In the end it is humorous to me that a surgery to change my appearance brought my hidden cancer to my attention -- and that this cancer has essentially reversed how I feel about beauty.
I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, stage 2A with bulky mediastonal disease, when I was 22. Most people know that cancer is expensive, but I didn't think that most people understood what that meant for a twenty-something.
I like to think I'm not superficial or petty. But it wasn't until my new doctor, an oncologist, told me I would lose my hair that despair reared its ugly, presumably bald, head.
Little did my husband and I know that a mere four years after reciting our vows, we would be asked to live up to them. That was when we discovered that Alex had advanced testicular cancer, and his surgery and chemotherapy treatment would begin right away.
Mom and I have reacted very differently to the news of my stage IV cancer. I was online within days writing posts about the steps I was taking. As my readers know, I'm very open about this part of my life. My mother, on the other hand, is much more private.
Every day, young adults are diagnosed with cancer. Every day, people tell them it will be okay, or it isn't so bad. These quotes are some things that were said to me by various people in my life. These things didn't really help me.
When you're diagnosed with cancer, there's all this pressure to get out and "live your life," and anxiety about being judged for taking life for granted now that you're staring your mortality in the face. But living life to the fullest doesn't mean the same thing for everyone.
What does it mean to be a survivor? And I'm not talking about outsmarting a bunch of other people on an island in the South Pacific. I'm talking surviving something that you're not supposed to. In my case, it was cancer.
Being a young cancer survivor is a paradox. On the one hand you have a long life ahead of you. On the other hand because you're younger you'll have many years of testing to make sure there are no recurrences.
She was my strength -- literally -- and helped bathe me just as she did 30 years ago. She was with me as I battled the nausea and fatigue from the chemo.