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.
This would be a whole new kind of reality show. The consequences are real. If you win, you are sent to a barren desert planet to never return. If you lose, nothing happens and you go back to living your -- wait... did I mess that up?
We arrived on Friday afternoon, still in disbelief that we would be spending Shabbat in Shanghai, where my grandfather made his home after his family died in the Holocaust. I can only hope that our trip served as a tiny spiritual fixing to a wound that can never fully heal.
I encourage you all to stop, really stop and take stock. Make sure you are living with passion and passionately living. Surround yourself with people that raise you up, that fill your life, heart and soul with passion.
Survivor and I have been together for 12 years, or half of my life. Twelve years of blood, sweat, tears, emotional breakdowns, immunity idols, blindsides, monsoons, torch-snuffing, and vaguely symbolic close-ups of exotic animals.
Obviously there's nothing funny about cancer or its various treatments. But I felt that my options were either laugh at most of it or just crawl under my covers into the fetal position and stay there. Thankfully humor won out most of the time.
When I was diagnosed with cancer I was 26 years old. I wasn't the youngest person in the world to deal with such an ordeal, but I wasn't the oldest. And as many young cancer fighters would say, younger than they ever thought they would be to be diagnosed with a serious health problem.
I take my role as a Colondar model very seriously. When a patient first gets diagnosed with colon cancer, or any cancer, and sees that there a dozen people this year, and dozens more previously, who have not only survived, but thrived, it makes them feel that they can be one as well.
With a July 20th birthday, cancer is my zodiac sign. Growing up I never thought much of people reading horoscopes out of newspapers and magazines asking me what my sign was. I said, "I'm a cancer." At 33 years young, I became a cancer who got diagnosed with, uh, cancer -- stage four.
I initially started blogging about my cancer journey as way to avoid talking about it to others. I soon realized that the process was therapeutic for me. Now, I'm still learning to love and accept myself. But I'm working at it, every single day, for myself as well as my daughter.
When I was diagnosed with cancer in the middle of college, I threw myself into the study of being a "good" cancer patient. But it didn't take long for me to realize that cancer doesn't play favorites with the teacher's pets.
"Survivor" by definition is a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died. So clearly I am a survivor, considering that after receiving chemotherapy and radiation I am still here. But why do I feel guilty?
One of the terms I have hated most when I finished cancer treatment was "new normal." I didn't want to be different. But recently, I have started to accept the fact that I am not the same person I was before I had gone through my battle with cancer.
My cancer can't get enough of me. It keeps coming back. And so I've decided to accept my illness in order to move on with my life. The problem is, once you make the decision to become 'frenemies' with your illness, you accept being defined by it, and cancer has a nasty reputation.
As a cancer survivor, I have read numerous books and studies that purport a relationship between eating healthy, exercising regularly, reducing stress, getting sufficient sleep and lowering your risk of developing cancer or cancer recurrence.
This year, the organization I work for, FAIR Girls, is having a Valentine's Day party in celebration of girls avoiding and escaping trafficking. On this day of love, our girls will celebrate the fact that we have found love within ourselves and for each other.
I always felt, from day one of being diagnosed with cancer, that asking "Why me?" was a dangerous road to go down. Although it is an obvious question, it is a question, for many young adults like me, with no answer.