“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” -Bob Marley
I want you to know, above all, that you are loved and you will get through this difficult time. I remember sitting in your chair just two short years ago, scared to death of the unknown and wondering,
“Am I ever going to get through this?”
“What is my life going to be like while I’m going through treatments and how will I remain committed to my faith in God?”
I know you are probably asking yourself these very questions, and I’m here to tell you that you will get through this, and you will be able to walk away as a stronger, more thankful and patient person.
I have a few tips for you on how to stay positive throughout this journey, because being positive will truly affect your recovery and your overall wellbeing. That being said, you WILL have a few rough days. Your hair may fall out. When it does, you will cry, and quite honestly, you should! Don’t be afraid to let your emotions show. Don’t be afraid to lean on your loved ones, your family and your friends, to say, “I’m struggling right now, and I need you to hug me and just be here to listen to me.” You may have a week where you are supposed to get treatment and you find out that day, that your platelets are low and you are ineligible for treatment that week. You will cry, and you should! It’s frustrating to be set back a week, because it’s one week further away from being done. But you will get done. The day I finished my last treatment was an emotional day. I never thought that I would get to this point, and when I did, I felt the whole weight of the world lifted from my shoulders and I gained the knowledge that life was now just beginning for me. I was reborn. I fought cancer and I came out a survivor. Just like you will.
I won’t say this is going to be an easy process, because there are definitely up’s and down’s, high’s and low’s, and times where you question your faith and you just want to give up. But I can tell you with great certainty that your attitude and your positive outlook will keep you from the darkest suffering.
Find a hobby that you enjoy, keep working when you feel up to it, and find positive distractions. Talk to friends and family and keep the conversations light and happy. Watch funny movies, eat ice cream, bake cookies at 2 a.m., travel…whatever it takes to let you know that life is beautiful and you are going to have a long, beautiful life. This is just a temporary setback. Don’t ever let the sadness and frustration about going through the toughest battle of your life dull your sparkle and rob you of your happiness.
I was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s B-Cell Lymphoma on May 16, 2014. I’m was 27 years old, married, no children. I started treatment on June 8th and I completed my treatments on October 1st. I lost huge clumps of my hair 14 days after my very first treatment and my husband shaved my head. I became an expert at wearing scarves and found that I was more beautiful than ever before, because I wore my strength for the whole world to see. Don’t be afraid of losing your hair, getting sick, being tired…everyone has different side effects.
Yes, I lost my hair, but I never got sick. I did lose my appetite, and lost a few pounds, but some people find they are hungry all the time and gain a few pounds. Listen to your body and give it the nourishment that it needs. Eat healthy! I can’t stress this enough. Eat lots of dark green vegetables, lean protein and fruit. You will feel a million times better. Drink LOTS of water. A gallon a day! Get those chemo toxins out of your body. If you have a picc line or a port (I had a picc line), take it easy with lifting heavy objects. But do yoga or stretching when you feel like you can. If you have a dog, go for a nice walk. Breathe fresh air and let the sunshine on your skin for a few minutes every day. It will make you feel so much better.
I never wanted this letter to be anonymous because I want you to reach out if you feel like you need a friend or just to talk to someone who has gone through what you are about to start and can be a shoulder to cry on or just someone to talk. Or more importantly, to listen with the knowledge of being in your shoes. If you need help learning to tie a scarf, give me a call or email me. Text me at 3 a.m. if you can’t sleep and you are nervous or sad. You are not alone.
“Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, help you, uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10