!
As a way to give back to the cancer community my husband and I recently signed up to hike to the Mount Everest base camp with Charity Challenge. Charity Challenge offers trips like this for a reduced cost in return for fundraising for a charity of your choice. We’ll be donating our proceeds to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada and have a fundraising goal of $2,500. If you’re interested in donating, you can contact me or do so here.
I once compared completing chemo to climbing Everest. I stand by that comparison, and will be thinking of everyone who donated as we set out on this epic adventure!